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Mandatory I-cards hold back 'Bangladeshi' voters?

Written by: Staff
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Guwahati, Apr 4 (UNI) Low voter turnout in Bangladeshi-dominated constituencies was recorded in the first phase of Asom Assembly elections.

Karimganj and Hailakandi districts and Silchar in Cachar district saw a significant decrease in voter turnout in the polling yesterday. The three districts. registered 67.34, 79.14 and 68.20 per cent voting respectively in the 2001 Assembly polls.

However, Karimganj recorded about 65 per cent voting this time.

Similarly, both Hailakandi and Silchar recorded about 60 per cent polling each.

The voting trend in Hojai sub-division of Nagaon district also witnessed a fall. Against 76.67 per cent polling in 2001 elections in Jamunamukh constituency, about 66 per cent polling was recorded this year.

In Hojai, against 72.54 per cent during the last polls, a little over 51 per cent was recorded this time. Similarly, in Lumding also, only about 45 per cent was recorded against 74.81 per cent in the last Assembly polls.

Compulsory showing of identification documents for casting ballot was being construed as a primary reason for the low turnout in these predominantly Muslim areas.

Most of these constituencies share porous international border with Bangladesh and are suspected to house a majority of infiltrators.

With identification made mandatory, Bangladeshi nationals living in this side of the border were believed to have refrained from voting.

An Election Commission official refused to comment on this trend and said a detailed study was necessary to arrive at the real reason.

All Assam Students' Union advisor Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharyya said this trend proved the students' bodies claim that Bangladeshi immigrants used to vote freely in the state.

He said, ''This trend shows that Bangladeshis voted in the state earlier. Hence, we have been demanding revision of the electoral rolls.'' UNI SG SP PL PK KP1520

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