106 year old Shyam Saran Negi, the first voter of independent India passed away at his native place Kalpa, Himachal early morning today.
Deputy commissioner, Kinnaur, Abid Hussain Sadiq said that Shyam Saran Negi breathed his last at 2am at his residence. He also informed that Negi will be cremated with full state honours and elaborate arrangements were being made to that end.
In his remembrance, Chief Minister Himachal Pradesh Jairam Thakur tweeted, “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. Peace!”
Himachal Chief Election Officer Maneesh Garg also expressed his deep condolences. “Such was his commitment to democratic process that he voted till the last breath of his life on 2nd Nov, at his home in Kalpa. We salute him for his contribution to Indian democracy. He will be cremated with state honours today,” read a tweet from the official handle of CEO Himachal.
Negi has been a witness to the transitions that election process went through. Starting from putting the stamp on ballot paper to EVM to VVPAT, he has never missed his duty as a citizen of India. He has voted in all Panchayat, assembly and parliament elections. Till now, he had cast his vote in all the elections at the booth.
He had voted in this assembly polls via postal ballot on Wednesday as he was ill. This was for first time that he didn’t vote at polling booth, which he has been doing for last 34 times.
Saran first voted on October 23 1951.
In 2007, he was identified as the first voter of free India by the then chief Himachal Pradesh chief electoral officer Manisha Nanda.
He lived in Kalpa, a tiny hamlet at 9,730 ft in Kinnaur district.
He taught Hindi in a government school before he retired.
In 2012, in an interview The New Indian’s Executive Editor Rohan Dua, Negi said that he was extremely disheartened by the increasing corruption in the country. He was upset about the plethora of scams like Adarsh Housing, 2G, railway and defence scams that had marred Indian democracy before the 2014 General elections and that he wanted to turn an activist.