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8 May 2018

GTA to build memorial to Padmaja Spot where ex-governor ashes were strewn lies in oblivion

Binay Tamang offers khada at Tonglu, where Padmaja Naidu's Ashes are strewn.
Vivek Chhetri, TT, May 08, 2018, Sandakphu: The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has decided to build a memorial to Padmaja Naidu, the first lady governor of Bengal, at Tonglu, situated about 10,072ft high.

Tamang, who was on a visit to Sandakphu - the highest point in Bengal - on Sunday was taken aback when residents of Tonglu took him atop a hillock and showed him a circular structure that was erected to mark the place where Naidu's ashes were strewn.

Rajesh Thapa, the caretaker of a government inspection bungalow, which had been torched during the last phase of the agitation, told Tamang: "My grandfather and father, too, were caretakers here. My grandfather used to tell us that ashes of Padmaja Naidu were strewn here many years ago. I remember a forest officer visiting the spot many years ago but after that, none has come here."

Local people, who were present, echoed Thapa.

Atop the small 4ft high circular structure of roughly four-to-five diameter, there is no signage. The structure was probably built to fence a sapling, but it could not be verified.

Tamang said: "The GTA will immediately start work to install a memorial at this very spot. This is an important piece of information and will also be a landmark to those visiting Sandakphu in the Singalila range."

Tonglu is 21km short of Sandakphu.

Tamang said the GTA would also explore the possibility of landscaping the entire area.

"Since the place is adjacent to the road, it can be a tourist point. However, the important thing is to conserve this place," said Tamang.

The GTA was informed that the land belonged to the Darjeeling Improvement Fund, a department unique to the hills, under the state government.

Padmaja Naidu was the governor of Bengal from November 3, 1956, to June 1, 1967. Daughter of Indian freedom fighter Sarojini Naidu, she joined the Indian National Congress and was also jailed for taking part in the Quit India movement. She was also associated with the Indian Red Cross and also served as its chairperson.

The Darjeeling zoo is named after her as Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park.

Naidu breathed her last on May 2, 1975.

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