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In a first, people of Andaman’s vulnerable Shompen tribe vote

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PORT BLAIR, April 19: For the first time in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, seven members of the Shompen tribe, a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTGs) of Great Nicobar Islands on Friday exercised their voting rights for the lone Lok Sabha seat in the union territory, an official said.
Not only Shompen tribe members exercised their voting rights at polling station 411 named as ‘Shompen Hut’ built inside the forest staff quarters but also they posed for selfies at a designated cut-out made by the Election Commission of India, which reads – “I vote for sure”.
The Shompen tribes were assisted in their language by an interpreter known as ‘Mathiyas’ (a Nicobari tribal youth).
Speaking to PTI, Chief Electoral Officer, B S Jaglan said, “This is for the first time a total of seven members of Shompen tribe exercised their voting rights. Earlier, we have given them training about EVMs and VVPATs through a trainer. It’s good to see that they came out of the jungle and voted for the first time.”
As per the 2011 census the population of the Shompen was 229.
“Other two primitive tribes like Onge and Great Andamanese too exercised their voting rights like in 2019 Lok Sabha election but seven Shompen did it for the first time out of 98 Shompen voters,” the CEO said.
An election official said nearly 91 per cent of voting happened at Dugong Creek (little Andaman tehsil of South Andaman district) where Onge primate tribes live exclusively (it is a reserved forest area). “Out of 68 Onge, 62 of them voted including 35 male and 27 female,” Returning Officer, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arjun Sharma said.
Similarly, 100 per cent voting happened at Strait Island which is an exclusively restricted area for the Great Andamanese tribe. “Out of 39 Great Andamanese, all 39 Great Andamanese exercised their voting rights,” Sharma said.
The total number of voters in the Union Territory (UT) is 3,15148, which includes 1,64,012 male, 1,51,132 female and four voters in the third gender category. The voters include 39 Great Andamanese tribes of Strait Islands, 68 Onge tribes at Hut Bay and 98 Shompen tribes of Great Nicobar Island.
A total of 12 candidates, including two women and five independents will contest for the lone Lok Sabha seat in 412 polling stations. However, the contest is between the Congress candidate and sitting MP Kuldeep Rai Sharma and the BJP nominee Bishnu Pada Ray. (PTI)

 

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