The Telegraph
Tuesday , March 25 , 2014
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Job plight for schoolteacher

- Booth training request for visually impaired persons

Patna, March 24: The next month’s Lok Sabha elections would be a nightmare for Mohammad Shahid Raza. In spite of being visually impaired, the Gaya Town Primary School teacher has been assigned poll duty.

Raza almost became a laughing stock for the instructors and other officials at the training of polling officials at Gaya Zilla School yesterday. He has been appointed first polling officer for the Gaya (SC) parliamentary constituency election to be held on April 10. Raza got an appointment letter regarding this from the district magistrate-cum-district election officer on March 15.

Raza (46) said helplessly: “I am caught between the devil and the deep sea. If I fail to obey the DM’s order, disciplinary action would be initiated against me. And if I report to the polling booth allotted to me, I wouldn’t be able to discharge my duty in right earnest.” A certificate issued by the social security cell of Gaya district administration confirmed that Raza has 75 per cent visual disabilities.

Raza, a resident of Gibal Bigha locality in Gaya town, can’t move alone. “If I am assigned poll duty in remote areas, it would be a double whammy for me. It is troublesome commuting to far-off places. But there is no one to take care of my sufferings,” he said, adding that he has sought an appointment with the district election officer.

Raza is not alone. Pankaj Kumar, also a visually impaired teacher of Gaya Zilla School, has been assigned poll duty despite the Election Commission’s instruction not to involve such people in election-related work. (See chart)

Gaya-based social worker Shafi Ahmad shot off a letter to state chief electoral officer Ajay V. Naik today, requesting the latter to provide him the list of the physically challenged persons engaged in election duty. “At the same time, I have sought to know from the commission about the arrangements made for physically challenged voters at the polling booths,” he said.

R. Laxmanan, the additional chief electoral officer, said: “I have not received any complaint till date. If it is true, then the anomaly would be rectified.”

Gaya DM Balamurgan D. was unavailable for comment.