Gandhinagar, Nov 25: The beauty of a democracy lies in giving its citizens their right to vote and elect their representatives for a fixed term.
Unfortunately, thousands are still denied their basic right to vote because of administrative blockages. Consider the case of transgender community in Surat, Gujarat.
Gujarat is going to polls in a few days from now, yet transgenders in Surat's Godadara area are still waiting to get their voter ID cards, the most important tool for anyone to go and vote.
The Gujarat Assembly elections are scheduled on December 9 and 14. The counting of votes will take place on December 18, as stated by the Election Commission (EC).
Surat will vote on December 9, during the first phase of polling. When transgenders from Godadara rue the fact that they didn't get their voter ID cards, it looks like this time they won't be able to vote for very few days is left for elections.
The members of the marginalised community allege that the authorities didn't help them to get their voter ID cards.
Expressing their anguish about being denied the right to vote, Payal Kunwar told ANI that she is the only one in the community in the entire Godadara area who has a voter ID card. However, Kunwar claimed that her gender was wrongly mentioned due to which she had to face a lot of problems to open a bank account.
"No one here has a voter ID card, except me. When I received it, my name was mentioned under the female gender, I am a transgender. So, whenever I produce the voter card, I am told that they have mentioned female in it. I had to face a lot of problems to open my bank account," said Kunwar.
Another transgender said that she has an Aadhaar card, but no voter ID card. "I just have an Aadhaar card but no voter card. I do not even have a bank account. They turn me away whenever I go to them," said Khushboo.
A distressed Khushboo added that she too wants to cast her vote like everyone else.
#Gujarat: Transgenders in Surat's Godadara say that they are unable to cast their vote in the election as they do not have a Voter ID Card, add that they are receiving no help in getting their cards made. pic.twitter.com/7DCtMftHqs— ANI (@ANI) November 24, 2017
No one here except me has a Voter ID card. When I received it, my name was mentioned under female gender. I am a transgender. Whenever I produce it, I am told that they have mentioned female on it. I had to face a lot of problem to open my bank account.: Payal Kunwar pic.twitter.com/F7fOMROKEx— ANI (@ANI) November 24, 2017
I just have an Aadhaar Card but no Voter Card. I do not even have a bank account. They turn me away whenever I go to them. I want to cast my vote too just like anyone else.: Khushboo pic.twitter.com/OXpNQUwuJ5— ANI (@ANI) November 24, 2017
"The transgender community is one of the most marginalised sections in India. If they can't vote because of administrative negligence by denying them their voter ID cards then it is a cause of concern," said an activist who works for the LGBT community in Karnataka.
The transgenders like all of us can vote once they attain the age of 18. However, most often because of widespread discrimination they fail to vote.
According to an official estimate, there are 450,000 transgender people in India, while the actual number may be around 20,00,000.