GUWAHATI, Dec 1 - Though different organisations have been claiming that names of large number of foreigners were there in the voters� lists of Assam, very few people actually file objections during the time of annual revision of the electoral rolls, admitted former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) HS Brahma.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Brahma said the priority of annual revision of the electoral rolls is to enrol the Indian citizens who attained 18 years of age on the first day of a particular year. As the process of annual revision of electoral rolls in Assam has started, the Indian citizens, who have attained or will attain 18 years of age on January 1, 2021 would be eligible for applying for inclusion of their names in the electoral rolls, he said.
Brahma said names of such applicants should be included in the electoral rolls after proper verification by the officers engaged by the Election Commission. Moreover, any eligible person, whose name is dropped or wrongly published in the electoral rolls, can also apply for inclusion of their names or for corrections.
But unfortunately, the awareness level of people in Assam in this regard is low, which is a cause of concern. Brahma said that very often, different organisations claim that names of foreigners were included in the electoral rolls, but they hardly come forward to file objections after the publication of the draft electoral rolls. He pointed out that anyone can file objections if he/she has any doubt about the citizenship of any person and in such case, officers engaged by the Election Commission have to thoroughly verify all the relevant documents. No action is taken against the complainant even if the objection is found to be incorrect. But because of lack of awareness, very few objections are filed.
The former CEC also expressed the view that as a National Register of Citizens (NRC) has been prepared in Assam, it should be linked with the electoral rolls if possible and the Election Commission would have to take a decision in this regard.
Meanwhile, All Assam Students� Union (AASU) president Dipanka Nath said that it is difficult for the student body to ask its members to file objections on the electoral rolls as the possibility of filing objections against genuine Indian citizens cannot be ruled out. The AASU members should file objections only if they are absolutely sure that a particular person is not an Indian citizen, he added.
Nath also said that the Election Commission should take a tough stand on the issue to ensure preparation of a correct electoral roll. He said that during the time of TN Seshan as the CEC, a tough stand was taken and lakhs of doubtful voters were identified in Assam, he said.
The AASU president also pointed out that the student body has filed a petition in the Supreme Court for re-examination of the NRC. Once a correct NRC is prepared, the voters� list should be prepared on the basis of that, he demanded.