Centenarians, first-time voters show identical commitment to democracy

93 years olf Naseeb Singh and his wife 87 years old Shanti Devi at Polling Station Govt High School Ritti, Udhampur. — Excelsiro/K Kumar
93 years olf Naseeb Singh and his wife 87 years old Shanti Devi at Polling Station Govt High School Ritti, Udhampur. — Excelsiro/K Kumar

Rains fail to dampen spirit of voters

Nishikant Khajuria
UDHAMPUR, Apr 19: Despite torrential rain, enthusiastic people from all walks of life and age groups, including first time voters and centenarians exhibited identical commitment to democracy by casting their vote as Kathua-Udhampur-Doda Parliamentary constituency went to the polls in first phase of Lok Sabha elections today.
Elderly citizens, adorned with wrinkled smiles and an indomitable spirit, defied the inclement weather as they made their way to polling stations, showcasing their unwavering commitment to democracy.

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Steadfast determination of 109 years old Tirlok Singh, who cast his vote at Polling Station Thaley, Pinger-A in Udhampur and 100-year old Durgi Devi, wife of Chhannu, exercising her franchise at Polling station 144 Latti-B in Chenani, served as inspiration to the younger generation, reaffirming the importance of every vote cast.
“I don’t exactly know how many votes I have cast till now, But I will always do my duty to strengthen the democratic process of our country,” said 91-year old Chuni Lal, while reaching at the Upper Garnai village Polling Station in Udhampur.
Similarly, 93-year old Naseeb Singh and his 87-year old wife Shanti Devi walked a distance of around one kilometer to cast their vote at Polling Station in Government High School, Ritti. The elderly couple was greeted with warmth and assistance from polling staff and fellow citizens upon their arrival.
Sending message that age is no barrier to the civic duty, 102-year old Kehar Singh of Shara reached at Middle School, Shara Sandhar in 65-Basohli for casting his vote at Polling Station number 34 while 92-year old Savitri Devi cast her vote at Polling Station number 105, AC-65 Basohli.
Accompanied by family members and volunteers, these aged voters navigated through rain-soaked streets and accessibility challenges to participate in the electoral process. Basanti and Mahenu, 100-year old twin sisters from Doda, arrived at Polling Station number 44 in Higher Secondary School Koti with the help of later’s son to cast their vote.
Social Welfare Department and the district Administration Doda made special arrangements to carry unwell Sukh Devi (66) of Gatha in a well decorated palanquin to Pink Polling Station-44 where she cast her vote. Wheelchairs were kept at the Polling Stations for use of elderly and physically challenged persons.
Amidst the relentless downpour, 75-year-old Vishno Devi displayed unwavering determination at Roun village of Udhampur district to cast her ballot. She stood in a lengthy queue, umbrella in hand, patiently waiting for her turn to exercise her democratic right. After enduring a 30-minute wait, she finally marked her vote, her steadfastness echoing the importance of this civic duty. “The wait was worth it. Such opportunities to choose our representatives only come once every five years,” she remarked.
Brimming with excitement and a sense of responsibility, first-time voters eagerly embraced their role in shaping the nation’s future. Symbolizing the hope and aspirations of a new generation of voters, Gudiya and Rakhi were eager to make their voices heard.
“Our participation in the biggest festival of democracy empowers us to elect or reject a Government and one must not lose this opportunity,” they said after exercising their franchise for the first time at a Polling Station in Ramnagar.
“People must cast their vote and I believe that it is not only our democratic right but also a fundamental duty,” said Khushi, another first time voter at the same Polling Station.
Radhika Wazir of village Wazir Kotli in Bhaderwah, who cast her vote for the first time at Police Station 127, said: “Every voter, especially youth must cast their vote for development and national building without giving consideration to religion and caste.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Lovish Choudhary, a newcomer to the democratic journey who cast his maiden vote at the Polling Station 103, AC-65 Basohli. “Your voice shape the future”, said Dolly Devi and Garmia Gupta, first time voters from Basohli, after exercising their democratic right.
Despite the adverse weather conditions, the turnout remained commendable, underscoring the unwavering spirit of the people of this Parliamentary constituency and their firm belief in the power of democracy.
“The fervor and enthusiasm identically exhibited by senior citizens and the youth served as a poignant reminder of the enduring strength of democracy and the indomitable spirit of our people,” opined a political observer.