TODAY -

Indira Gandhi - An ephemeral encounter

S Balakrishnan *



One minute, 35 years ago - It could be the briefest ever public function of Mrs. Indira Gandhi. I would not believe it myself but for the still photographs of 30th July 1983 that are as fading as my memory is.

Ms. Gandhi, as the then Prime Minister, was on an official visit to Sikkim, probably her first to Sikkim as India’s young State. It was during her earlier tenure that the ‘merger’ of the Kingdom of Sikkim was officially sealed on 16 May 1975.

The Namgyal dynasty’s 333-year-long monarchy ended and ‘Denzong’ became ‘Sikkim’, Indian Union’s 22nd State. It was in 1642 that Phuntsog Namgyal was formally consecrated as Chogyal (Dharma Raja), though Sikkim had been ruled since 13th century by the Namgyal kings, the first in the line being Khye-Bumsa.

Dot at 7.30 AM on that misty morning she was at the function spot of Zero Point on Ridge Park Road, Gangtok. She was to rename Nathula Road as Jawaharlal Nehru Marg. Briskly alighting from the grey military jeep, she pressed the button to unveil the signage, boarded the jeep and was gone! Lo, hardly a minute!

In between, for a nano second she posed again for the official photographer who was a bit late arriving at the site. She had realized the might of the pen and the Press during Emergency. It was a simple, short & smart function, carried out in military precision.

Dressed simply in a light blue sari with black / dark blue border and a matching blouse, she looked smart with a streak of silvery hair. Coincidentally, she, as the daughter, was the first passenger to proceed on JN Marg, renamed after her father, to visit Nathula, the Indo-Tibet border post.

‘Nathu’ in Tibetan means ‘hearing/listening ear’ and ‘la’ is ‘mountain pass’. Nathula was then fully under army’s control; no border trade, no tourism, a strict and big ‘NO, NO’ for civilians. From this Zero Point, one can’t cross after the 5th mile. It was Shangri-La on the other side!

Officially aware of her itinerary, like a paparazzo, I stationed myself at a vantage point well ahead of the scheduled time; with my Yashica Electro 35 still camera I clicked just two snaps of this briefest function of the VVIP. Had it been a digital camera, I could have kept on clicking or even videoed the event.

As the convoy sped, I again clicked her from as close a range as 3 ft. from my lucky position. Unimaginable in these days of security cordon! The flamboyant Sikkim Governor, Homi J.H. Taleyarkhan, was present along with BRO Chief, but not the firebrand Chief Minister, Mr. Nar Bahadur Bhandari.

His relation with Congress (I) had by then soured, particularly with the Governor, who was allegedly acting as the ‘hand’ of Congress I; he was also a publicitymonger. This led to the formation of Sikkim Sangram Parishad that saw NB Bhandari rule the state for the next ten years.

A few days after her trip, the task of transcripting her press conference fell on me. The job was done at All India Radio, Gangtok. While the questions were fired in a mixture of English, Hindi & Nepali, she replied in English and Hindi in her usual style - wriggling out of sensitive questions, joking, matter-of-fact answers, counter questions, and all that.

31 October 1984 - a year and a quarter later, as the rumours of her assassination trickled in, BBC radio confirmed it. My close encounter and repeated listening of her voice that boomed through the headphone had made me helplessly succumb to her charisma. Hence the news was very disturbing. The official JN Marg, however, continues to be popularly and practically called as Nathula Road by the citizens!

One minute, 35 years ago - an ephemeral encounter, but an ever lasting impression!


* S Balakrishnan wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at krishnanbala2004(AT)yahoo(DOT)co(DOT)in
This article was webcasted on December 31, 2018.



* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Rev William Pettigrew & Modern Education
  • Cheirao-chingkaba #3 : Gallery
  • Old-Kuki group by Linguistic Survey in 1904
  • A constellation of Five :: Poem
  • A free stopover at Amsterdam
  • Standing in queue for exam form at MU
  • Questions on the ceasefire coverage
  • Paoki Paddy Festival @Purul #1: Gallery
  • Status of Naga-Kuki relation in Manipur #2
  • There is no 3rd option between true & false
  • Global Warming- Climate change & effect
  • Summertime Blues :: Poem
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Blocked heart valve treated without surgery
  • Reality of Education system in Manipur
  • Laichombam Sapana @ JNMDA : Gallery
  • Chingkhei Nganba, Amom :: eMing
  • Rise & Fall of Cachari Kingdom #1
  • Modi once again- Reading Election result
  • Function of Nampou of Zeliangrongs #1
  • Job Openings at Raj Medicity
  • Tatmadaw initiate forced labour on Chin
  • State BJP : Set to look beyond 2022
  • Return of Modi-Shah combo
  • Zhaoshomai, indigenous religion of Liiyai
  • Fashion by Kumarjit Laishram #2 : Gallery
  • Dams as a death trap in Manipur
  • Raju Bista (Kangpoki) is MP of Darjeeling
  • Sufferings from trust deficit
  • Bamboo charcoal.. for bamboo flowering
  • The NAMO, Amit Shah magic
  • A take on India's Act East Policy
  • Pakhangba Cheng-hongba #1 : Gallery
  • Better Selfie with Smarter Technology
  • Repeal AFSPA enacted on 22 May 1958
  • Cry of a Dying River - 77 :: Poem
  • Biodiversity : Why humanity should care ?
  • Research Officer at Amethyst Research
  • The Terrace Open Mic - II : Report
  • NPF exposed in public domain : NDPP
  • End of the largest democratic exercise
  • Stop faking and face the facts
  • Future Hindu Culture of Meitei is magificient
  • International Day of Biodiversity 2019
  • The Trunk that life of a Soldier moves on
  • MCS/MPS through lottery ? :: WJ
  • Job Vacancies at Leima Traders
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • 'Double standard' politics of NPF :: NDPP
  • Exit polls : Not the final verdict
  • Poll result prediction
  • Mary storms into semis
  • Glory Days of Manipur in the 18th Century
  • Alternate Rationality: Its Possibility : Book
  • Does burning of school reflect larger malady
  • RIST Talk 39 : Year of Periodic Table
  • Manipur : A woman's world
  • Paramedical courses as career options
  • Revoke suspension for NPF Office Bearers
  • Class X results : Best in 10 years
  • The wrath of Mother Nature
  • Poumai Purul Paoki Fest : Gallery
  • AEgi KoHcY :: Seireng
  • The Tamna Tamna Video: Critical Analysis
  • 'NDPP's child like attitude for meddling'
  • Rejoinder to NDPP by NPF President
  • Amazing beauty benefits of coconut oil
  • Urge Nagaland govt to review security
  • Pull out threat from the NPF
  • Myanmar launches ops on NE militants
  • Myanmar jails 24 from Assam, Manipur
  • 2019 HSLC Exam Toppers :: Gallery
  • HSLC Toppers share thoughts, aspirations
  • CFP on 'Photoacoustics' at IEEE TENCON
  • Arrival of Fall Armyworm in Manipur
  • Youth and Contemporary Issues #4
  • No Escape from Real World :: Poem
  • Civil & Structural Engineer at R-Square
  • Architectural Designer at R-Square DCS
  • 'NPF Manipur is directionless leadership'
  • HSLC :: Top 25 Rank Holders
  • HSLC :: Subject Topper
  • HSLC :: Statistical Abstract
  • HSLC :: Full Roll No Listing
  • HSLC :: Compartmental
  • Dairies of 2 Tours in Naga Hills : Book
  • Kohima Press Club (KPC) elects new team
  • Manipur : The unsung fashion capital
  • Brain Stimulation for Parkinson disease
  • 2nd Foundation Day of NDPP
  • Changing face of the North East
  • 129th Birth Anniversary of Ho Chi Minh
  • Understanding performance of Govt school
  • Amazing Folk-tales of Koireng Tribe
  • Fashion by Kumarjit Laishram #1 : Gallery
  • Cry of a Dying River - 76 :: Poem
  • Plastic Pollution & its effect
  • Significance of Nurses Week celebration
  • Legal Assistance to Prisoners' Family
  • Talk on 'Alliance - Biblical Perspective'
  • Shorthand/Stenography Typing Course
  • Fissures with a coalition partner
  • 4 plus 4 is always equal to 8
  • Mukna Kangjei Tournament : Gallery
  • Socio-cultural significance of Gudui-Ngai
  • Diesel auto vs Traffic control :: Artwork
  • Future of Moreh: Development partnership..
  • An alarming stay in a hotel
