Bihar plans separate polling booths for weaker sections

May 23rd, 2008 - 2:54 pm ICT by admin  

Patna, May 23 (IANS) Hundreds of separate polling booths will be set up for socially marginalised and weaker sections of society in Bihar to enable them to vote without fear, an official said Friday. In a bid to check rigging and use of muscle power in all polls in the future, the election commission has directed the state government to set up separate booths for marginalised and weaker sections, mostly dalits.

“We have been directed to set up separate booths for marginalised and weaker sections of society to stop use of muscle power against them during elections,” State Chief Electoral Officer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh told IANS.

He has asked all the district magistrates - who are also the electoral officers - to identify such voters and prepare their list so that separate booths can be set up.

“Separate booths for weaker sections of society will be set up in the state for the first time,” he said.

He said that a separate booth will be set up in a village if the number of such voters is less than 300 and there is a suitable government building where the booth can be established.

In rural Bihar, voters from weaker sections of society are often kept away by force from polling booths. Those who resisted are often assaulted, humiliated or killed.

Dalit activists have been demanding separate booths. “Most of the booths are now located in villages dominated by powerful people and far away from the houses of the dalits,” said Baban Rawat, a member of Maha Dalit Commission.

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