Rhenock, 26 Apr: (IPR)

Rhenock will have a statue of literary legend Late Shiva Kumar Rai, along with two State heritage centres as a tribute to the legend, who was born in Rhenock on 26 April, 1919. This was announced by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, present as the chief guest, at the Centenary Celebration function of the birth anniversary of the literary figure at Rhenock Bazaar today.

The Chief Minister was responding to suggestions made by Chairperson, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, Binay Tamang during his address. Mr Tamang attended the function as the guest of honour on the invitation of the Celebration Committee.

The function was jointly organised by Nepali Sahitya Parishad Sikkim and Shiva Kumar Rai Janma Satavarshi Samorah Samiti (Shiva Kumar Rai Birth Centenary Celebration Committee), Kurseong and Sikkim. The programme was presided over by MLA, Rhenock constituency, Hemendra Adhikari, who also addressed the gathering.

At the outset, the year-long centenary celebration was declared open by the Chief Minister. It was informed that similar programmes to mark this important day were being held simultaneously in different parts of the country where Indian Nepalese reside.

While addressing the gathering, Mr Chamling said that it was a fulfilling day for Nepali literature as it marked the beginning of the Centenary Celebration of the birth anniversary of the doyen of Nepali literature. He stated that it was most befitting for this programme to be held in Rhenock as it is the birth place of the legend.

“Shiva Kumar Rai was born in Rhenock but he went on to make a mark in the Nepali literary world,” he added.

“I pay my rich tribute to Shiva Kumar Rai and pray that his work will continue to inspire generations,” he stated. He further shared that Shiva Kumar Rai was known for being a multi-faceted individual and a humanitarian.

Speaking about Gorkha identity, the Chief Minister said that it is time now to move out of the limited identity of Gorkhas as brave warriors and introspect how we can best use the experience of the past in the present and strengthen our future. He suggested that time has come to exhibit our prowess in today’s science and knowledge-driven age.

“Today out battlefield has changed, we have to be abreast with the latest developments to be at par with the rest of the world,” he added.

He further said that Gorkhas have always fought battles for others and that it is time we started fighting battles for ourselves. Terming it as ‘battle of life’ or ‘jiwan yuddha’, the Chief Minister stated that Gorkhas have to start believing in themselves, realize their democratic rights and privileges and free themselves from the clutches of dependency.

Speaking on Sikkim-Darjeeling ties, the CM maintained that the people of Sikkim have immense respect, care and concern for the people of Darjeeling hills. He assured that there would be no misunderstanding from Sikkim’s side and anybody trying to instigate fear and insecurity on either side would be taken to task.

Sikkim and Darjeeling have historical, emotional, social and geographical relation with each other, he added. Sikkim and Darjeeling should work together in areas like tourism, floriculture and share each other’s strengths. The rich natural resources of both the regions can help strengthen both regions, he added. He apprised that Sikkim and Darjeeling will work closely in future and an officer-level meeting would be held soon to discuss further areas of cooperation.

The Chief Minister reiterated that National Highway 10, the only lifeline for Sikkim, should be kept free of any disturbances and safety of passengers travelling to and from Sikkim should be ensured at all times. He added that every State should respect the federal system and the rights and privileges prescribed thereof by the Indian Constitution and carry out our duties. Law and order comes under the purview of the State Government and should be so ascertained, he added.

The Chief Minister also made a new announcement during the function. A Sikkimese woman who is a COI holder and is married to someone outside the State is still entitled to purchase land within Sikkim. Likewise, a woman COI holder, married to a person outside the State, and employed in the State Government in a temporary capacity will get regularized in due course of time.

Earlier, GTA Chairperson, Binay Tamang in his address stated that Sikkim has made a huge contribution to the Nepali literary world in the form of Shiva Kumar Rai, who was born in Sikkim and later moved to Darjeeling and Kurseong. He gave a brief account of the life and notable achievements of Late Shiva Kumar Rai. He shared that all the schools in Darjeeling hills observed two minutes silence and shared valuable information about the litterateur in their respective schools this morning as a mark of respect to the legend.

Binay Tamang made a suggestion that both Sikkim and Darjeeling should come together on a common platform to organize a literary programme where distinguished Nepali literary figures from across the country and different parts of the world are felicitated. He shared similar initiatives taken by the GTA in the past.

He further informed that the GTA has decided to hold the first Swargiya Shiv Kumar Rai Award this year and shared that noted litterateur Krishna Singh Moktan has been chosen for the same. He also extended an invitation to the Chief Minister and informed that he would also invite Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamta Banerjee to attend the programme.

Binay Tamang also informed the gathering that he has requested West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamta Banerjee to speak about Shiva Kumar Rai in the upcoming State Assembly Session.

The GTA Chairperson also read out the message from Mamta Banerjee on the occasion.

On Darjeeling-Sikkim relations, Binay Tamang stated that Darjeeling hills has been declared a strike-free zone and a helpline would also be operational very soon to ensure total security of passengers travelling along the NH-10 and within the GTA. He further informed that the GTA has granted the No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the Railway line from Sevoke to Rangpo. He expressed hope that the project would be complete by the stipulated deadline of 2022.

“I am highly honoured to be sharing stage with Shri Pawan Chamling who will become the longest serving Chief Minister in the country. May he continue to lead the State of Sikkim and guide the future of the Sikkimese people,” concluded Mr Tamang.

Earlier, the programme began with welcome address by Chief Coordinator, Shiva Kumar Rai Janma Satavarshiki Samaroh Samiti, RK Pradhan.

The programme was also addressed by president, Gorkha Jana Pustakalaya, Kurseong, Tilak Sharma.

Dr. Jas Yonjan Pyasi, eminent litterateur from Kurseong gave a brief account of the contribution of Late Shiva Kumar Rai in Nepali literature.

President, Nepali Sahitya Parishad Sikkim, Rudra Poudyal highlighted the contribution of the literary legend in the context of Sikkim.

The program also saw cultural presentations by students of Government Junior High School Rhenock Bazaar and Government Secondary School Tarpin.

The Chief Minister was also felicitated by the Panchayats of Rhenock Gram Panchayat Unit.

The programme had the presence of Cabinet Minsters, RB Subba, DT Lepcha, AK Ghatani, MLA Bikram Pradhan, Panchayat Adhyakshas and Upadhyakshas, and noted Nepali literary figures from Darjeeling, Kurseong, Dooars, Siliguri, Kalimpong and Sikkim.