Friday, April 23, 2021
North East

Assam’s Garo hamlet yet to find place in country’s electoral map

LONGTURI PAHAR (Assam), April 14: Nestling in the dense forests along the Assam-Meghalaya border, about 90 km from Guwahati, this hamlet is yet to find its place in the electoral map of the country.
The 25 Garo families dwelling here have given up hoping that they can make it to the electoral rolls in the third round of the Lok Sabha election when Guwahati goes to the polls on April 23. Several visits to the Kamrup district election office to get themselves enlisted as voters have borne no fruit.
This election season when neighbouring villages are buzzing with high decibel campaigns, Longturi Pahar cuts a sorry figure—there are no candidates coming here to seek votes, there are no posters on the walls and no microphones blaring speeches. Neither are there any political discussions about the political fate of the state or the country. But just about 25 km from here, Boko town is witnessing a fierce campaign between rivals BJP and Congress. Nominees and their supporters are sweating it out in the heat wooing the mixed population of voters.
“Most of the villagers in Longturi Pahar are original inhabitants, only about five families migrated from insurgency-hit Karbi Anglong district in 2004. Today, the village has about 130 villagers who have attained the age of 18 and are eligible voters. We went to the Kamrup district election office twice this year but could not get our problem solved. We will be deprived of our voting rights this year too,” said village headman Tharjen R Marak on Friday.
He added, “The campaign trail never reaches the hillocks across the dense forests. Election officials never entered our village and so we don’t have voter cards.”
Apart from electrical connection, which the villagers got in the last five years, and a muddy road constructed by the villagers themselves, no government scheme has reached them. For drinking water, the families rely on a stream flowing down the hills which they have connected to their homes through pipes. Government water supply remains a distant dream.
Fellow villager Jipin Sangma said they settled here almost nine years ago after migration from Mulajan near Dokmoka in Karbi Anglong in search of land for cultivation. He did not know then that he would land in a village which had no voting rights.
“We paid land revenue at Boko Mauzadar’s office between 2010 and 2016. Even after that there is no progress in the area. We had hoped the voting rights would usher in development but nothing happened,” he lamented.
He said that development eluded this fringe village because no government extended the mainstream benefits to them. “We don’t play a role in the election, so why bother about us,” he said.
Kamrup deputy commissioner and district election officer, Kamal Baishya, when contacted, said the issue of ‘dual voters’ may have hampered their entry into the electoral rolls. Though the villagers did not mention having voter identity cards of Meghalaya, Baishya said, “We have no knowledge of any village without voter identity cards. It would be too late now to complete official proceedings for fresh inclusion of names in the electoral rolls just a few days before Guwahati goes to the polls. (TNN)