DHARAMSALA, Dec 23: Almost eight months after Tibetans in India were allowed to participate in the general elections and exercise their right to vote, the Election Commission of India ordered the Delhi Chief Election Office to consider Tibetans eligible for enrollment in the voters’ list for the upcoming Delhi Assembly elections, likely to be held in mid-February.
“According to the order issued to Delhi’s Chief Electoral Office (CEO) by the Election Commission of India (ECI), dated December 8, children of Tibetan refugees born in India between the cut-off date of 1950 and 1987, are eligible for enrollment in Delhi,” a report on Dec 21 by PTI news agency quoted Deputy Chief Electoral Officer A K Srivastava as saying.
Despite reservations by the Ministry of Home Affairs against giving voting rights to refugees living in India, the Election Commission of India on the basis of ECI guidelines, which state that Tibetans born in India on or after January 26, 1950, but before July 1, 1987, have the right to exercise their franchise, issued the order.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs though, is in principle, against giving voting rights to all refugees living in India… But the Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) concerned should not deny enrollment to children of such Tibetan refugees, the PTI report cited the order as saying.
The guidelines came into force following an August 2013 Karnataka High Court order which paved the way for granting Indian citizenship to Tibetan refugees.
Although most of the Tibetans reside in Majnu ka Tilla, a Tibetan colony that falls under Chandni Chowk constituency, there is no census on the total number of Tibetans living in the Indian capital. The ECI hopes to ascertain the number through the enrolment process.
“There is no census on the number of such Tibetans in the capital. And, their exact number can only be ascertained once we begin the enrolment process.”