Present case in Maharashtra where voter's name were deleted is not as genuine as it is being made out to be. This shows mistrust on citizens and totally absolves the district election officer or election registrations officers who have acted irresponsibly. This should call for citizen outrage through use of RTI
It’s distressing that the unprecedented mass deletions in the voters’ lists of Mumbai and Pune have had no bearing on the alleged accused – that is, Election Registration Officers (EROs), District Election Officers or the Election Observers of Mumbai and Pune, in terms of accountability or instituting of an investigation or inquiry against any of them, into this alleged scandal, systems failure and mal-administration.
Instead, the onus has been put on the 'victim', in this case the voter whose name has been deleted, although in many cases, the name may have been deleted without the EROs following necessary legal norms or the deletion process. While the Bombay High Court placed the onus on citizens to get themselves again on the voters’ list if their names have been deleted and former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Dr SY Quarishi, speaking at Moneylife Foundation, made a generalised statement that 'deletion is a part of the cleaning process' without addressing the present case.
It is a blow to democracy wherein the 'victim' now has to gulp down the humiliation of being ousted from the electoral process, in many cases, for no fault of his/ her and once again go and register as a voter by filling Form 6. The only crumbs thrown at the 'victim' by the High Court is that his or her name would be entered into the voters’ list in 30 days time, after he or she registers once again. The question is, should we be thankful to this 'considerate time period'? Yes, but with a rider!
Before that, let us read extracts from the Bombay HC Order and Dr SY Quraishi’s lecture:
Excerpts from Bombay HC order of May 12, 2014:
“(C) The statement made by the learned Advocate General that the revision of electoral rolls for Pune and Mumbai Constituencies shall be undertaken at the earliest and in pursuance thereof individual applications in the prescribed forms for inclusion in the electoral rolls shall be considered and disposed of in accordance with law, preferably within 30 days from the date of their receipt, is accepted. The concerned Respondents shall publish notices / advertisements in the newspapers indicated in paragraph 56 of this order, so that there is adequate publicity with regard to such revision of electoral rolls. This shall be in addition to other usual modes of publication of notice. It is made clear that such revision shall have no nexus with the on going Lok Sabha Elections 2014.”
Excerpt from Dr SY Quraishi’s talk at Moneylife Foundation on May 9, 2012: “Everywhere we are hearing the word 'deletion'. Is it a bad word? I don't think so. If people are dead, shouldn't we delete their names? If they have shifted somewhere should we not delete them? If they have been registered at two places, should we not delete their names?
Deletion is a part of cleaning the electoral rolls, and very important because, if out of the 60 lakh voters, about 59 lakh are bogus, then it deserved to be deleted. There is potential of misusing bogus voters there. You are new to politics, but all the political parties know who dead people in these electoral rolls are and again, they have fake voters ready.
``In Uttar Pradesh, when we did elections in 2008, we found 53 lakh dead voters. They were all potential bogus voters, so we deleted them. There were 83,000 voters, who had shifted residences, but we could not delete them because they may choose to come back. Then we have two categories, families shifted with bag and baggage with no contact left and some members moving out leaving other members still at the address.
So we created a separate list, and instructed the presiding officer that if anybody comes from these separate 'missing' list, then he must scrutinize the voter very carefully. And, you will be surprised to know that only 1.5% people from this separate 'missing' list actually came for voting.
At that time, the EC deleted 1.32 crore voters as routine cleaning process. The concerned chief minister at that time, said he lost the elections not to rivals but to Election Commission. This was because, we did not allow any bogus voters. The matter is in courts now.
According to my impression, only 0.5% from the total were not genuine deletion and 99.5% was genuine deletions. Therefore, deletion is a part of cleaning process.”
Is Maharashtra the same story as Uttar Pradesh? Can the former CEC make a sweeping statement? Should a voter, who had voted as recently as the Municipal Elections in 2012, be the 'accused' even if he has not checked his name this time, as he has not been served any notice at his door by the Election Office nor has he himself filled Form 8, requesting deletion?
