Achham prisoners eager to cast ballot but only a few are registered votersThere are a total of 82 inmates in the Mangalsen-based district prison, but only seven are in the voter roll.
A few among the inmates at Achham District Prison are all set to cast votes during the federal and provincial elections scheduled for November 20.
The election authorities, pursuant to the Supreme Court’s verdict, are making necessary arrangements so that the inmates could exercise their franchise.
There are a total of 82 inmates in the prison but only seven—one woman and six men—are registered to vote in the upcoming elections. The rest of the inmates feel cheated of their right to vote and are critical of the election and government authorities for not giving them the opportunity to register their names in the electoral roll.
“I will be deprived of my voting right despite the court’s order to allow us to vote in the elections,” said Mana Bahadur BK, who has been serving his term for the past 12 years. “The authorities concerned did not allow us to register our names in the voter roll.”
Four among the Mangalsen-based district prison are women.
In July, the Supreme Court had issued an order to the government to make arrangements for government employees, security personnel and prisoners so that they can vote during the upcoming polls. A temporary polling booth will be set up on the premises of the district prison for the first time to give an opportunity for the prisoners to cast their vote.
The inmates who are registered in the voter roll prepared by the Election Commission are enthusiastic to exercise their voting rights.
“I now feel that we are not only the prisoners but also the citizens in the eyes of the government. The election fever grips the prison as well after the inmates are allowed to vote,” said another prisoner Mohan Rawal. He, however, said that the inmates are largely unhappy with the existing political parties.
As per the Electoral Roll Act 2073 BS, the election commission may prepare a temporary voter list that includes employees working at the local level of the Nepal government, provincial governments, Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force, detainees and prisoners, election staff and security personnel and people in old age homes so that they cast their votes for the House of Representatives under the proportional representation system.
The inmates have complained that the election authority and the government are indifferent to the rights of inmates. They blamed the authorities concerned for not doing enough to ensure their rights.
Gajendra Tharu, information officer at the District Election Office, claimed that election officials did not have time to collect the names of new voters as the date of the election had been declared before the Supreme Court’s order to allow prisoners to cast votes.