Get-hooked December 24, 2020
Kerala political party candidate alleges people with intellectual disabilities forced to unconstitutionally cast votes
LDF candidate Stephen Robert who stood for recent Kerala elections from first ward of Kochi Corporation has made allegations against opposition. He stated that a group of people with intellectual disabilities, who do not have legal rights to vote, had casted their votes for the elections due to which Stephen lost by meagre six votes. He has raised a complaint with the Election Commission of India.
Kerala local self-government body election results were announced last week. For LDF candidate Stephen Robert who contested from the first ward of Kochi Corporation, the election he claims, was not a genuine one. Stephen was beaten by a meagre of six votes by his opponent, a UDF candidate. Stephen has now filed a complaint with the Election Commission (EC) of India alleging that people with intellectual disabilities, who do not lawfully have right to vote, were taken to vote by opposition party. Stephen’s complaint alleges that not only have election rules been violated, but a group of people with disabilities have been discriminated by a certain political party in the name of votes.
Need for fair trial
“I need justice for not just me, but all those intellectually disabled people who had to vote. They have not seen campaigns nor are they aware of who is contesting the elections. Unless they can differentiate, how can they vote? People are taking advantage of their condition and that is not fair. It is more like insulting an enture community”, Stephen tells NewzHook. He filed a complaint with EC last Saturday and is now hopeful that justice will be served.
LDF has alleged that it was residents of ‘Good Hope’, a center for elderly and intellectually disabled people who were sent to polling booths in large numbers in buses sent by opposition party. On 10 December, when elections took place, nuns from the center run by Kochi Corporation led more than 40 residents at the home to polling booths.
Stephen says that India is a free country where every person has the right to choose their leader. But those who were imprisoned for certain crimes as well people with intellectual disabilities are barred from casting votes. “So when our party members who witnessed this shocking act questioned the officials at the home, they asked us to let it be since they are intellectually disabled people. Yes, that is the point. People with certain intellectual disabilities cannot cast votes. It is illegal”, adds Stephen who demands not just a re-election but also an apology to people with intellectual disabilities.
According to reports, names of people with certain disabilities who casted their votes in the last elections should not have been added to the voters list. But it was. LDF alleges this was done with knowledge of ‘Good Hope’ faculty. So basically votes were casted by those who accompanied them from ‘Good Hope’, which is yet again illegal.
Faiz Bava, a staunch supporter of LDF and close aide of Stephen says, “What happened was unconstitutional. It is not just about who wins or loses in the election, but how a group of people who cannot differentiate between things have been discriminated in the name of elections. It is more like disrespecting them and violating their disability. This issue must be taken up seriously. As a common man who has the right to vote in this country, this incident has deeply hurt and upset me”.
As the issue is being widely discussed, faculty at ‘Good Hope’ or accused opposition party winner have not shared their comments to the public.
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