Doorstep voting facility for senior citizens, disabled this election in Jharkhand

Election duty staff ink marks a voter's finger at a poling booth in Bangalore during the Karnataka Assembly Election. (UNI Photo)
Election duty staff ink marks a voter’s finger at a poling booth in Bangalore during the Karnataka Assembly Election. (UNI Photo)

Nearly 498,000 senior citizens and disabled people in Jharkhand will be able to exercise their franchise from their homes through postal ballot for the first time during this assembly elections, beginning from November 30, officials said.

Jharkhand’s chief electoral officer (CEO), Vinay Kumar Choubey, said the Election Commission of India (ECI) has made provision for voting through postal ballot for senior citizens above the age of 80 years and persons with disability (PWD).

“The voters of these categories who want to cast their votes through the postal ballot will have to fill form-12 D. Once they filled the form, they will not be able to participate in the normal process of voting at polling stations,” Choubey said.

There are nearly 218,000 senior citizen voters above 80 years of age and the number for PWD is around 280,000.

Booth level officers (BLOs) will visit houses of such persons and get these voters to fill the required form. The forms should reach the returning officer within five days following the date of notification of election, officials said.

“Polling teams will be constituted in this regard soon. The number of teams will depend on the number of voters wanting to cast their votes through postal ballot,” Choubey said.

“The team will visit house to house for the election process. Each team will be provided with adequate security and vehicles. Video-recording of the voting will also be done,” he said.

He said these voters would also be informed in advance about the date when the polling team would reach to them.

“The process of postal voting will be completed three days before the polling. For example, Jharkhand will go to the first phase polls on November 30. So, the process of the postal ballot will be completed by November 27,” he said.

Due to old-age complications or disability, many people face trouble to make it to polling stations to cast their votes during elections. The ECI felt their problems and made changes accordingly, officials said.

“After the Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission felt that an amendment in the election rules was needed so that persons with disability can also exercise their rights through postal ballot or e-voting,” chief election commissioner (CEC), Sunil Arora, said this while announcing the election dates for Jharkhand on November 1 in New Delhi.

“So, commission made a recommendation to the union government (ministry of law and justice), which was accepted by the Centre. The new initiative is being introduced for the first time in Jharkhand elections,” he had said.

The poll body has also directed state official to arrange proper access to the disabled, who want to exercise their franchise at polling stations.

Poll Graphics

Total voters: 2.27 crore

Male voters: 11.18 crore

Female voters: 1.09 crore

Third gender voters: 248

Young voters (Age 18-19): 4.21 lakh

Persons with disability: 2.8 lakh

Senior citizens above 80 years: 2.18 lakh

Divyang Park in need of care

Divyang Park in need of care
A dangerous spot at Divyang Park, Sector 5, Panchkula. Amit Bathla

A first-of-its-kind in North India, Divyang Park at Sector 5 in Panchkula has been crying for attention as equipments installed there have been damaged. The park, meant for specially abled children, needs a specialised caretaker as equipments inside it are being misused by adults. Cleanliness in the park is also a matter of concern as wrappers can be seen all over the park. Today, a group of youngsters, all in their 20s, was seen mishandling one of the play equipments meant to be used by specially abled children.

An elderly man sitting on a chair nearby said this happened every day and Divyang Park was badly in need of a caretaker. He said, “Many adults mishandle these equipments meant to be used by divyangs.” Divyang Park has been developed by METL and Reliance Foundation under the guidance of the Social Justice and Empowerment Department, Haryana.

It has been clearly mentioned in a notice put up by the authorities that the park is designed for children with special needs and also for other children to play together to promote inclusion.

Divyang and octogenarian voters to get postal ballot facility

Divyang and octogenarian voters to get postal ballot facility: Jamshedpur DC
Divyang and octogenarian voters to get postal ballot facility: Jamshedpur DC

Jamshedpur, Nov 5: Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Returning Officer Ravi Shankar Shukla Tuesday said the Election Commission of India has for the first time made voting through postal ballot available for Octagenarian and differently-abled voters.

Addressing media representatives, the DC said for the purpose of availing postal ballot facility, a voter will have to fill in Form 12D and apply to the district administration through post or any representative. After verification, further steps will be taken by the administration, he said.

Shukla said applications for postal ballots may be made till 16th November. The polls will be held from 22nd November till 3rd December. He said the voters can choose the method of voting. In case, the voter is not available at home on the chosen polling day, their family will be intimated about the next date for casting vote.

The Returning Officer said for the first time in Jharkhand, Queue Management App will be used in the upcoming state Assembly elections. This would help voters get information on their mobile phones about queue of voters at their respective polling booths, he said.

Shukla said so far 20 polling booths have been identified where voting percentage was low during the last Lok Sabha elections.

Senior Citizens Club Udhampur visits Divyang Ashram

UDHAMPUR: Senior Citizens Club Udhampur in its endeavour to reach the deserving segment of the society visited ‘Divyang Aashram’ Udhampur to fulfill the requirement projected by the inmates of the Aashram to the Club who had celebrated Diwali with Chair ridden inmates.

On the occasion District Superintendent of Police, presented a washing machine to the inmates of the ‘Divyang Aashram’ on behalf of the Club. The Club members also distributed sweets, fruits and other eatable items among the inmates. A large number of civil society members apart from Executive Body, Advisory Board and Members of the Senior Citizens Club assembled on the occasion to exhibit solidarity with the most deserving segment of the society.

