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Mobile phones create hurdles in voting

Ehtasham Khan in New Delhi | December 01, 2003 23:13 IST

Delhi's Nazim Beg went to cast his vote early morning on Monday.

But till late afternoon he was wandering around the polling booth looking for his mobile phone.

"I gave my phone to a policeman. His name is Himmat Singh. I am looking for him for the last three hours," a haggard looking Beg said. "I don't know where he has disappeared."

Beg was not the only one with problems. Even policemen had to face a lot of problems due to mobile phones.

Mobile phones, pagers and matchbox are not allowed inside polling booths. According to officials miscreants could use mobile phones and pagers to carry out a blast inside the booths.

The policemen posted at the entry points were checking all voters and asking them to leave their electronic gadgets.

Beg, a government employee and voter at Jamia Milia Islamia premises, requested the police van near the booth to make an announcement and inform voters not to carry cell phones with them.

But the policeman replied, "This is not my job. Voters should know this. Candidates should have informed them."

Beg continued his search for the policeman to whom he had given his phone. Finally one of his colleagues informed him that Himmat Singh would come soon.

Ajayab Singh, a constable at the Malviya Nagar polling booth, said, "We are requesting people not to carry the phones inside. Many start fighting with us. We have to convince everybody. So many people are coming with cell phones that we are fed up."

The policemen said they could not keep the cell phones of every voter coming in. Also there were chances of getting the phones misplaced, they added.

Since many voters had come in groups, one would wait at the entrance with the cell phones while went inside and voted.

But there were many who were alone. Like Manish Kumar, a post-graduate student of Delhi University.  "Policemen are refusing to take my phone. And I cannot give it to any stranger," he said.

"There is no logic in this. If someone has to create problem, he can do even without cell phones. There was no proper communication to inform voters about it. The Election Commission should have released advertisements," he added.

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