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Old yet not out; single vote empowers elderly

01:20 AM Apr 27, 2024 IST | SHUCHISMITA
old yet not out  single vote empowers elderly

Jammu, Apr 26: “No, there’s none accompanying me. Why are you asking me this? I’m alone. My sons are settled outside. It was difficult for me to come here but it was not impossible. I came here to cast my vote. I was born in 1939. I’m old yet still bustling with life. I’m voting as I want to see my country strong and prosperous. I feel empowered thinking that I can do this with my single vote.”


Swinging his walking-stick, this was 85-year-old Diwan Singh, a retired engineer of Merchant Navy, who had just come out of Polling Station number 96-C established in Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Shastri Nagar, Jammu.


One was taken aback as he answered in a way, which sounded a bit domineering yet it was inspiring to see a man in his twilight, visualising life with such a positive outlook. No wonder, smiles were back as soon he was sharing his political choices, with a dash of humour.

Maintaining previous trends, elders remained a motivating lot, while participating in the electoral exercise in Jammu parliamentary constituency, which went to polls in the second phase on Friday.


For Krishan Chander Aggarwal, 84, a businessman, who cast his vote, along with his two daughters-in-law, at a polling station at Guru Harkrishan Public School Sector-3 Nanak Nagar, an inked finger was a sign of empowerment. “I always voted as a duty. My vote makes me important. I feel this way, I too contribute my bit for the country. I’m not sure whether the youngsters share this feeling (sense of duty) or not although they enjoy so many facilities created by the Election department at polling stations. But most people of my age always vote with a sense of responsibility and we still do – whether it is convenient or not. If you’ve grouses, this (vote) is an instrument of change – the most fatal weapon,” he points out, with a genial smile.


“Today it’s Jumma (Friday) and we’re supposed to go for Friday prayers. But for us, the day of polling is as significant and joyous an occasion as the festival of Eid. This is a democratic right as well as duty towards our nation. We were in a hurry to cast our votes so that we could go back to perform our religious duty as well,” a nomadic elder, who along with his three daughters and other members of family, cast votes in a polling station at Bajalta, said.


Rushing back to their residence, they were caught on the way by media-persons, who asked them to display their inked fingers.


However, the man did not stop. “See, I have come for a better future for children. Our elected representative will take care of our needs and redress our grievances,” he said and walked away.

Accompanying them were two first-time voters – siblings Zeenat and Parveen, unlike elderly persons they were enjoying responding to media queries. “It’s a good experience. We were keen to cast our votes. Our vote was for better education facilities and development.”

It was heartening to see another 86-year-old elder, riding a pony to reach his polling station at Purmandal. “He insisted upon going to the polling station to cast his vote. Since he was unable to walk properly and could not cover long distances. His family suggested that he should use a pony to reach the polling station. Other members of his family will still be on the way to the polling station,” said the youth, who was helping this elder.

It was difficult for Jeeto Devi, 80, an arthritis patient to traverse even a few steps yet she was there at Tagore Memorial Higher Secondary School, Rani Talab, Digiana to exercise her right to franchise. “There was no question to evade voting. I feel good after casting my vote,” she asserts.

Another voter Gurdayal Singh, 75, standing nearby, joins the conversation, “You know, vote is important for me as registration of name in the voter list facilitates procurement of many crucial documents. For me, to elect a Member Parliament (MP) of my choice is necessary to get all my work done.”

Guru Harkrishan Public School Sector-3 Nanak Nagar, which had seven polling stations viz., Polling Station Number 80, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94 and 95, saw many elders walking to cast their votes, overcoming their age-related ailments. They included Yash Gupta, 75, who was ailing yet was not willing to waste his powerful expression of empowerment – his valuable vote and Bansi Lal Sharma, 82, a retired bank employee.

Dr B R Sharma, 86, proudly posed for a selfie, displaying his inked finger after coming out of the polling station along with his son. Some with physical disabilities like Sheela Devi, 84, used wheel-chairs to cover long distances to their polling stations – but without any grouse.