‘Ensure fearless voting by Dalits’

Community faced difficulties in exercising their franchise during Rajasthan Assembly elections

JAIPUR: The National Dalit Election Watch on Saturday called for measures to facilitate fearless voting by Dalits in the Lok Sabha elections in an atmosphere free from threats, intimidation and coercion by dominant groups belonging to the so-called higher castes in Rajasthan. Dalits reportedly faced such difficulties during the recent State Assembly elections.

Dalit groups demanded at a State-level convention here that the Election Commission, Chief Electoral Officer and Director-General of Police take steps to ensure security of Dalit voters in all sensitive areas and launch immediate action in the cases of Dalits being attacked, forced to stay at home or coerced into exercising franchise in favour of a specific candidate or party.

National Dalit Election Watch coordinator Prasad Chako said Dalits had a constitutional right as equal citizens to take part in the general elections and cast their votes for whichever party or candidate they supported. “Intimidation of Dalits is a grave offence and it deserves to be treated seriously,” he added.

Centre for Dalit Rights Director Satish Kumar said the Dalit communities in the State had become wiser after their experiences during the Assembly elections and would not tolerate any attempt to hoodwink public opinion about the voting pattern among Dalits. He said the Dalit activists had asked the senior police officers to take all precautionary measures for safety and security of Dalit voters.

Dalit Election Watch State convenor Gopal Ram Verma said a control room for Dalit voters, established in Jaipur on April 1, would function round the clock till May 15 and respond immediately to the complaints of Dalits.