Purnima Boro at her home in Guwahati. Picture by Rajiv Konwar
Guwahati, April 24: Exactly two months ago she lost her husband, Pranab Boro, and today Purnima spent her day doing household chores because her name was missing from the voter list.
Purnima’s husband had set himself on fire in front of the Assam secretariat on February 24 in a demonstration, organised by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, demanding land rights for the landless people in the city.
“Yesterday, I sent my sister to see if my name was on the electoral rolls. But it was not there. Government officials visited our house and collected documents to include our name in the electoral rolls. This time, too, we have been deprived from casting our votes,” Purnima said.
She said her family had been living in their shack in the Garchuk area of the city for the last 20 years. “Our children were born here and have grown up here. Yet, we haven’t got our voting rights,” she said.
“On earlier occasions, I had personally gone to see whether my name was in the electoral rolls. But this time, after the incident (death of Pranab Boro), I have been troubled. So, I sent my sister whose name was also not on the voter list,” she said.
However, the state government had earlier challenged the Boro family’s claim of living there for 20 years.
Purnima’s house is at Janampuri village that is around 1km from NH 37. Inaccessible to vehicles, to visit the village, one has to walk 300 metres up a steep kutcha road. There is no electricity in most of the households and a lower primary school set up by missionaries caters to the needs of the village.
The villagers whose names were present in the electoral rolls cast their votes at Pub Bora Gao Lower Primary School. Receiving land deeds was one of the hopes that drove them to vote.
“We want land deeds and roads,” said Hiramoni Boro, who was waiting to cast her vote.
Rashmi Daimary, another voter, said no candidate had campaigned in her area. But numerous posters of the AGP candidate — whom the KMSS is backing — could be seen on the walls of houses and of Bethan Promotional School, the lone school of the village. A few BJP and AIUDF posters could also be seen.
A KMSS worker claimed nine of the 11 hills in the Garchuk area are under their influence. “We have visited every household and requested people to vote for the candidate we have backed,” he said.
A few weeks ago, KMSS president Akhil Gogoi appealed to voters of Gauhati constituency to vote for either AGP candidate Birendra Prasad Baishya or BJP candidate Bijoya Chakravarty. “But after the announcement, the party surveyed the constituency and decided to back only the AGP candidate,” the KMSS worker said.