Scuffle and charges of rigging mar Parsi elections

The Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) elections got off to a tumultuous start on Saturday with scuffles and allegations of electoral malpractic

The first round took place at Kharegat Colony on Hughes Road. Out of approximately 22,000 registered voters, close to 2,500 showed up. Many of them got restive standing for hours in serpentine queues and blamed organisers for slowing the voting process. Jehangir Gai, a columnist who writes on consumer issues, stood for over two hours to cast his vote.

Having to stand for long was a minor complaint compared to what happened to the 25-year-old daughter of Firoza Punthakey Mistree and religious scholar Khojeste Mistree in the afternoon. Firoza Mistree says that when she stood on a chair to film an altercation taking place between members of two rival groups, Zarir Jehangirji, a member of the group Adult Franchise for Progress and one of those involved in the fight, roughly pulled her off the chair. “He could have said, `Please get down,’ ” says Mistree. “My daughter was screaming, `Let me go’. She’s now hurt her back and we’ve sent her to the hospital for an x-ray.”

Mistree called the chairman of the BPP, Minoo Mistry, to complain about the incident and got an unexpected response. “He said you should have had your own security,” she says. “Have we come to this goondaraj? I’m shocked beyond belief. We Parsis have a wonderful reputation of gentlemanliness. These people have shown none.” The Mistrees filed a complaint at the Gamdevi police station.

The other event that had voters up in arms involved BPP officials issuing ballots already marked in favour of AFP candidates to a few senior citizens who had trouble with their eyesight. Suspecting that the AFP was attempting to take advantage of their infirmity, Gai says, many voters demanded that the elections be stopped and fresh ones held. Dinshaw Mehta, an independent candidate and former trustee, says that four such ballots were confiscated. “We don’t know how many more were there,” he says. However social activist Mehernosh Fitter points out that it was a genuine mistake on the part of the election officer in charge, who found it difficult to focus on the elections with such a large, edgy crowd. It didn’t help matters when members of a group watching the elections “were jealous that people were not voting for them and started shouting”. He adds: “A man will get nervous. I felt pity for this man. I went and helped him out.”

The BPP elections will be held during three weekends at centres in Byculla, Fort and Andheri. Seven trustees will be elected from a group of 32 candidates. While most of the candidates are independents, some are allied to two major groups, Adult Franchise for Progress and World Alliance for Parsi Irani Zarthostis. This is the first time voting is open to all Parsis above the age of 18 and the run-up to the election has been fraught with politicking and instances of candidates spending large amounts of money to woo voters.

Social activist Firoz Kotwal has even filed a public interest litigation in September against the BPP when he found that several names of people in the list of registered voters had been duplicated. However, some Parsis say that the vulgar turn the elections have taken should not stop them from voting.

  • rustom

    Sad state..once zoroastrians contesting in games and elections were people who had magnanimity to loose!But then those were people whose concern was’ FOR Preserving Zoroastrianism and thus passing it on..! This has changed to champions of change who think arbitary change is arbitaraly good! Their concern to ‘CHANGE zoroastrianism sees us thru this!!
    And change for what..personal tastes

    A 19 year old zoroastrian friend wants to send this messsage..let the AFP panel take the dokhma grounds, let them take the agiary lands..let them take all…atleast they wont stoop down to maligning something in tune with science EVEN TODAY…

    But then what will pseudo groups that want to END Zoroastrian systems to REVIVE IT??? and the intermarried(not all) and those who thinks traditions change with time( imagine the tradition of medecine..i.e medication to treat changing!??OR ARCHIMEDES, Newtons etc laws changing..same with the law governing decomposition)rebel against!
    They cant change islamic, catholic, Sindhi, Hindu laws!!..they might even feel morally wrong to do to those what they do to Zoroastrianism!!

    Yes sir, mark the ballot papers with AFP.Pull down people from chairs photographing such..After all the emininece of such as seen Zoroastrian principles being taken to court…the same eminence throws light on their end zoroastrian foundations to Revive Zoroastrianism!?!

  • phiroz

    A situation is intended to be created by those who expect to lose in the election, so that they can indulge in further litigation when results are announced thus keeping the community in turmoil and in the eyes of storm in the national press. Losers want their names to appear in English dailies.How else people will know about their “reputatation”

  • Some ungrateful individuals residing in Charity buildings and even running Office from residential premises do not have decency of thanking the trust concerned and instead malign the Trustee of that Trust, who is standing for BPP Election. I urge Nadir Modi as a Trustee of Wadia Atasbehram Trust to initiate eviction proceedings against the “Consumer Consultant” for change of user of residential premises rented out to his mother.

  • Jimmy

    THIS is the type of tactis that AFP uses.. Siloo Kapadia..if you are still reading this site.. THESE are the folks that you want to vote into power?

    One word comes to mind SCUM.

