ERAM AGHA,TNN | Mar 20, 2014, 04.13 AM IST
ALIGARH: BJP Lok Sabha candidate from Kairana Hukum Singh, one of the four party MLAs named in an FIR for inciting mobs to violence during the Muzaffarnagar riots, on Wednesday stoked more controversy demanding the riot victims, mostly living in refugee camps, be barred from voting because they didn’t have permanent addresses.
“The riot victims living away from their homes are not eligible to vote,” said Singh, who was also briefly under arrest for his hate speech last year. “These people (the riot victims) are living on government land. In fact, the state government has even ordered them to leave. But they don’t. They are trespassers. How can they be qualified to vote?” Singh told TOI.
Singh’s comment came even as the Muzaffarnagar district administration, with help of a few NGOs, succeeded in giving voting cards to around 25 victims a fortnight ago, promising another 3,200 would be able to vote by month-end. Most victims had lost their voting cards and other relevant documents as they fled from their homes.
Reacting to Singh’s statement, ADM (Muzaffarnagar) Inder Mani Tripathi said, “There are three norms for the right to vote and the riot victims fulfill all of these. One, they should be citizens of the country; two, he or she should be 18 years of age at the time of voting; and, three, resident of any place in the country. Even a man sleeping under a tree is eligible to vote. The riot victims have been away from their villages for six months and have settled in different areas. They are eligible to vote.” Kairana is barely an hour’s drive from Muzaffarnagar where around 60 people were killed during two months of rioting. The only time this seat went to the BJP was in 1999 when Virendra Verma won. In the last three elections, Kairana has gone to RLD twice, with BSP’s Tabassum Begum being the current MP.