R Lester Makang
UKHRUL, October 27: Is it a case of taking advantage of the growing demand of the voter`s ID card, or the gullibility of the public with intent to earn extra money? A random visit to the Ukhrul election office any day during working hours invariably confirms that among the people who throng the place many are applying for their lost or surrendered EPIC Cards on account of wrong entries.
Every Indian adult citizen needs this simple monochrome card as identity or address proof for various purposes like opening bank accounts or applying for new ration cards apart from proving their eligibility to exercise his or her franchise during every election time. And this need is growing more than ever.
Apparently, out of sheer need many people who have either lost or surrendered their voters ID Cards for correction of particulars, flock to the office to enquire /apply for new or corrected ones. It, however, turned out that certain staff of the office are allegedly indulging in fraud by charging extra money from many gullible applicants for processing issuance of new EPIC Cards.
A woman on condition of anonymity said that she came to apply for her new voters ID card on learning from others that she could get her new card within few days if she paid Rs. 200 for it.
“I don`t know whether this is right but I hear that many other people are doing the same,” she confided.
On the other hand, when this Imphal Free Press correspondent met the election officer AS Innocence on the matter, he informed that the actual fee for processing a new EPIC Card is only Rs. 30 for which there is official transaction record.
“Applicants should pay only Rs. 30 along with their passport photos to concerned officials which is the correct procedure, ” he said while conceding that certain staff are allegedly collecting Rs. 200 each from the applicants with a promise to issue new cards within few days.
He then appealed to all not to pay such extra amount to any staff just to get hold of a new card at the soonest while adding that this was misleading.
He however lamented that since last year he has despatched from his side hundreds of new EPIC applications from the district on batch wise basis on payment of Rs. 30 but so far only a small number of new cards have been issued till 13 October 2014.