GUWAHATI: Nagaland celebrated “Gandhi Jayanti” on Tuesday without its Gandhi. Natwar Thakkar, widely known as “Nagaland’s Gandhi”, is sick and hospitalised in Assam capital Guwahati.
The 86-year-old Thakkar, a Gandhian and Padma Shree, is the founder of “Nagaland Gandhi Ashram” at his workplace Chuchuyimlang in Nagaland. His efforts to spread Gandhian philosophy and peace in the insurgency-ravaged state earned him the sobriquet “Nagaland’s Gandhi”.
Thakkar, who married a Naga lady, Lentina Ao, who too is a Gandhian and a Padma Shree, fell ill on September 9 and was hospitalised in Nagaland’s commercial hub Dimapur. On September 19, he was shifted to the Apollo Hospital in Guwahati.
“He is recovering. He has been put out off ventilator. He is slowly regaining his senses. It started with high fever and then there were other complications including chest congestion etc. He is now breathing by himself,” Thakkar’s son Aotoshi told TNIE.
Thakkar is a member of the countrywide year-long celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
“This Gandhi Jayanti, he wanted to invite some renowned personalities and make the occasion the launching pad of the year-long celebration at Chuchuyimlang. So, that was the plan and we were in the process of discussing whom to invite. Suddenly, he fell sick,” Aotoshi said.
As the Gandhian is admitted to the hospital, it was a low-key Gandhi Jayanti celebration in Nagaland on Tuesday. People at Chuchuyimlang offered prayers for his speedy recovery.
“Chuchuyimlang celebrated the day even though he was not there. The Nagaland Gandhi Ashram and the two institutes – National Institute of Electronics & Information Technology and Mahatma Gandhi Academy of Human Development – he founded celebrated the day.
Since the time he landed in Chuchuyimlang, there has not been a single year when Gandhi Jayanti was not celebrated in the town, Aotoshi added.
When Thakkar came to Nagaland in 1955, the Naga insurgency movement was getting strengthened. Those days, the militants viewed every non-local in Nagaland as a “spy” of “India”.
They threatened him to leave the state but he was least perturbed. He kept himself busy by assisting the locals in various development and income-generating activities. The locals appealed to the militants not to harm him while the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru encouraged the Gandhian to keep staying in the village and continue his work. Nehru also allotted funds to promote his initiatives.