Dead on paper, a Natore man goes to a polling booth only to be turned away – not once, but twice

It was all too familiar for Dipendranath Saha. The Natore resident was unable to vote in this year’s union council election as the voter list counted him as 'dead'. It had been six years since he had noted the mistake and asked for it to be fixed.

Dipendranath, 52, is a senior assistant teacher at Lalpur Sree Sundari Pilot High School. The local upazila election officer 'doesn't know' why he has been listed as 'dead'.

Lalpur was one of the 1,000 unions that went to the polls on Sunday to pick their local councillors.

Dipendranath went to cast his vote at the Lalpur Degree College polling centre.

While leaving the polling centre Dipandranath said he had voted many times in his life. As a teacher, he had also worked as an election officer. But for a strange reason, he has had to face this issue twice now.

Dipendranath said he came to know that he was listed as a dead person while voting in the 2015 union council polls. He was shocked.

He then went to the Lalpur Upazila election office and made a written request to amend his national identity card and voter list accordingly. 

The Election Commission was unable to explain the mistake.

Dipendranath was finally 'brought back from the dead' in 2018 after three years of bureaucratic runaround at the election office. He was also able to correct the national identity card.

He was assured that the voter list would be amended by the election office and he would be able to vote.

"I went to the Lalpur Upazila election office three months ago. Hasib bin Sahab, the upazila election officer told me, 'Don't worry. You can vote'," said Dipendranath.

Relying on the words of the official, the teacher went to the Lalpur Degree College centre on Sunday to cast his ballot.

"But after going there, the on-duty election officer told me that I was shown dead on the voter list and I couldn’t be allowed to vote," he added.

Standing at the vote centre, he called Upazila Election Officer Hasib bin Sahab and wanted to know why his information in the voter list had not been corrected.

There was no proper answer.

The teacher said that six years ago when the Election Commission declared him 'dead' on paper, he had to go through various difficulties in order to get his salary and passport.

"After three years of wandering, the national identity card has been corrected on the Election Commission's server. But the voter list still shows me as 'dead'. How long will I stay dead?,” he exclaimed.

Asked about this, Lalpur Upazila Election Officer Hasib bin Sahab said the man’s NID had been revised on the server and he did not “understand” why the voter list was not amended. He updated the voter list himself, Hasib said.

Asked who was responsible for the situation, he said: "After the election, I will try to find the cause. I promise that this time I will fix the voter list and I’ll do it soon.”