Rabindranath Biswas shows his inked finger at his HB Block home. (Prithwish Karforma)
Rabindranath Biswas, a double amputee, got a lift from his HB Block residence to go cast his vote on April 25. The lift was not from any of the political parties which are known to provide transport to their supporters to ensure that they come to vote. It was directly from the Election Commission.
“I was determined to vote and was quite sad in the morning as I thought I would not be able to reach the booth but the Election Commission ensured that my vote did not go waste,” he told The Telegraph Salt Lake.
Biswas, who lost both his legs knee-down in 2011 due to a nervous disorder, now uses prosthetic limbs and can only climb down to the ground floor of his three-storey house where he lives with wife Namita. Naturally he could not go to vote during the violence-marred October 3 corporation elections last year.
But this time Biswas was determined. “After what happened during the corporation elections, I felt I needed to exercise my voting right in anywhich way. So I asked my daughter to find some mode of transport to reach me to the polling booth,” the retired employee of the West Bengal State Electricity Board said.
He sent his daughter Paromita, who was visiting from Delhi, to look for a taxi or a motorised rickshaw but she could find none.
“I even called up a rickshaw-puller whose number I had. But he told me that he had not been allowed to enter the township by the police and the central forces,” said Paromita.
As a last resort, she looked up the Election Commission website. “I texted my predicament to a mobile number which I found on the site. An official replied within five minutes and said that somebody would call us up. Another official soon called us and informed that they would take my father to the polling station,” said Paromita.
The official, along with two others, landed at their doorstep with a car within an hour and escorted Biswas to the polling station — Our Lady Queen of the Missions — more than 500m away from his residence.
Once there, they ensured that Biswas did not have to stand in the queue for even a minute. “I felt honoured by the way the officer supported me and took me to the polling station,” the senior citizen said.
His family is also elated by this gesture. “We had never imagined that something like this could happen. We will remember this for the rest of our lives,” said Namita.
Paromita, too, was overwhelmed. “I never thought that sending an SMS would ensure that my father could reach the polling station. We are grateful to the Election Commission and returning officer for this,” she said.