In 2014, Lubna Sarwat was a Lok Sabha contestant from the Malkajgiri constituency in Telangana’s Hyderabad. Just four years later, she along with her mother, was not even a valid voter from the area. Amid an uproar over the mass deletion of voters that shook Telangana in 2018, Sarwat, a well-known rights and lake protection activist, found that her name and that of her mother were missing from the voter list.
Sarwat, like many others, didn’t know that the names had gone missing until she went looking for it on the list. Sarwat says she did not receive any notice from the Election Commission of India (ECI) before the deletion. Nor was there any visit by the local booth-level officer to physically verify the existence or otherwise of the voter at the given address.
The names disappeared reportedly in the process of linking Aadhaar cards with voter IDs. The numbers were mind-boggling. Not one, two or a few hundred, as many as 3 million (30 lakh) voters found their names struck off the voter list that year depriving them of the right to vote in the 2018 Assembly elections.
The central government’s Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, which was passed last December during the Winter Session of Parliament and proposes to link Aadhaar with voter ID, has brought back bitter memories of the experiences Telangana’s 3 million people had in 2018.
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