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Case Booked against Madhavi Latha for Asking Burqa-Clad Women to Lift Their Veils inside Polling Station

Case Booked against Madhavi Latha for Asking Burqa-Clad Women to Lift Their Veils inside Polling Station

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, May 13: The Hyderabad police on Monday registered a case against the BJP’s firebrand candidate for Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat K Madhavi Latha for allegedly trespassing into a polling station and asking some Muslim women voters to remove their burqa and reveal their identity.

Based on a direction from Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation commissioner, Ronald Rose, who is also the returning officer for Hyderabad LS constituency, the Malakpet police registered a case against Madhavi Latha under Sections 171C (voluntarily interfering in the exercise of electoral right), 186 (voluntarily obstructing a public servant from discharging of duties) and 505 (1)(c) (circulation of a statement with an intent to incite a class or community) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), besides Section 132 of the Representation of the People Act.

The case was registered within hours after a video went viral showing Ms Latha demanding burqa-clad voters to show their faces so that she can match them with the photographs on their voter ID cards.to establish their identity at a polling station in Malakpet.

Reacting to it, the district collector posted on X about the action taken against the MP contestant. “A case is registered in Malakpet Police Station against Smt Madhavi Latha, Contesting candidate, BJP under sections 171C, 186, 505(1)(c) of IPC and Section 132 of the Representation of the People Act,” he wrote.

In the video, Latha can be seen checking the voter ID cards of women belonging to the Muslim community by removing the burqa for verification. The BJP candidate visited a polling booth in Azampur in the constituency.

Ms Madhavi Latha is among the most-talked-about candidates in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha polls that is underway on Monday. She is up against a formidable candidate — four-time MP from Hyderabad and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi.

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Commissioner Ronald Ross, who is also the returning officer for Hyderabad LS constituency, said case had been registered against Ms Latha because no candidate has the right to lift someone’s veil to check her identity. If there is a suspicion, a candidate can ask the polling officer to verify a voter’s identity, he said. The responsibility lies with polling officials who are required to establish the identity of voters wearing veils.

The BJP candidate, however, claimed that a candidate has the right to check voter ID cards. “I am a candidate. As per law, a candidate has the right to check ID cards without facemasks. I am not a man, I am a woman and with a lot of humility, I requested them. If somebody wants to make a big issue out of it, it means they are scared,” she said.

The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) or Mr Owaisi did not react on the development, but shared the but shared the viral video on his Twitter timeline and the tweet of Hyderabad Collector stating that a criminal case was booked against Madhavi Latha.

The BJP candidate has alleged discrepancies in voters’ list. “The police personnel seem very dull, they are not active. They are not checking anything. Senior citizen voters are coming here, but their names have been deleted from the list,” she said.

The viral videos are playing out against the backdrop of a polarised contest in Hyderabad, a Muslim-dominated seat and a family stronghold of Asaduddin Owaisi. In the run-up to the election, Ms Madhavi Latha had said she was hopeful of the support of Muslim voters too because the BJP has spoken about triple talaq and jobs for Muslim youngsters. The viral videos and the row surrounding them are likely to hit her outreach to minority voters.

Madhavi Latha defended her decision and said there was nothing wrong in her move to ask some women voters to verify their identity. “I am a candidate, and every candidate has the right to verify the credentials of the voters who were wearing face masks or burqa,” she told reporters.

She said being a woman herself, she had all the respect for women. “I only requested them to disclose their identity. If anybody makes it a big issue, it is apparent that they are afraid of exposure of their malpractices,” she said.

Madhavi Latha alleged that there was bogus polling at several polling stations on a large scale. “Even the votes of people who had died in the last few years were also polled,” she said, adding she would lodge a complaint with the Election Commission of India against the irregularities in Azampura and Goshamahal.




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