Mokokchung, 25 January (MTNews): In a revelation that points towards potential irregularities in the electoral process, RTI activists Odi Jamir and ST Yapang Longkumer have exposed concerning details surrounding the deletion of 402 voters under Changtongya jurisdiction during the E-roll publication on 27 October 2023. The activists assert that this mass deletion occurred without any valid reasons, raising questions about the transparency and accountability of the Mokokchung Election Office.
The duo sought to ascertain the reason for deletion of voters by utilizing the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005. Their application for inspection was submitted on 12 December 2023, to which the DC Office, Mokokchung responded, agreeing to an inspection date on 8 or 9 January 2024. Upon inspection on 9 January, the activists discovered significant shortcomings in the reasons provided for the deletion of voters.
The RTI reply, dated 9 January 2024, revealed that on 23 November 2022, Mokokchung DC & DEO received a letter containing cases of 9737 Photo Similar Entries (PSE) for identification from the Chief Election Officer’s office. These cases were to be assigned to the respective Booth Level Officers (BLOs), who would then verify and submit reports in the Garuda App. The Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) would take action based on these reports. However, the BLOs under Changtongya jurisdiction claimed that they did not recommend the deletion of the 402 voters.
Furthermore, the activists highlighted a crucial lapse in record-keeping at the Mokokchung Election Office. As per RTI ACT 2005 Sec 4.1, every public authority should maintain records cataloged and indexed, ensuring accessibility. However, the activists found that there were no records maintained regarding the reasons for voter deletion. The Election Office attributed this to data loss during the migration from ERONet 1.0 to ERONet 2.0 on 10 May 2023.
Expressing their dissatisfaction, the activists stated that losing data during app migrations is not justifiable, especially considering the fast-paced technological changes. They emphasized the need to fight against such data losses to prevent recurrence in the future.
Regarding the deletion of voters, the Mokokchung Election Office suggested that deleted voters could be re-added if proven genuine. However, the activists rebuffed this, stating that they would seek justice in court for what they deemed an unjustifiable act of deleting voters without valid reasons.
Notably, among the deleted voters is the wife of ST Yapang Longkumer’s brother, belonging to a non-Ao tribe. This case, according to the activists, not only signifies the deletion of a voter but demean culture.
“When we inquired about her deletion from the voter list with the BLOs, we learned that it was not just her but a total of 402 voters were deleted. Therefore, it necessitated us to seriously look into this act of demeaning matter,” they added.