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PMC polls: Bent double, 90-year-old woman casts vote, son carries her to polling booth

No wheelchair, no ramp for the disabled and old voters at many PMC polling booths.

Written by Alifiya Khan , Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
February 22, 2017 1:36:47 am
PMC polls, disable friendly booths, disabled friendly, no ramps, no wheelchairs, old woman voter, 90-year-old voter, pune elections, pune municipal elections, india news, indian express news Vinayak carries Ratanbai Patankar to the polling booth.

When 90-year-old Ratanbai Patankar from Shukrawar Peth decided to cast her vote, her son, Vinayak, had no option but to physically carry her in his arms and take her to the polling booth. “Her wheelchair is broken and there was no ramp at the booth. So what is the point of asking them for a wheelchair,” said Vinayak. Ratanbai, who can barely stand without support, said, “I had given my word to the candidate, who had come to our house, that I would vote. So, I had to go”. Vinayak had to lift his mother and take her to the polling booth located at Bansilal Ramnath Agarwal school in Raviwar Peth.

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Sushila More, 72, had to sit at the polling booth in Mahadji Shinde School for a while before the officers could arrange a wheelchair for her. “My knees have deteriorated with age and I was unable to climb two flights of stairs with my walking stick,” said More. While the election officials did manage to arrange a wheelchair, there was no ramp, so More’s wheelchair had to be lifted by four men and taken up two flights of stairs, so that she could cast her vote.

“If ramps can’t be constructed, then why can’t they set aside a special room on the ground floor for the elderly and differently-abled voters? At least we will not be have to undergo such discomfort,” said More.

Yashoda Shevale, 86, was determined to cast her vote. She was helped by her son and daughter-in-law in the polling booth at Gavali Udyan in Bhosarigaon. “There was no wheelchair and no ramp… I have always voted in elections and did not want to miss this one,” said the octogenarian.

For Vanita Navle from Wanowrie and Vimla Prasad from Bhosari, who had undergone spine and leg surgery respectively a couple of months ago, exercising their franchise was crucial. “My granddaughter assisted me and I took really small steps… so that I didn’t hurt my back,” said Navle. Prasad was helped by her son and daughter-in-law, who helped her reach the booth, despite a plaster on her leg.

Sohail Furniturewala, who had come to Salunkhe Vihar Housing Society to cast his vote with his 87-year-old mother Rabiya, said at least three senior family members were still waiting to cast their votes, as there were no facilities to help the elderly at the polling centre.

Baidabai Jaganath Shinde, 72, faced considerable difficulty in casting her vote at the Sant Gadge Maharaj Primary School in Kondhwa. “… Outside the booth, they had a ramp but inside, there are so many steps and they are so steep…. Why don’t they think of seniors like us?” she asked.

(with inputs from Partha Sarathi Biswas)
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