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West Bengal Assembly Elections 2021: Sports icon for disabled voters in Jalpaiguri

Saswati Guha Roy, who is a hearing-impaired person since her birth, will explain to voters through sign language about importance of voting

Our Correspondent Jalpaiguri Published 11.03.21, 02:04 AM
Saswati Guha Roy

Saswati Guha Roy Sourced by The Telegraph

A sportswoman in Jalpaiguri who can’t speak or hear but has proved her mettle in different national sports events both as an athlete and as a coach has been selected as the icon by the Jalpaiguri district administration to encourage physically-challenged voters to exercise their rights in the Assembly elections.

Saswati Guha Roy, who is in the mid-forties and is a hearing-impaired person since her birth, will move around across the district and would explain to voters through sign language about the importance of voting, the use of EVMs and the significance of VVPAT and how one should maintain the Covid-19 safety protocols during the elections.


Saswati, who resides at Raikatpara here, is known for her prowess as a basketball player and as an athlete. In the nineties, she had secured medals in state and national level sports events hosted for deaf and dumb sportspersons.

In 2005, she had participated in the special Olympics in Melbourne. Later, she had trained players and in 2017, she was the chief coach of the national games for the deaf and dumb in Chennai.

As The Telegraph met and interacted with Saswati via WhatsApp, the woman appeared confident that she would be able to convince physically-challenged voters as a section of them feels discouraged to exercise their franchise.

“I thank the administration for selecting me for the campaign. During the lockdown, I have attended a number of virtual sessions where I have emphasised the need to bring in more and more physically-challenged people to the sports arena,” she said through Whatsapp.

Moumita Godara Basu, the district magistrate of Jalpaiguri, said: “She will be the face of our campaign. The Election Commission has given impetus to specially-challenged voters and there are provisions even to cast votes through postal ballots if they find it inconvenient to reach the booths. Saswati Guha Roy has the experience to work with such persons and hence, she will move around the district and encourage such voters.”

Saswati, who is a graduate, also has diplomas in information technology and in management of deaf and dumb persons.

As of now, Saswati is working as an executive assistant at the block health centre of Rajganj in Jalpaiguri that is located at Belakoba, around 25km from Jalpaiguri town.

“Her success in the sports arena and her experience to interact with specially challenged persons can help us get more and more such people to the booths. We have already communicated with her and she is eager to join us in the campaign,” said an official of the district administration.

Sanjoy Chakraborty, the secretary of Jalpaiguri Welfare Organisation — a social organisation with which Saswati is associated — has also appreciated the administration’s decision.

“For years now, she had been taking care of deaf and dumb people who often turn up in our office for different purposes. She is indeed a role model for such people and we believe this new engagement will bolster her confidence to work for people,” said Chakraborty.

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