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In UP last lap, BJP writes to EC: Use women cops to check voters in burqa

UP polls 2017: Both phases cover 89 seats in eastern UP, a region with a signficant share of Muslim voters.

Written by Ritika Chopra , Lalmani Verma | Lucknow/new Delhi |
Updated: June 18, 2020 2:49:31 pm
Burqa clad Muslim women show their voter ID card while lined up outside a polling station to cast their vote for BMC elections at Dharavi on Tuesday. Express photo by Prashant Nadkar Burqa clad Muslim women show their voter ID card while voting. (Express photo)

The Uttar Pradesh BJP has asked the Election Commission to deploy women police officials at booths during the sixth and seventh phases of the Assembly elections on March 4 and March 8 respectively to ostensibly check the identity of burqa-clad women. The BJP has claimed that not doing so will facilitate bogus voting.

BJP state vice-president and state election management in-charge J P S Rathore and party’s administration affairs in-charge Kuldeep Pati Tripathi have sent a letter to Chief Election Commissioner, New Delhi, as well as to Chief Electoral Officer of UP.

In the letter, they have alleged that many burqa-clad women turn up to cast their vote. “Hence deployment of women police personnel will be justified so that voter’s ID could be checked properly and no fake person/woman could cast a vote. It is requested to deploy women police staff at polling booths in sixth and seventh phases of election,” the letter says.

WATCH VIDEO | UP Polls: BJP Asks Election Commission To Deploy Women Police To Check Voter ID’s Of Burqa-Clad Women

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Both phases cover 89 seats in eastern UP, a region with a signficant share of Muslim voters.

When contacted, Rathore told The Indian Express that the EC deploys only male police personnel outside polling booths who cannot check the identity of burqa-clad Muslim women. “If the presiding officer has doubt about the identity of any burqa-clad woman, he hesitates to check. As there are only male police officers outside booths, presiding officers avoid making any complaint and can’t even alert police if any woman is caught for bogus voting,” Rathore claimed. He said that if women police personnel were deployed, they could check burqa-clad voters.

Additional Chief Electoral Officer (ACEO) Pramod Kumar Pandey said that the BJP has demanded the deployment of women police constables but police are not empowered to check identity of voters — they are stationed outside the polling booth. “The voter’s identity can be checked only by the Presiding Officer, first polling officer and second polling officer. Generally, at least one woman is deployed as polling officer who can check identity,” Pandey said.

Sources said the EC’s handbook for Returning Officers already has a provision for identification of “pardasheen women” or women in veil.

“Only the Presiding Officer and his team of polling officers are permitted to identify a voter with the help of the election card or photo voter slip. However, rules permit the Presiding Officer to rope in a local woman to identify a pardasheen woman and even frisk her, if needed. This local attendant is also expected to assist female voters in voting. A pardasheen woman is not necessarily a Muslim. In villages, Hindu women wear long ghunghat and the assistance of a woman attendant is required to identify them as well,” said an EC official who did not wish to be identified.

In the same letter, the BJP has also asked for deployment of paramilitary forces at sensitive polling booths in Mau and Ballia districts. Mau is where don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari is contesting on a BSP ticket.

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