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Probe into alleged deletion of 20,000 Christians from electoral roll in India

Country/Region: India, South and East Asia

Reports that the names of 20,000 Christians have been deleted from the electoral roll in an Indian state are being investigated amid concerns that the community is being deliberately disenfranchised.

An inter-denominational Christian forum in Madhya Pradesh, Isai Mahasangh, has formed a committee to examine the matter, the extent of which came to light during elections for its own district-level body in Jabalpur.

Mahasangh president, Sujit William, said:

When we checked the voters list many Christians who already got enrolled in the list were shocked to find their names missing from it.

Vidhan_Sabha_4X3.jpg
The Vidhan Sabha is the seat of Madhya Pradesh's Legislative Assembly
Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

He said that subsequent enquiries revealed similar irregularities in other places. Initial reports suggest that the names of 20,000 Christians have been deleted from the electoral roll in a number of places, including the state capital, Bhopal.

The Mahasangh has now written to each of its units in the 50 districts of Madhya Pradesh asking them to check if all Christians are on the electoral roll, and to send them a detailed report within 20 days if names are missing. Once they have a complete picture, they will refer the matter to the relevant authorities.

General Secretary, Jerry Paul, said that they think there is a pattern and alleged that it was a conspiracy by the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which is notoriously anti-Christian.

The Mahasangh’s concerns are supported by the state’s main opposition party, the Indian National Congress, which has accused the state government of playing dirty politics to disenfranchise Christians.

Vishwanath Dubey, former mayor and Congress state vice president, has written to his party’s state president, Kantial Bhuria, about the matter and has pledged to help Christians re-register.

Electoral rolls in Madhya Pradesh are being revised and updated ahead of state Assembly elections at the end of 2013.

Chief Electoral officer Jaideep Govind said that if the Mahasangh approaches his office, “we will definitely look into their complaints and make corrections if needed.”

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