  • Naga Students Delhi Admission help Desk
  • Need to focus on the average students too
  • The politics of rumours
  • Phayeng Koubru Haraoba #4 : Gallery
  • ELVEEGO : Top 10 Promising Companies
  • Myanmar Refugee Problem : Report
  • Mother :: Poem
  • Minerva Punjab FC to conduct trials
  • Represent the people, not only party
  • When vegetables slowly poison us?
  • Hr Sec Exam 2019 Toppers #2: Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2019 #2: Gallery
  • Dear Mother :: Poem
  • Youth and Contemporary Issues #3
  • Why are Govt schools lagging behind ?
  • Career option in Veterinary Science
  • Saluting Mothers of the world
  • Will Sharmila have a Third Life ?
  • NE for efforts to address illegal influx
  • Rs 10 coins not acceptable in Manipur!
  • Agri Fair @ CAU #2 : Gallery
  • Khomlen Manglanda - A Play #2 : Gallery
  • AMWJU new terms 2019-2021
  • Run for Raisina Hill
  • Happy Mother's Day
  • Mother's Day
  • Aspiration in Medical Career
  • MPSC : Wallowing in dirt
  • Why the 1st Bird Sanctuary in Thinungei
  • Purnima Moirangthem : 5th in Commerce
  • Respect for a mother
  • Academic excellence is not everything
  • Indo-Naga & other peace talks #6
  • A Dwarfish Whole :: Poem
  • Takayasu Arteritis treated at SKY Hospital
  • Mercury rise: Is it common men fault
  • Ajit Ningthouja :: eRang Photos
  • Had not there been ILPS agitation ? : Story
  • Dance & folk songs of natives of NE #2
  • BJP for NE Community Campaign in Delhi
  • Serou dam-Atypical structure in Chakpi river
  • Benefits of automation in medical laboratory
  • Civil Servant from Matupi hospitalized...
  • Madness on the roads of Imphal
  • Root of peoples' anger to doctors
  • Jiribam Bazaar :: 360 Panorama View
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Cry of a Dying River - 75 :: Poem
  • What Yoga is & is not ?
  • Rio at General Conference of NSF
  • Make right choice in selecting your campus
  • Suspension Order for 19 NPF Members
  • Festival of marks and more marks
  • ..no worry on condition of Govt Schools
  • Thailand Princess @Kangla #2 :: Gallery
  • Kadigampou, Akeng :: eMing
  • Ningombam Tampha :: 3rd in ISC Exam
  • Our Grammy goes to Thangmeiso Shinglai
  • Call for application from youths
  • Life is not about how far you hang on
  • NERIST admission notice : PG & PhD
  • Seminar at MU : Material Engineering
  • Class XII : Looking beyond Imphal
  • Understanding Consumers' rights
  • HSE : Candidates securing Highest Marks
  • HSE 2019 : Science Stream Result
  • HSE 2019 : Arts Stream Result
  • HSE 2019 : Commerce Stream Result
  • HSE 2019 Toppers : Science
  • HSE 2019 Toppers : Arts
  • HSE 2019 Toppers : Commerce
  • HSE 2019 : Result Abstract
  • HSE 2019 : District Wise
  • Solid waste management in Imphal
  • Naga Ancestral Freedom Movement
  • My franchise for Mom's Primary
  • Bamboo based industries in Manipur
  • Is sugar ageing you
  • Competition among schools
  • Will modification help in solving traffic chaos
  • Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #2 :: Gallery
  • MANFETE 2019 at MU :: Gallery
  • Dance & folk songs of natives of NE #1
  • Indo-Naga & other peace talks #5
  • Ibudhou Oknarel & Khudithibi
  • May Calendar for Year 2019 :: Tools
  • Andro Girls won Doon Cup :: Gallery
  • Tributes on Khongjom Day #2 :: Gallery
  • M Diana: National Women Social Award
  • Handloom show : Robert Naorem & Soma
  • Urmila Shagolsem: Miss India 2019 Finalist
  • Thang Ta @Sangai Fest #5 :: Gallery
  • Indo-Naga & other peace talks #4
  • Yaoshang Halankar #2 :: Gallery
  • Significance of festival: Nanu-Ngai
  • Onetwo Okram - Singer #1 :: eRang
  • Tributes on Khongjom Day #1 :: Gallery
  • Shajibu Cheiraoba @ Pune : Gallery
  • Romita Yumnam : Mrs India Queen
  • Meekap Thokpa Numit #2 : Gallery
  • Tributes to PLA killed #2 : Gallery
  • A talk with Ajit Ningthouja :: eRang
  • LS : Voting for Inner : Gallery
  • Ibendhou Kounu Haraoba #2: Gallery
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba at Mysore #2: Gallery
  • Voting (PC) @ Kangpokpi #3: Gallery
  • Mittong Khunou: The Battle Honour of INA
  • Thabal Chongba @Khurai : Gallery
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download
  • List of Restricted Holidays for 2019
  • List of Public Holidays for 2019
  • List of General Holidays for 2019
  • SPONSORED ADS