Former Divisional Commissioner of Pune, Prabhakar Karandikar had written a letter to Chief Election Officer appealing for suo motu cancellation of ERO’s deletion orders and putting back all those names in the voters’ list.
He had stated: “From the newspapers, it appears that the officials of Election Commission of India (ECI) have suggested that all voters, whose names appear to have been deleted wrongfully / inadvertently, should apply to the concerned ERO for inclusion of in Form 6 under the provisions of Rule 13(a) of RER 1960.
However, I would like to submit that the following categories of cases deserve to be dealt with on a special footing:-
 Persons who have been regularly voting regularly in the past but suddenly find their names deleted this time round;
 Names of a few members of the family residing at the same address have been deleted, while keeping names of remaining members intact.
It would appear that these type of mistakes have taken place due to administrative lapses on the part of the EROs. It would be adding insult to injury to ask such voters to apply afresh for inclusion of their names in Form 6 or to ask them to file appeals under the provisions of Rule 23 of RER 1960.
I would like to suggest that all the written complaints regarding deletion of names received by DEOs / EROs may be deemed to be Appeals filed under the provisions of Rule 23 of the RER 1960 against the orders of deletion (of names) passed by the EROs and taken up for suo motu review by the EROs / DEOs, waiving the issue of limitation. This would create an impression in the minds of the offended voters as well in the minds of the general public that ECI is sympathetic towards redressal of their grievances.
However, arguments to defend the 'missing voter' in the list are finally turning out to be futile. So, what are the options left? Fill up Form 6 once again and get into the voters’ list. I can imagine how dejected one may feel about doing that if he or she is not in the wrong, but the citizen has been left with no option.
However, along with doing whatever it takes to get yourself in the voters’ list, the writer urges every applicant to use Right to Information (RTI) to investigate into why and how your name was deleted from the list, although you had voted in 2012, checked your names, never submitted Form 8 requesting your name deletion or you were not served notice by the ERO for deletion.
Alternatively, the citizen can write the following complaint letter to the District Election Officer/ State Election Commissioner, Maharashtra
Please treat this as an official complaint from a voter who was denied her right to vote in Pune on the 17th of April. Please let me know the reason why my name was deleted from the voters’ list with documentary evidence. Please let me know what action you have taken against the officers/staff who have wrongly deleted my name. Please ensure my name is put back in the voters’ list and send me the details.
Voting card no: (if you have otherwise ignore)
Voting booth: (if you know)
Reason for Complaint:
It is not possible for each one of us to steer or take part in large scale citizen campaigns to fight this injustice. Hence, if each of the affected person seeks explanation from the Election office, it would help build up citizen pressure on the authorities. So, come on, do not take injustice lying down. Use RTI and give us the feedback.
Application for filing application for file inspection under Section 4 of RTI Act
The District Election Officer
Old Zilla Parishad
Sub: Inspection of files under Section 4 of the RTI Act of documents pertaining to deletion of my name/names in the current voters’ list
My name is …………………..
My name was registered in the ……………………….
Despite this, I was unable to vote on 17 April 2014 as my name was deleted.
Under Section 4 of the RTI Act, I wish to inspect and get a copy of the following
1. Page of the voter roll list which had my name/names earlier and page of the voter roll list in which my name has been deleted
2. Copy of the notice sent to me before deletion of my name/names
3. Copy of the hearing sent to me as a result of the notice
4. Copy of the public notice issued in the newspaper announcing my name/ names for deletion
5. All correspondence related to the procedure that led to the deletion of my name
Please note that all the above documents come under Section 4 of the RTI Act and hence should have been put up suo motu by you on the website. As it has not been done, I would like you to give them to me now.
ANNEXURE-A (see rule 3)
Application for obtaining information under the Right to Information Act, 2005
The Public Information Officer,
a Court Fee Stamp
of Rs. 10/- here.
1.Full Name of the Applicant:
3.Particulars of the information Required:
Documents relating to my deletion of my name/names from the current voters’ list
2009 to 2014
4. Whether the Applicant is below the poverty line:
Signature of the Applicant
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
Has non-fatal gun violence increased or decreased over the past 10 years in the US? No one really knows
How many Americans have been shot over the past 10 years? No one really knows. We don't even know if the number of people shot annually has gone up or down over that time.