Speaking on the occasion, President of the Club Mahadeep Singh Jamwal appealed to the society to come forward to render its social responsibilities towards the especially abled persons, and other segment of the society deserving special attention of the society and assured such fraternity that Club is always at the back and call of all those who feel any sort of assistance from the Senior Citizens Club Udhampur. District SP appreciated the efforts of Senior Citizens Club Udhampur towards the specially abled persons and Club role in awaking the society about social responsibilities they have towards society. He assured the inmates of the Aashram to provide all assistance to them from the Police platter.

MoS Home inaugurates art gallery to honour Divyang people’s art

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy on Monday inaugurated an Art Gallery named ‘Not Just Art’ at UNESCO Cluster House in the national capital.

The Art Gallery has visual art done by artists with disability who came from all across India to showcase their talent with colour and form. The gallery will be open for public viewing on Nov 5, 6 & 7 from 0900 hrs to 1700 hrs.

To honour the talent of artists, the 1st edition of ‘Discovering Ability’ Art Awards was also organised by the gallery, in association with UNESCO and HSBC. The award aims to celebrate the artistic abilities of persons with disability, who have hitherto remained largely unrecognised talent pool. This will help them to express in colour.

Divyang Girl Raped, Threatened By Kangaroo Court In Odisha Village

Speaking on the incident, brother of the survivor said, “My sister was impregnated by Amulya. He must marry her and take care of the child after her delivery.”

Later, when the family members of the girl brought the matter to the notice of Kalahandi Superintendent of Police, he assured to take stringent action against the accused.

After a preliminary probe, police today arrested the prime accused in connection with the incident.

Responding to the case, Junagarh MLA Dibyashankar Mishra said, “I have spoken to the SP regarding the case. The accused will be punished after the completion of investigation.”

Disabled people‘s basic needs not met, abuse in care inquiry told

The Royal Commission investigating abuse in care has heard disabled people in care between the 1950s and 1990s were regularly restrained, neglected and unloved.

The director of the Donald Beasley Institute, Dr Brigit Mirfin-Veitch, gave evidence to the inquiry on the fourth day of its hearing in Auckland.

Dr Mirfin-Veitch was contracted by the Human Rights Commission in 2007 to research the abuse of people with disabilities in care.

For her research, she spoke to five women and 13 men with learning and physical difficulties who were placed in psychopaedic and/or psychiatric hospitals, faith-based, and state institutions between 1950 and 1992.

Eleven of the survivors had a learning disability; two were blind, physically disabled and also had learning disabilities; one was deaf; one person had brain damage as a result of a childhood illness; two people had cerebral palsy; and one person had been misdiagnosed with a learning difficulty as a child.

Dr Mirfin-Veitch said three survivors were Māori and one was from the Cook Islands. The rest were assumed to be Pākehā.

Most of the survivors had been placed in care at a young age and remained there for their entire adult lives, Dr Mirfin-Veitch said.

The people frequently experienced neglect and described feeling unloved in care, she told the Royal Commission.

“They had no special people in their lives there to love, support, and nurture them.”

Survivors often linked their experiences in care with the life-long feeling of being unwanted, she said, and they struggled to trust other adults as they aged.

Basic needs not met

She told the inquiry the survivors‘ basic needs were not met.

Dr Mirfin-Veitch recalled the experience of one survivor who said they could often smell people who needed assistance to go to the bathroom but were never given it.

“There were people who couldn‘t move and they would just stay where they had been left in the morning after breakfast. Most of those people were non-verbal and were trapped until someone got around to attending to them.”

The Royal Commission heard disabled people in care lived in constant fear and some put their own mechanisms in place to try and stop the abuse.

One person, Dr Mirfin-Veitch said, stopped talking because “talking got her into trouble”, and felt it was safer to stay silent.

Survivors also experienced sexual violence that was an “inescapable and unchallenged reality” for disabled people in care, Dr Mirfin-Veitch said.

She told the inquiry many felt nothing could be done about the abuse, so would keep quiet and hope it wouldn‘t happen again.

While many believed institutional abuse in care was in the past, she said, there were still clear gaps in the system that allowed abuse in care to continue.

Dr Mirfin-Veitch told the Royal Commission those who experienced the trauma in care deserved to know how it was allowed to happen.

Control and restraint

Survivors also spoke about control and restraint at the hands of those entrusted with their welfare.

“Including being told, but not limited to, when to shower, when to shave, when to eat, when to dress,” said Dr Mirfin-Veitch.

She said the victims strongly felt they were trapped in state care.

She quoted another survivor.

“If you run away they put you in pajamas and on the bad table and you had to stay in pajamas all day while others had their clothes on. You had to sit in one corner by yourself and you don‘t have your friends around you.”

Dr Mirfin-Veitch said sexual violence seemed to be an inescapable and unchallenged reality for a significant number of disabled in state care and many perpetrators were never held to account.

“For example one survivor was sexually assaulted at knife-point by an older peer when she was 11 and despite her being able to point him out, there was no sense in her story that the perpetrator was punished.”

An historian, disability rights activist and mother of an adult disabled son, Dr Hilary Stace told the Commission that nothing about disability support now or in the past, shocked her.

Dr Hilary Stace. Photo: RNZ / Katie Scotcher

Dr Stace said an official apology to survivors was needed.

“So I think we really need that apology from the top for over a century of state-based policies targeting disabled children, young people and adults. It was wrong, it was unjust and its legacy lingers in ongoing reports of disability discrimination and abuse.”

Dr Stace described many of the survivors of abuse in state care as heroes.

The Royal Commission resumes hearing more evidence on Monday in Auckland.

Cora Courier