Sunil Karmakar
Sunil Karmakar

In a bizarre incident, a resident of Farakka in Murshidabad district received an updated copy of his voter ID card with an image of a dog instead of his picture. Do note that these very same officials are the ones that will be in charge of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).

Sunil Karmakar, who applied for a new voter ID card, says he wanted to update details of his correct date of birth in the wake of the CAA, NRC and NPR.

“I collected my voter ID card and found an image of a dog. Did the officer concerned not see these details? They have played with my respect,” he said.

Karmakar will now approach the Block Development Officer (BDO) about the matter. "I am unable to understand how this happened,” added Karmakar who also appeals to authorities that no such thing happens to anyone.

When media persons contacted the BDO, Rajyasree Chakraborty who had already heard about Karmakar’s case, said there is a confusion while explaining that the voter Id application process was done in two stages. “There was an electoral verification programme from October-December 2019 where voters applied online at the disposal block office where the mistake could have taken place. This is not the final voter card. If there is any mistake, it should have been checked in January or February 2020. They will get the final voter card in March or April. They need not worry,” said Chakraborty, adding that the final card will have a picture of Karmakar.

Errors in government issued cards aren’t uncommon and while a picture of a dog may be a one-off case, there is enough data to show that issuing government cards isn’t a fool proof process.

The Indian state is notorious for its bungling incompetency: documents are hard to come by (this part needs to be rephrased) and even those who have documents are riddled with errors.

According to a study by IDinsight, the Aadhaar’s error rate is 8.8%. This means that almost 9 people out of 100 have an error in their Aadhaar Cards, whether it’s their address or father’s name or other data. The voter ID error rate, meanwhile, is around 5.7%, which means almost 6 people out of 100 have a mistake on their voter IDs.

If we assume the 8.8% error rate, it will mean roughly 12 crore, or 120 million, Indians would be left out.

Even if we assume just a 1% error rate -- which, knowing how Indian agencies operate, is highly unlikely -- that still amounts to 1.3 crore or 13 million Indians being left out.

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