Independent India’s first voter passes away in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla: Shyam Saran Negi, 106, the first voter of independent India who cast his 34th vote for the forthcoming Assembly polls three days ago, passed away at his native place Kalpa in Himachal Pradesh on Saturday, his family said.

He will be cremated with full state honours, says Deputy Commissioner Abid Hussain Sadiq.

Negi cast his vote on Wednesday in the Kinnaur Assembly constituency.

As per official record, he had also participated in the 1951-52 general elections, the country’s first.

“I have never missed an opportunity to cast my vote since India got its independence in 1947 and I am happy to vote this time too,” Negi had said in Kalpa, some 275 km from the state capital, after exercising his franchise.

Last year also, he cast his vote for the Mandi parliamentary bypolls.

Election officials said on earlier occasions Negi went to the nearest polling station to cast the vote.

He flashed his wrinkled inked finger after voting.

Like on previous occasions, the centenarian had requested the young voters to actively participate in the democratic exercise to get their representatives at the helm.

A staunch believer in democracy, the centenarian never fails to cast his vote in any election, be it Lok Sabha, Assembly or panchayat.

In 1951, Negi, a retired school teacher, was on election duty and had exercised his franchise in Chini constituency, later renamed Kinnaur.

Back then, voting in the snow-bound areas of the mountain state was held ahead of other places in the country.

Negi, who hails from the tribal district of Kinnaur, exercised his right to franchise for the 34th time for the 14th Vidhan Sabha Elections through postal ballot at his home.

He cast his vote through a postal ballot for the first time.

Born in July 1917, Negi voted for 16 times in Lok Sabha elections. He is also a state election icon since 2014.

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