The government's own numbers seem to conflict. One source of data on shooting victims suggests that gun-related violence has been declining for years, while another government estimate actually shows an increase in the number of people who have been shot. Each estimate is based on limited, incomplete data. Not even the FBI tracks the total number of nonfatal gunshot wounds.
"We know how many people die, but not how many are injured and survive," said Dr. Demetrios Demetriades, a Los Angeles trauma surgeon who has been studying nationwide gunshot injury trends.
While the number of gun murders has decreased in recent years, there's debate over whether this reflects a drop in the total number of shootings, or an improvement in how many lives emergency room doctors can save.
Doctors and researchers have been advocating for better gun injury data since the late 1980s. But fierce political battles over gun violence research — including pressure from congressional Republicans that put an end to some government-funded studies on firearms — has meant that we still don't know many basic facts about gun violence in America.
"In the absence of real data, politicians and policymakers do what the hell they want," Dr. David Livingston, the director of the New Jersey Trauma Center at University Hospital in Newark. said "They do what the hell they want anyway," he added, "but in the absence of data, they have nobody to call them on it."
An initial push to create a national database of firearm injuries in the late 1980s and early 1990s was slowed by the political fight over Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding for gun research, according to a history of the project written by researchers who worked on it. To make the effort more politically viable, as well as more scientifically rigorous, researchers decided to collect data on all violent deaths, not just firearm deaths.
And to cut costs, they decided to focus only on fatal injuries. Even that more limited effort has languished without full congressional funding — the database currently covers fewer than half of all states.
Most discussions of crime trends in America look back 20 years, to 1993, when violent crime of all kinds hit its peak. Compare 1993 to today, and the picture looks bright: The number of murders is down nearly 50 percent, and other kinds of violent crime have dropped even further.
The Department of Justice has estimates of nonfatal shootings that suggest a similar trend: Its National Crime Victimization Survey shows a decline, from an average of about 22,000 nonfatal shootings in 2002, to roughly 12,000 a year from 2007 to 2011, according to a Department of Justice statistician.
But over the same time period, CDC estimates show that the number of Americans coming to hospitals with nonfatal, violent gun injuries has actually gone up: from an estimated 37,321 nonfatal gunshot injuries in 2002 to 55,544 in 2011.
The contrast between the two estimates is hard to clear up, since each data source has serious limitations.
Experts say that household data-gathering efforts, like the National Crime Victimization Survey, likely miss the Americans who are most likely to be victims of gun violence.
Shooting victims are "disproportionately young men of color who are living unstable lives and often involved in underground markets or criminal activity, and this is a group that is incredibly difficult to survey," said Philip Cook, a gun violence expert at Duke University. "A lot of them are in jail at any point in time, or if they're not in jail, they have no stable address."
Meanwhile, the CDC numbers are based on a representative sample of 63 hospitals nationwide, and the margin of error for each estimate is very large. The CDC's best guess for the number of nonfatal intentional shootings in 2012 is somewhere between 27,000 and 91,000.
"Uncertainty in the estimates precludes definitive conclusions," one group of medical researchers explained in a back-and-forth in a journal on internal medicine last year.
The FBI also gathers data on gun crime from local police departments, but most departments do not track the number of people who are shot and survive. Instead, shootings are counted as part of the broader category of "aggravated assault,"
which includes a range of gun-related crimes, from waving a gun at threateningly to actually shooting someone.
There were about 140,000 firearm aggravated assaults nationwide in 2012, according to the FBI's report. How many of those assaults represent someone actually getting shot? There's no way to tell.
The lack of a clear number of nonfatal shootings has caused confusion.
A frequently cited 2012 Wall Street Journal article attributed the falling murder rate to advances in trauma care: "In Medical Triumph, Homicides Fall Despite Soaring Gun Violence." The article based its conclusion — that "America has become no less violent" over the past two decades — on the CDC's shooting estimates.
