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India's Oldest First Time Voter Dies, His Dream Unfulfilled

Ali had been a resident of East Pakistan, Bangladesh and, finally, India.

09/01/2017 12:54 PM IST | Updated 09/01/2017 3:47 PM IST
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Asgar Ali, who became India's oldest first-time voter at the age of 103 in August 2015 after India and Bangladesh exchanged land enclaves, died in his family home on Sunday.

The Indian Express quoted his brother Shah Jahan as saying, "He died peacefully in his sleep at 5 am. He had not suffered and frankly, he was at peace after he was finally declared an Indian citizen."

Ali, who over his life had been a resident of three countries, became an Indian citizen after it signed the land boundary agreement with Bangladesh.

Born in 1913, Ali had never been able to vote in his life because of being an 'enclave dweller' and became a first-time voter on 5 May, 2016 when he cast his vote in the West Bengal Assembly elections, the Hindustan Times had reported.

"I'm very happy. We saw the birth of India and Pakistan, and later that of Bangladesh, but belonged nowhere," he had told the newspaper,

The newspaper had reported in May last year that Ali had barely been able to sleep the night before he voted and had carried the national flag with him to the polling booth, which he had touched "to his forehead in reverence."

Ali lived his entire life in Madhya Mashaldanga, which was first a part of East Pakistan, then Bangladesh and finally India. He was one of the 9,776 new Indian citizens, eligible to vote in India after the land-boundary agreement was signed between India and Bangladesh.

Though Ali's dream of becoming an Indian citizen and being able to vote had come true, he was not happy with the way enclave residents had been treated by the Indian government.

"Towards the end, he had become a little disillusioned," a resident of his village told the Indian Express. "He was unhappy about the way in which enclave residents were used for political purposes, and then ignored by the government. Our needs were never cared about."

The Times of India reports that while Ali's village had no electricity, Mansab Shaoraguri another Indian enclave located just 200 metres away had electricity.

Ali's son Billal Hossain told the Times of India, "A few poles have been planted but the pace of work was tardy. Initially, Asgar was very excited about the arrival of electricity and would frequently enquire how long it would take. But when nothing happened, he became disappointed and towards the end, he was crestfallen."

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