TIRUCHY: The scorching sun in Tiruchy could not diminish the joy in the eyes of the 38 destitute persons, who made a beeline for the Guntur polling station on Tuesday with their voter’s IDs.
They could exercise their franchise for the first time, thanks to the efforts of an NGO and the District Differently Abled Welfare Department.
According to Ravichandran, District Differently Abled Welfare Officer, it is for the first time that the State and Anbalayam (NGO) teamed up to give voter IDs to 58 eligible destitute persons in the district.
They plan to enrol more such people in the future so that they can also exercise their right.
Speaking to Express, Arul (40) of Thiruvarur, who was rescued five years ago from the streets of Tiruchy, said, “All these years, I was left on the streets without an identity. This is the first ID card with my photo on it. From the moment that it arrived, I have been waiting to use it. It brings me joy to be a part of this society.”
Prabhakaran (30), who has a Master’s degree in Tamil Literature, said that being visually challenged, he found it hard to figure out who he was voting for as there were no Braille stickers on the EVM.
He expressed his joy after voting for the first time. Lenin Shah (55), a native of West Bengal, who was rescued a year ago, said, “I voted in the 2014 election in Bengaluru. After that, I was abandoned by my family and was left to wander from one place to another.”
Senthil Kumar, director of Anbalayam, said, “Of the 58 who received their identity cards recently, 38 cast their vote. Due to the lack of transport and poor health condition of some inmates, we could not bring all of them to the polling centre. The act of voting with other people plays a key role in their rehabilitation process after years of trauma that they have experienced.”
Meanwhile, in Chennai, as many as 308 persons from night shelters for the homeless, too, cast their vote on Tuesday.
According to official data with the Chennai Corporation, of the total 956 such people eligible to vote, 308 voted.
Among those who voted, 18 inmates had psycho-social needs and 18 more belonged to the LGBTQ community.
“Those who did not vote comprised people with votes in other districts, those with mental health issues and some who had lost their identity cards. We will ensure a better turnout in the next elections,” said a corporation official.
(With inputs from Chennai)