The article did not cite the other estimates of gun violence that show shootings trending down, or the level of uncertainty in the CDC's own data.
Livingston, the Newark trauma surgeon, said that it's "very nice" when journalists give trauma surgeons credit for saving more lives. "I think that improvements in trauma care clearly have made a great difference," he said. "On the other hand, if you don't know the extent of all of the patients, and all of the data, you can make some erroneous conclusions."
At University Hospital, which treats the vast majority of shooting victims from Newark and surrounding towns, Livingston and other doctors decided to do their own research.
"It's easy to count dead people. But counting people who are merely injured? The data was all over the place, and, frankly, terrible," Livingston said.
In a paper published early this year, they looked back at their own hospital's records and logged every gunshot wound patient from 2000 to 2011.
What they found was that the number of patients injured by guns had actually held roughly steady over the past decade. But the injuries were getting worse. The percentage of patients who came in with multiple bullet wounds had increased from only 10 percent in 2001 to 23 percent in 2011. The incidence of brain and spinal cord injuries almost doubled.
And though trauma care has advanced over the past decade, the mortality rate for gunshot wound patients in Newark had actually increased, from 9 percent to 14 percent.
With more severe gunshot injuries came increased costs. The researchers estimated the total cost over 10 years for their hospital was at least $115 million — and three quarters of that was unreimbursed, which meant that taxpayers ultimately paid the bills.
In total, the hospital had treated an average of 527 patients with intentional violent gunshot injuries each year: "unrelenting violence," as the researchers termed it.
Are the trends that the Newark researchers observed an anomaly? Or are gunshot wound injuries across the county becoming more severe, as they have at this one hospital? The Newark researchers looked for national data and could not find it.
After the American Bar Association and medical and public health groups collaborated on an extensive campaign — with the message, "what we don't know is killing us" — Congress did approve funds to begin building a National Violent Death Reporting System in 2002. The push was inspired by a successful effort to track highway vehicle accidents, which experts say has helped reduce the number of deaths from car crashes.
But until last year, the system had only received enough congressional funding to collect detailed data on deaths in 18 states. Then after the Sandy Hook shootings, Congress approved an additional nearly $8 million for database, though that still isn't enough to detail violent deaths in all 50 states.
President Obama has asked for enough funding next year — $23.5 million — to allow the CDC to finally begin to collect violent death data nationwide.
As for tracking the number of Americans who are violently injured and survive, CDC spokeswoman Courtney Lenard, said simply, that "is something that may be considered in the future."
Funding a CDC effort to track nonfatal violence is not the only path to getting a better answer. Livingston and Demetriades, the Los Angeles trauma surgeon, suggested that independent medical associations could also help collect national nonfatal gun injury data, supported by government funding, and perhaps by legislation. In order to get a clear picture of gun violence, injury data from hospitals should be combined with local law enforcement data about crimes, they said.
Another solution might be better FBI data. "In my opinion, the FBI's UniformCrime Reports system should be changed so that it tracks nonfatal gunshot woundings in criminal assaults," said Daniel Webster, a gun violence researcher at Johns Hopkins University.
"If the FBI could get local agencies to include nonfatal criminal shootings into its UCR system, you have the capacity to track information that hospitals couldn't — distinguishing domestic shootings, from gang shootings, from robbery shootings."
An FBI spokesman said that changes in data collection practices could be made through congressional mandate or through the Criminal Justice Information Services Division Advisory Process, which would require buy-in from an advisory board of local, state and national law enforcement representatives.
In the past, changes to UCR data collection methods have been rare, the spokesman said. But several changes have been made in recent years, including changing the definition of rape, and changing how data about hate crimes is collected.
Cook, the Duke University researcher, said that the first step should be to find out why CDC data shows a different trend than other measures, and clarifying whether the ways hospitals collect data — or changes in the willingness of patients with minor gunshot wounds to come to the hospital for treatment — might explain the disparity.
"We have a variety of other evidence that gun violence is going down," Cook said. "By Occam's razor, I'd have to believe that the simplest explanation is that the nonfatal woundings are going down, too."
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