Centenarian casts his vote for first time in life

Centenarian casts his vote for first time in life

 For the last several decades 103-year-old Asgar Ali had been waiting patiently for this moment in his life when his voice is heard in the formation of a government.

Early morning today, he fulfilled his dream as he walked out of a polling booth in Dinhata constituency of Cooch Behar district along with voters from three generations of his family.

He is the eldest among 9,776 voters in the erstwhile Indo-Bangladesh border enclaves (Chitmahal) who were eligible to vote for the first time today since Independence after a formal inclusion into the Indian territory last year.

Beaming with pride, Ali happily posed for cameras while flashing the ink mark on his index finger.

"It is like a dream come true for me. I am satisfied now but not sure whether I will be there during next elections," he told reporters.

Accompanying him was his 24-year-old grandson Jaynal Abedin who said his grandfather was very excited ever since he got his voter identity card.

Ali has two sons, five daughters and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
"Since nobody from our family or our neighbourhood had ever voted, we didn't knew how to cast vote. But we got help from polling officials who explained us everything," Abedin said.

The Election Commission had made special arrangements and awareness programs for the first-time voters.

The Bharat Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Coordination Committee, which was fighting for the rights of enclave dwellers, has now become defunct after 111 enclaves of India and 51 enclaves of Bangladesh were exchanged last year in August.

Diptiman Sengupta of the new body Nagarik Adhikar Samanway Raksha Committee told PTI that they voted independently and without any fear.

He estimates that around 20 per cent of the first-time voters in the enclaves were aged above 60.

"All were excited, happy and proud to be part of the electoral process," Sengupta said.
The enclave voters are spread across five constituencies of Dinhata, Mekhliganj, Sitai, Sitalkuchi and Tufanganj.

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