Many Tibetans will not be able to vote in Delhi

Some Tibetans said they did not want to vote as an Indian voter card will 'raise question about their identity'

An Indian waves the national flag in New Delhi

An Indian waves the national flag in New Delhi on 23 March 2014. India, the world's biggest democracy, announced the start of national elections on 7 April that are expected to bring Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi to power on a platform of economic revival. File photo/AFP/Getty Images/Sajjad Hussain


NEW DELHI, India, 9 April 2014

As the national capital votes tomorrow, a large section of Tibetans here say they will not be able to exercise their franchise despite a court ordering inclusion of their names in electoral roll because Delhi Election Commission could not verify their documents.

Many residents at Majnu Ka Tilla, one of the largest Tibetan settlements in Chandni Chowk constituency, said they did not get the Voter I-card though there was a verdict by the Karnataka High Court last year which had said that children of Tibetan refugees born in India between 1950 to 1987 cannot be denied enrollment in voters’ list.

In principle, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is against giving voting rights to all refugees living in India as they are not Indian citizens.

Sources said MHA is against giving voting rights to Tibetans. As per estimate over one lakh Tibetan refugees are residing in India.

“We already consider ourselves as a part of India. Many people wanted to vote in the election. But they did not get the voter I-card,” said Karten Tsering, head of the Tibetan Residents’ Welfare Association.

When contacted, Delhi Election Commission officials refused to give details about the Tibetan voters and other details.

However, some residents, who were granted Indian citizenship, said their names have been enrolled in the voters’ list and are eager to vote.

“I have a voter ID since I was 18 and now I am 33. My mother is actually from Himachal Pradesh and my dad is a Tibetan. I had applied for citizenship and it was granted. So I got the voter ID easily,” Lobsang Dorji, owner of ‘Dolma House,’ a popular eating joint at Majnu Ka Tilla.

Some Tibetans said they did not want to vote as an Indian voter card will “raise question about their identity”.

“If you apply for voter ID, you lose your Tibetan identity because question of citizenship might come in. But some think that a voter ID will help them get those rights that Indians have. So it depends on individual,” said Kalsang Choedon, a student from Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU).

“Voter ID for me is a message to say that we are now a permanent citizen of India. I think, for political parties, we are just a vote bank but for us it is about our identity,” Chemi Choezom, a Delhi University student.

Tenzin Tashi, owner of Passang Travel said that he did not apply for the voter ID as he felt more close towards the Tibetan government.

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