Natwar Thakkar, Nagaland’s ‘Gandhi’, dies

He made the State his home during the height of the secessionist movement in 1955 and worked for peace
Noted Gandhian Natwar Thakkar, the man who was thought be an Indian spy at the peak of an armed Naga movement for sovereignty seven decades ago, but came to be accepted as “Nagaland’s Gandhi”, died in a private hospital in Guwahati on Sunday. Mr. Thakkar, 86, who was honoured with the Padma Shri, fell ill on September 9 at his workplace in Chuchuyimlang town. He was shifted to Guwahati from a hospital in Dimapur in Nagaland. His wife, Lentina Ao, also a Gandhian and Padma Shri winner, and his son, Aotoshi, and two daughters, were by his side when he breathed his last at 7.10 a.m. Mr. Thakkar had been chosen as a member of a committee constituted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the year-long celebration of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary across the country. He was 23 when he went to Nagaland from Maharashtra in 1955 when the movement for secession from India under the legendary Naga leader A.Z. Angami was gaining momentum. His Gandhian mission was viewed as a front for espionage by New Delhi and he was often told, at gunpoint, to leave the Naga domain. But Mr. Thakkar made Nagaland his home, married a woman from the Ao Naga community and worked to spread Gandhian philosophy.
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