SILIGURI (INDIA), July 17: Nara Bahadur Bhandari, who played significant role in recognizing Nepali language in Sikkim State of India, breathed his last at a New Delhi hospital on Sunday. Old age and frail health caught up with him, leading to an eventual demise. He was 77.
He was elected chief minister of Sikkim for the first time in 1979.
Bhandari, the three-time former chief minister of Sikkim, had not been politically active in his later years due to poor health. His political presence during those times were only limited to attending a few formal functions. His political presence, in the recent years, was nowhere near to rival Pawan Chamling’s, once his trusted aide. Nonetheless, people of Sikkim still reminisce and admire the contributions Bhandari made when he was politically active.
Not just the residents of Sikkim, thousands of Nepali-speaking people in India felt that they lost their guardian and beloved father. Other communities in India, as well as international communities, also expressed their sympathies and offered condolences upon hearing the news of Bhandari’s demise.
On Monday when Bhandari’s body arrived at Bagdogra, people formed long queues to offer their last respects. The government of Sikkim has decided to cremate him with state honors and has already announced public holiday for Wednesday and seven days of mourning.
His legacy includes the successful attempt to provide legal recognition to Nepali language in India.
“Nepali-speaking communities of India have lost a guardian,” read an editorial published in a Nepali daily which is widely circulated in eastern India. “Bhandari will not be remembered only as former CM, but also as a leader who fought for providing legal recognition to Nepali language in India. He will forever be remembered by India’s Nepali-speaking communities.”