In a rare gesture, 93-year-old Shyam Saran of Kalpa village of Kinnaur district, one of the first few voters of Independent India, was honoured by Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla at Mr. Saran's home in Himachal Pradesh on Saturday.

Ill-health

Mr. Saran was greeted as part of EC's ongoing diamond jubilee celebrations, as he could not participate in the function held in Delhi a few months ago due to ill-health.

The EC had originally planned to bring him to Delhi and also arrange a meeting with President Pratibha Patil.

Elections advanced

Though the first general election to Lok Sabha and State Assemblies were held in 1952, in Kinnaur Assembly constituency it was held much earlier on October 23, 1951 in view of the area getting heavy snowfall during peak winter.

Mr. Saran's name was found first in the list of voters in the constituency and he was found out with the help of State election department.

He was a bachelor then and has cast his vote in all elections, but one, since then.

Mr. Chawla, who presented a shawl and garland to Mr. Saran, spent two hours at his house, chatting about the election system at that time.

Mr. Chawla told The Hindu from Kinnaur: “He told me that during those times there used to be different ballot boxes for different candidates. Though he did not remember his choice of candidate then, he recollected application of indelible ink on his finger and how he stamped the ballot paper.”

Kinnaur Collector Mamta said Mr. Saran felt proud to participate in the elections and he and his family had been given elector photo identity cards.

Mr. Saran retired as a school teacher.

His wife Heera Mani too never misses an opportunity to vote.

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