Right to 'refuse to vote' importance for Pushta voters

Proposed Pushta polling plans, reported on 03.05.04,
are worrying and call for EC and media help to inform
Pushta voters, especially the majority evicted without
resettlement, including about their right to refuse to
vote.
This is the translated text of a statement with which
some of us will be seeking EC intervention.
Please do with it whatever you consider appropriate
under the circumstances.

---
PROTECTION OF VOTING RIGHTS, VOTES AND VOTERS IN
YAMUNA PUSHTA -- REQUESTS / SUGGESTIONS IN THE CONTEXT
OF RECENT REPORTS OF POSSIBILITY OF ELECTORAL VIOLENCE
AND OF PREVIOUS REPRESENTATIONS BY CITIZENS

About 20000 families have lately been evicted from
Yamuna Pushta. Less than 5000 of these were resettled.
There is no official information about the rest,
possibly in various constituencies in Delhi.

No action was taken on responses to a notice for
removal of names from the rolls, pasted amidst debris
after the first demolition on 13.02.04. Voting rights
of only those able to pay 7000/- for plots were being
protected during demolitions carried out on 17 and
19.03.04 with EC clearance. Then EC washed its hands
off Pushta clearance by announcing that polling would
also take place in Pushta. Thereafter, no special
steps were taken to register resettled voters
elsewhere, nor were timely representations about
problems likely to be faced by voters evicted without
resettlement considered. In the hasty demolition,
inclusive of fire on 12.04.04, many voter IDs, etc,
were lost and, despite complaints about these, it is
not clear how will voters vote and misuse of votes be
prevented in absence of these. Amidst all this, it was
even claimed that these citizens are bonded vote banks
not conducive to free and fair polls.

Now, a week before polling, EC has stated that not one
of the evicted voters has registered in another
constituency and 22 booths will be established in
Pushta itself. MCD is to ensure voting in queues, even
as illegalities inclusive of a 30 lakh scam by
overcharging for plots in its queue based resettlement
arrangements have yet to be explained. Police expects
violence and will accordingly be deployed, even as
protection to illegalities against citizens rather
than to citizens against illegalities in its war-like
eviction deployment has yet to be explained. Congress
has requested transport for voters, even as its
failure to ensure despite court orders transport for
examinations has yet to be explained. EC is of the
view that the three fourths evicted without
resettlement are in the New Delhi constituency, a view
from which the benefit of the eviction to the
constituency needs now to be explained.

Meanwhile there is hectic political activity amidst
the resettled voters, in which two court cases have
also been filed and been dismissed on 05.05.05. From
the experience of the drive thus far it does appear
that in the name of polling by a few of a fourth of
Pushta voters something else is about to happen. The
possibility of violence is worrying in this context.

For safety of voter rights, votes and voters, the
following is requested immediately from EC:
* Repeated continuous information to Pushta voters
through media about booths and transport and
identification procedures so that candidates cannot
mislead them in self-interest.
* In view of possibility of voters staying away from
booths ? arising from reports about possibility of
violence at them ? assurances about their safety and
the safety of their votes
* Information about the right to 'refuse to vote' and,
in view of expected violence at booths, also option
for exercising this right without having to come to
the booth.

Citizens groups inclined to exercise their right to
'refuse to vote' are synergising on...

Last representations:
03.05.04: about reported Pushta polling plans
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mpisgmedia/message/82
13.04.05: for reconsideration of Pushta:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mpisgmedia/message/75







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