India's first voter Shyam Saran Negi passed away; to be cremated with full state honourtext_fields
Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh: Days after casting his final ballot in the state's 14th Assembly elections, the 106-year-old Shyam Saran Negi, who stood as independent India's first voter, passed away today in his hometown of Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh.
Mr Negi was the first voter in the independent nation when he cast his ballot on October 23, 1951, at the Kalpa polling place. On November 2, this year, he cast his 34th and final ballot, an accomplishment that Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised.
"This is commendable and should serve as an inspiration for the younger voters to take part in the elections and strengthen our democracy," PM Modi tweeted.
On November 2, the 106-year-old used a postal ballot to cast his vote.
Negi's death was mourned by Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, who said that it "will always be emotional" to remember the nation's first voter casting his final vote.
"Saddened to hear the news of the demise of Shyam Saran Negi Ji, the first voter of independent India and who belonged to Kinnaur. While performing his duty, he cast his postal vote for the assembly elections for the 34th time on November 2, this memory will always be emotional," Thakur tweeted.
"May God bless his virtuous soul at his feet and give strength to the bereaved family members," he added.
Mr Negi will be cremated with full state honour, according to Deputy Commissioner of Kinnaur Amandeep Garg.
Maneesh Garg, the chief electoral officer, offered his condolences for Negi's passing and claimed that he "motivated generations of voters to exercise their right to franchise for strengthening the democratic set up".
In a statement, Garg said, "Such was his commitment that he voted till the last breath of his life as he had cast his vote through postal ballot on 2nd November, at his home in Kalpa."
"Negi was a noble human being and I pray to the almighty to give peace to the departed soul and strength to the family members to bear the irreparable loss. He will be cremated with full state honours today," the statement said.
He was known as "Master Shyam" and cast his ballot in the first general elections held in India in January and February of 1952. In Himachal Pradesh, elections were held in the month of October 1951 while taking weather and snowfall into consideration. Since 1951, Negi has participated in every election for the Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha, and local bodies.
Negi had been a state icon since 2014. He was born in the Himachal Pradesh tribal district of Kinnaur in July 1917. In the Lok Sabha elections, he cast 16 votes.
The centenarian has cast a ballot in every election since 1951, according to the Chief Electoral Office of Himachal. Negi was a teacher by profession.
The 106-year-old implored the nation's citizens to utilise their right to vote on the day he cast his final ballot in order to support the democratic system.
"The young voters should consider their duty to vote and contribute to strengthening the nation," he said, adding that we should be proud of our ability to vote since it aids in choosing the right leader for the country.
A red carpet was arranged to bring him to the postal booth placed in the compound of his home, according to district election officer and deputy commissioner Abid Hussain Sadiq.
"Negi was brought on a red carpet till the booth where he exercised his right to franchise and soon thereafter his vote was sealed in an envelope and dropped in the ballot box," Sadiq said.
The first voter in Independent India was honoured by Sadiq, the returning officer cum SDM Kalpa, Major (retd) Dr Shashank Gupta, and the other officers and officials of the district government.
The centenarian voter had also received felicitations from the Chief Electoral Officer.