Delhi 2020

Kalitara Mandal, Delhi’s oldest voter, lived ‘twice as a refugee’

Kalitara Mandal, 111, shows her inked finger after voting at a polling station in Chittaranjan Park, New Delhi on February 8, 2020.

Kalitara Mandal, 111, shows her inked finger after voting at a polling station in Chittaranjan Park, New Delhi on February 8, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Ms. Mandal, 111, voted at a polling station in C.R. Park along with her son, grandson and other family members.

Centenarian Kalitara Mandal, the oldest voter in Delhi, cast her vote on February 8 and urged people to take part in the democratic exercise.

Aged 111, she came to a polling station in C.R. Park along with her son, grandson and other family members. She flashed her inked wrinkled finger to photographers after voting.

“I am happy to vote in this election. I don’t remember how many elections I have taken part in, but as a responsible citizen, we must vote. I urge other citizens to also come out and vote,” Ms. Mandal told PTI.

Born in undivided India in Barisal (now in Bangladesh), Ms. Mandal has seen the subcontinent go through turbulent phases many times, including two partitions, and lived “twice as a refugee” in India along with her family before finding a home in the national capital.

Kalitara Mandal, 111, shows her inked finger after voting at a polling station in Chittaranjan Park, New Delhi on February 8, 2020.

Kalitara Mandal, 111, shows her inked finger after voting at a polling station in Chittaranjan Park, New Delhi on February 8, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

 

There are a total of 132 centenarian voters in Delhi — 68 males and 64 females. According to a senior official of the Delhi Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Office, “At least 66 centenarians voted at polling booths today and five had used postal ballots earlier. More updates are coming in about the overall polling figures.”

They are treated “as VIPs” on the polling day, welcomed, picked up from home in a designated vehicle and then dropped home. At the polling station, an officer took selfie with them, officials said.

Ms. Mandal received the VIP treatment and attracted attention of fellow voters, many of whom had come to exercise their franchise for the fist time.

The assistant returning officer who escorted Mandal from her home in K-Block, Harish Kumar, said, “I feel blessed to have been given this job.”

“In this age, she came out and voted, it should be an inspiration for all of us Indians to use our democratic right of voting,” he said.

Mr. Kumar said, besides Mandal, there is another centenarian in the Greater Kailash constituency.

Zuibaida Khatun, 100, who cast her vote at Bulbule Khana School in Turkman Gate area in the Matia Mahal constituency, said she has never missed on voting in her life.

“I cannot walk without support. My grandson brought me to the booth,” she said, holding onto a stick.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 5:46:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/delhi-assembly/kalitara-mandal-delhis-oldest-voter-lived-twice-as-a-refugee/article30770672.ece

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