The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Great Bengal birth miracle

Calcutta, Jan. 2: The number 24971 is special ' three people have it on their birth certificates. Mohammed Jahid is one of them.

Then there are the Shrestha siblings ' born within a month of each other.

The Election Commission, which detected irregularities in distribution of voter identity cards in a random check in Murshidabad, Malda and Birbhum districts, is finding out oddities like the examples above in Calcutta, too.

It came to light that three people have the same registration number on their birth certificates when Jahid applied for inclusion of his name in the voters’ list. He gave 8, Elliot Lane as his address and furnished a copy of his birth certificate as proof that he was 18.

“It is evident that Jahid’s as well as the other (two) certificates are not genuine,” said Deb Kumar Chakraborty, Calcutta district election officer.

A tailoring shop resides at the address mentioned by Jahid.

“Does Md Jahid live here'” a Telegraph correspondent asked. “He sleeps here at night. In the day, he works for an interior decorator firm,” said a boy, working at a tailoring machine.

“Wasn’t he born here (as claimed in his birth certificate issued by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation) in March 1987'”

“Of course not. Jahid came to Calcutta from Gaya five years ago in search of work. He and I were born in the same year,” said the boy, who revealed that he was 16.

Jahid shares certificate no. 24971 with Tauhid Alam and Md Akram, both residents of Elliot Lane, who have applied seeking inclusion of names in the voters’ list.

Sixteen such birth certificates have been discovered during random checks of Form 6 (application for inclusion of name in voters’ list) from the Entally Assembly constituency alone by the election office.

Certificate 24972 is as special as its preceding number ' three women share it.

Seven FIRs have been lodged by the Calcutta district election office involving 11 persons at Burrabazar police station so far.

“Nine more cases of forgery have been detected, including one duplicate certificate in the Ballygunge Assembly segment, which was discovered on Saturday. In the case of six other certificates, we’re writing to the CMC, seeking verification,” said an official.

Chakraborty said that in view of the forgeries, his office would conduct intensive checking of all applications in the Entally and Taltala Assembly segments.

“It’s an attempt to get false voters included in the list. They got blank birth certificate forms from the CMC and unless there is an organised racket, from where do they get these documents'” asked an official.

The CPM is often accused of getting fake voters enrolled in the list.

It could not be ascertained if the election authorities were planning to refer the example of Arindam and Atashi Shrestha to the internationally respected magazine Science.

For brother and sister to be born within a month of each other ' Arindam on August 8, 1985, and Atashi September 5, 1985 ' should be a scientific miracle, if ever there was one.

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