Woman official to verify Kerala nikab wearing voters

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena on Saturday said a woman poll official would verify women voters, coming to polling booths with faces covered.

Seven booths in Kasargode and Kannur Lok Sabha constituencies will undergo re-poll on Sunday. Kerala voted on April 23 for all 20 parliamentary seats.

A war of words broke out earlier between the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Congress on the issue.

While Kannur CPI-M District Secretary M.V. Jayarajan raised concerns about women covering their face while coming to vote, CPI-M state Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the polling agent had to identify a voter, hence it was not right to use ‘nikab’ — a piece of cloth worn by some Muslim women to cover the face except eyes — during voting.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala reacted by saying it’s shame for the CPI-M to have come out with this theory that a Muslim woman voter should not wear ‘nikab’.

“What one wears is one’s choice and the CPI-M has lost its bearings in making such comments. They have realised the poll outcome would be a setback for them. They should withdraw this and apologise for such remark,” the Congress leader said.