If one were to go by the electoral lists maintained by the Election Commission, there are at least 12 people in Delhi breaking the Guinness world record for oldest person alive.
A copy of the voter list procured from the Chief Electoral Officer in Delhi, records 12 people who are 124 years old.
However, at least two of these whom Newsline contacted are in their early 20s.
Neeraj, who lives in Mangolpuri with his family, is 24 but listed as the fourth voter in the 124-year-olds category. “The voter ID card number is correct in the list as is my address and contact details. But I am just 24. Why add another 100 years to my age?” he jokes.
Karan Jadon, 10th on the same list, is 26 and works with a private firm. A resident of Lakhpat Colony, Jadon is still waiting to receive his voter card. “The members of Election Commission came some weeks ago to collect our details. Maybe it is a technical error,” Jadon said.
Monika Shukla, another 124-year-old voter listed as a resident of Rajiv Nagar extension in Begumpur, is unheard of by the locals. The lady who took the call on the mentioned contact number said “there is nobody by that name here.”
Similarly, residents of 104-B, Basant Gaon near Vasant Vihar denied that anybody by the name of Akhilesh Kumar Pandey ever lived there. Pandey, at 123 years, would have been among the second oldest voters’ category.
“Either there is some mistake or this Pandey man just exists on paper, as often happens in India,” said Rajshree, one of the residents.
Ironically, a few houses away from what the Election Commission claims is the house of Pandey, lives another couple well in their hundreds. Roop Chand Singhania and his wife, Beedoh do not remember their exact ages. What the couple do remember, however, is that Singhania retired from his job at the NDMC well over four decades ago.
“My husband belongs to Rajasthan while I am from Dhoondsa near Faridabad. But we have been living in Delhi for many many years. My five sons, two daughters were all born here in this house. We have seen five generations in our family.
And we have never missed voting; not once,” Beedoh told Newsline. “I always saw him vote for haath (hand) and I followed it. We like Haath. Puraana hai bada (It’s quite old). But then, last time, we voted for kamal (lotus).”
Citing corruption for shifting loyalties in Assembly elections held a few months ago, Beedoh said, “Sab kahe sarkaar chor hai. Isliye (Everyone says the present government is a thief. That’s why).”
Ahead of Lok Sabha elections, the couple is undecided about who to vote for but schemes for golden-agers will play a part in their decision.
“Our pension is irregular and meager. My husband’s medical expenditure is a lot. Has any neta written in their parcha about us?” Beedoh asked, referring to the election manifestos. “The one who gives us old-age benefits gets my vote,” she added as an afterthought.
Senior officials of Delhi Election Commission, however, cite manual errors and lack of proper addresses in unathorised colonies for the irregularities.
“We try to be as accurate as we can. But the problem with such areas is that people change their residences quickly. Moreover, the addresses keep changing. In a single numbered plot, several divisions happen and many houses crop up,” an official from the office of the CEO said.