  • Arzoo Irani

    The chaos was simply created due to Elderly people breaking the que, which was justified as the elderly / handicapped are given priority at all times. What was not justified was that with each elderly voter, there were 5 fighting fit accomplises going to vote, on the pretext of being their escorts. Many of those termed elderly and many in wheelchairs were neither elderly nor handicapped, but had three to five escorts going in with them. This was really not justified as the que grew endless. Suggestions: 1) Elderly people must carry Senior Citizens Cards, without which they do not get subsidies even for government facilities. 2)Senior citizens / handicapped people should be escorted by neutral volunteers not family members – those not campaigning for anybody. I offer my services for this if I am needed to please call on me. This should be the standing rule.
    What happened was disgraceful as there was an 80 year old handicapped lady standing with me, who refused to break the que, though she was goaded to obviously by vested interests who probably would have dumped their already filled ballotin the box on her behalf. She sincerely stood from 11 am to 2 pm with me, and I was shocked cuz when we finally reached the guy who was checking the certificates and calling out the names, at least 10 people had simply just come in, argued their case, convinced the volunteer to let them pass, and cast their votes before this poor old lady. Only three of the ten were elderly, the rest were accompanying. All the candidates were right there. If I observed what was going on, why were the candidates exempting these people and letting them go in first, though they were fully aware of the seprentive que.
    Gosh, Parsee can come in two extreme – the righteous and the shameless!

  • Siloo Kapadia

    Frankly, I am not one bit surprised. After the vicious attacks on my comments on this web site, I have come to expect anything and everything from the so-called “community.” I am very ashamed and saddened by these events, but again, not surprised.

    We have too many bullies, especially the bawaji bullies. The actions by member of the AFP, if they are indeed true, also sadden me. Toba! Toba!

  • Ronnie Patel

    I am not at all suprised by the said elections of Bombay Parsi Panchyat,as i know that even here the the world stupid parsees are fighting among themselves for the sake of holding on to the Chairs of powers.
    It is the for the very resons i have lost all faith of being a parsee.
    I am now death sure that the countdown has began for the downfall of the parsees comunity.
    I am the most happiest person in the whole world as it is going to finish of the most stupid community in the world.
    May God gives the parsees more sense to fight among themselves & get finish off.
    I am the proudest person today as the so called stupid & more greediest parsees are going to get finished off on their own.

  • Minoo M. Patel

    Reading the various articles on the elections makes me think as to who are the real culprits in this never ending fiasco of the BPP elections.

    Minoo Shroff the chairman of the BPP should hold his head in shame. His was the final authority in ensuring that each and every aspect of the elections were worked out to the last detail.While he should have led from the front, as his usual self he only glorified his position by choosing to do a photo session for the front page of Parsiana.
    He has always been a fence sitter, a lame duck Chairman, compacent without having the voice, courage or dignity to stand for the rights and privelages of the electorate.

    Whoever gets elected to the position of the Chair should ensure that he does not follow in his footsteps, but lead by example.

    It is important therefore for the common Parsee gent or lady to vote by concience and not be cajoled into acting on the rhetoric of the contestants.

  • Ronnie Patel

    I am Really Happy that the so called Repected Community in the world is slowly starting to show its true clours.
    I was the first one within the Patel Family to have helped the so called poor Parsis(i.e. Richer)to get all the help from the Noble Mam Like Jimmy Guzder I used to even help many parsees getting the housing faciliies from None other than Mr. Jimmy Guzder but what i got in return all Abuses from the same community which i thought to be mine.
    Even then to i thought that they will improve as the time goes but instead of Any thanks form the vommunity i got all Abuses from them.
    Even my wife & my daughter was not spared i want to ask the so called highly educated Parsees what wrong have i done by marrying outside the community? Does any parsees have an answer to it. nobody will come forward to give the answer.
    I am realy happy that the “DOWNFALL OF THE PARSEE RELIGION HAVE STARTED” & Remember my words that the end s very Near for the Parsees.
    I would be the most happiest person if the downfall start Right now only.
    The parsee Pamchyat is to be blamed more,only if they stopped all the Housing Schemes then only our community Youngsters would try to Learn & study more & will learn how to get a house & stay with their Parents even after Marriages, I have seen many young couples getting Divorce for the girl or the boy does not want to stay with their In Laws, at least that will stop.
    I am really happy & i am giving all the Parsees a Good Message “FIGHT AMONG YOURSELVES & SLOWLY GET YOUR COMMUNITY MEMBERS DWINDLED” at that Rate i will be able to see the downfall of the Parsees.
    Even here outside India they are fighting among themselves, when will they learn that only God Knows.
    Ronnie Patel


    I’m looking at this election from Japan. And the Parsis look like they’ve lost their zoroastrian ideals. The electoral process looks similar to something underdeveloped, unruly, filled with the spirit to cheat and fight. Beyond this electoral formulation, perhaps the Parsis should look at their own beliefs and behavior? I don’t know for sure.

    Parsis have developed an ethnic version of zoroastrianism, which is something they should stick to. But beyond the argument of being ethnic or not, you should practice to be nice and good people. All this doesn’t sound nice and good.

    Time often degrades the quality of a religious community, and this may be the same tendency that brought zoroastrianism down from its royal status back in Iran. There is plenty to reflect.