The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Voter I-cards dumped on riverbed

Chennai, July 5: Looking to reclaim your lost identity' Try a riverbed.

Hundreds of voter identity cards were yesterday found scattered on the dry riverbed of the Vaigai in Madurai, shocking the district administration and election authorities in Tamil Nadu.

Along with the cards were badges of a few poll officials, some pages from the electoral rolls and ration cards that were found amid the garbage dumped on the riverbed.

The cards were found at a time when the Election Commission has ordered a probe into the largescale deletion of names from voters’ lists in the state during the recent Lok Sabha elections, including names of those who had been issued photo-identity cards.

Mrutyunjay Sarangi, the state’s chief electoral officer, said he has asked for a detailed report from the district administration on how the cards had found their way to the riverbed.

Sources said local residents first noticed a few children playing with the cards and brought it to the notice of the mayor. Police then stepped in.

Madurai district officials, however, sought to play down the development when contacted from the capital Chennai. They said local police had “recovered only three electors’ photo-identity cards from the Vaigai riverbed”.

It remains a mystery how the others had disappeared so quickly as local dailies have published photographs showing a large number of identity cards lying scattered.

Sources in the Madurai district collectorate today said these cards were of voters in the Kadaladi Assembly segment, which falls in the Ramanathapuram Lok Sabha constituency. “We have forwarded them to the Ramanathapuram district collector today and it is for them to probe and take necessary action,” said a source.

“These (three) cards appear to be genuine prima facie and issued some three years back. But as of now, there is no penal provision under existing election laws that can be slapped on voters for losing identity cards,” the source said.

It is up to Ramanathapuram police and the district administration to decide what should be done next as “these cards do not pertain to our area of jurisdiction”, an official added.

Others said the discovery of the cards spoke volumes of the disenchantment that might have set in among voters, many of whom complained that despite having laminated identity cards they could not exercise their franchise as their names were not on the list.

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