Theweekendleader

Delhi's disabled cast a smooth, hurdle-free vote

New Delhi

10-April-2014

Ajanta Pokhrel, 32 and visually impaired, described her vote-casting experience Thursday here as "different". With polling stations equipped with wheelchairs, Braille sheets and designated volunteers for assistance. Delhi's differently-abled community hailed the provisions made by the Election Commission as a pleasant one.

"I could not vote during the assembly elections, but this time I was impressed with the facilities. Though I took someone along for assistance, volunteers were present at the polling booth to help those who had come alone," Pokhrel, who is a computer teacher for the blind, cast her vote at south Delhi's Sadiq Nagar area, told IANS.

She added that the Braille sheets helped her make a correct choice.

This is the third phase of the nine-phase Lok Sabha polls, and 13 other states, along with the national capital went to the polls.

Agreed Ashish Gupta, who also voted at the same booth, and said that police personnel were also helpful.

"We were given Braille sheets with the names of the candidates to remember before casting our vote. At the time of voting, policemen helped us with the procedure," Gupta, 24, said.

It is not only the visually impaired, even those with walking difficulties were provided help.

"I vote every year, but this time I voted with much more ease. I received help from the security people at the booth who helped me in lifting my wheelchair to go inside the room," wheelchair-bound Jitendra Pathak, who is paralysed waist down, said.

Calling the overall experience "wonderful", Disability Rights Group convener Javed Abidi said that it was not only the facilities, the staff deployed at the booths were courteous too.

"It was quite perfect. As I stopped the car outside the polling station, the police itself allowed me to take my car inside the premises. There were wheelchairs present as well," Abidi told IANS.

"The overall experience was wonderful, and even the staff was courteous. However, as hyped, I could not see a single volunteers with the 'may I help you batch'," he shared.

Another voter, Santosh, who was driving his battery-operated wheelchair said that he was allowed to take his vehicle inside the booth without any hassles.

"It was a smooth experience," the 60-year-old who voted against "corruption and price rise" told IANS.

Ramesh Kumar, who is afflicted with polio was helped by his uncle in reaching the polling booth.

"Ek chai wala doosre chai wale ko vote nahi dega to kisko dega(A tea seller will vote only to another tea seller)," Kumar, who runs a tea shop in east Delhi's Dallupura area told IANS, making a direct reference to Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial nominee, Narendra Modi.

A.S. Narayanan, general secretary, National Association of the Deaf (NAD) said: "Today, when we went to vote, there was someone there to lead and guide us on how to caste a vote. This time was better than before."

Delhi has over 80,000 disabled voters, including visually challenged and hearing impaired. - IANS