By R. Lester Makang
UKHRUL, January 20: For every bona-fide Indian citizen who has attained the voting age of 18 years, possessing of voters ID Card or Elector`s Photo Identity Card (EPIC) is vital because not only does it enable him/her to exercise franchise during elections but also proves their citizenship or personal identity for various other purposes. Many such eligible voters in Ukhrul district, however, still remain deprived of this important document as the state election department has failed to issue them new EPICs though they had surrendered their cards for correction of errors in names, age or other entries over three years back.
Now with the Lok Sabha Election 2014 scheduled for mid-April drawing near, many of these eligible voters are growing apprehensive of losing out on the opportunity to cast their valuable votes in the forthcoming general elections merely through lack of voters ID Cards.
Mention maybe made here that some of these eligible people had been left out of the actual vote casting exercise during the last Manipur Legislative Assembly Election in 2012.
A simple survey conducted by this correspondent at the district Election Office, Ukhrul in this connection has confirmed that issue of over one hundred new EPICs is still pending with the department.
On being quizzed about the number of voters ID Cards pending issuance in the district, the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) maintained that more than one hundred new EPICs for voters who had surrendered their cards are pending till date but failed to furnish the correct figure.
“The exact number is not available with us as the list is probably misplaced now…” he said.
Meanwhile, District Election Officer, Innocence qouting sources from Imphal has said that the process of printing the cards is still going on at Kolkota and the despatch is expected before the forthcoming election.
On the other hand, a resident of Phungreitang who happens to be one of those eligible voters awaiting a new EPIC after surrendering her voter ID Card Monday said on condition of anonymity that that was the same response they had been getting each time they enquired at the office ever since they surrendered the card in 2010 when the DC Office was functioning at the now demolished building of the ADC office.
She further said that on the advice of the ERO, `”we surrendered our respective EPICs along with a processing fee of Rs. 25 per card which they said was stipulated by the head office at Imphal.”
Stating that stipulation was duly complied with in anticipation, she said, “we did this in the hope of exchanging erroneous EPIC with a new one with corrected names and other particulars but after three years of repeated enquiries and waiting, we are back to square one, as we are still kept waiting” before adding that they are often hard pressed to find an alternative document for want of this card all these years.