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I-card plaque for dead voters
- Minister accuses chief election commissioner of 'tainting' image of Bengal

Third Mile (Darjeeling), Feb. 6: A precedent of sorts.

If the entire country followed in the footsteps of this small hamlet, situated 27 km from Darjeeling, in disposing of voters' identity cards, the Election Commission would have been spared half its troubles.

The 600-odd villagers of 3rd Mile have developed a unique 'tradition' of using the voter cards of those who have died as commemorative plaques on memorials erected for them.

It has been a tradition in the hills to set up stupas in memory of the dead as soon as the last rites are completed. However, instead of using plaques made of copper or marble, as is the practice, the voters' identity card is laminated and put up on the stupas here. The identity card is also covered with glass to ensure that rains and the sun do not spoil it.

No one remembers how this tradition started, but it has been in existence ever since voter identity cards were first issued about five years ago.

Buddha Tami, a resident of the area, said: 'Somehow it started and we have been following it, as we realised that there was no use for the voter's identity card once a person died.'

Like other residents of the village, Thami has also erected a memorial with the voter's card when his wife Bhiktu Tamang died in 2003.

The tradition now seems to have caught the imagination of the people of Paitaishiya and Gaddhikhan.'These areas are close to our village and so they have been influenced by us,' said Thami.

The fact that all the three cemeteries in the area ' Ground Dara (for the Tamangs and Sherpas), Bhaisi Kathna Chour (for Rais) and Trishula Dhara (for Bhujels) ' have memorials with voter identity cards is proof enough of the 'strong rooted' tradition that has come into existence.

Bangla threat

Illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in Darjeeling district have come under the scanner after Election Commission officials received complaints that they have been issuing death threats to people who are trying to expose them, reports our correspondent.

The issue was brought up by the Trinamul Congress when poll observer to the district M. Nagaraju met representatives of different political parties here today.

'We have identified 14 Bangladeshis whose names are on the voters' list. They have, however, threatened to kill me before fleeing to Bangladesh if they are exposed,' said Trinamul Naxalbari block unit president Gautam Kirtania. He added that an FIR has already been filed against the Bangladeshis.

Nagaraju said the threat issue would be looked into very seriously.

The report of the summary revision completed till January 30, 2006 shows that 10,994 names have so far been deleted from the voters' list in the district.

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