HISTORICAL AWAKENING: BGP to remember Helen Lepcha, the lone crusader from Sikkim – but educated at Kurseong and most dear to Bapuji, a Bharatiya Gorkha ?!!
Gangtok, Aug 7: Sikkim’s contribution to India’s freedom struggle is now clearly established, thanks to the sincere efforts put in by the Sikkim chapter of the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP).
Till the recent research findings by the BGP members, not much was known about late Sabitri Devi (Helen Lepcha) who is arguably Sikkim’s lone crusader in India’s struggle for freedom.
The BGP release yesterday mentioned that having established clear links about the life and contribution of late Helen Lepcha, the association had decided to felicitate the freedom fighter posthumously, erect a statue in her memory and request the state government to name streets on the occasion of ‘Balidan Diwas’ on August 25.
The BGP would also release a book in the name of matyrs on August 25 on this occasion.
After a lot of hard work, the Sikkim BGP unit, during their recent visit to South Sikkim, were able to establish links and unearth facts regarding the enigmatic freedom fighter, who was heitherto lost in the darkness of oblivion, the release informed.
Helen Lepcha was born to Achung Lepcha in the year 1902 in the Sangmu village, about 15 kms from Namchi.
The family later shifted to Kurseong where she received her education.
However, in 1920, she got actively involved in the freedom struggle.
She got in touch with Gandhiji during those days and was named ‘Sabitri Devi’ by the Father of the Nation.
Sabitri Devi led the freedom movement operating from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, particularly in the coalmine areas.
She had reportedly received a ‘Tamra Patra’ from the Government of India as a token of appreciation for her tireless contribution to the freedom movement.
A century old Pears tree bears testimony to the faded chapter of history at her ancestral house.
Helen Lepcha died a quiet death on August 18, 1980 in Uttar Pradesh.
Freedom Fighter Helen (Savitri Devi) Lepcha’s ancestral home discovered
KalimNews: Sikkim Chaper of Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh recently discovered the ancestral home of Savitri Devi (1902-1980) and met her family members. Helen Lepcha named by Gandhiji as Savitri Devi, a freedom fighter had helped Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose to escape from his British Government’s captivity under house arrest at Giddepahar of Kurseong to Germany (1939).
Helen belonged to Sangmu village of Asangthang near Namchi of South Sikkim but stationed at Kurseong during the Independence movement from 1920.
Himalayan Beacon: Helen Lepcha was one of the most loved of Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi named her ‘Savitri Devi’. Savitri Devi led the Freedom Struggle in Darjeeling Hills for more than a decade. After the independence of the nation, the grateful nation awarded her with the ‘Tamra Patra’. However, Savitri Devi remains practically forgotten today.
AND FROM THE PAGES OF HISTORY – HOW IT ALL BEGAN ?!!
Darjeeling Hills Plunges into The Indian Independence Movement – and still no reward for it under colonialist Bengal, even after so very long, while the rest of India sleeps in peace, and readies to celebrate Independence Day, Independence for all – except Darjeeling ?!!
In the early months of 1934, a group of young revolutionaries met at a local club house in Calcutta. The small club house situated at the Park Street was ordinary to say the least and only used by the local boys of the neighbourhood as a means to spend time playing various indoor games.
At around 7pm of the fateful day, a group of individuals walked in. These rather grim looking individuals were neither member of the club nor from the neighbourhood. Among them were Bhawani Bhattacharya, Rabnindranath Banerjee, Manoranajan Banerjee, Ujjwal Majumdar, Madhusudan Banerjee, Sukumar Ghosh and Sushil Chakroborthy.
A conspiracy to assassinate the Governor of Bengal John Anderson was subsequently hatched by these individuals and Bhawani Bhattacharya and Rabindranath Banerjee chosen for the same. As per the plan, both Bhawani Bhattacharya and Rabindranath Banerjee left for Darjeeling and on arrival began to live in the town incognito.
Though it is not clear as to where they lived or who hosted them, it is known that they met frequently with the underground revolutionaries and supporters at the Nipendra Narayan Hindu Public Hall and practiced firing at the forests below the Shrubbery Park.
On the 8th May 1934, the assassination attempt on the Governor however, failed when both the revolutionaries were arrested and the Governor saved by the local police.
Bhawani Bhattacharya was eventually sentenced to death and Rabindranath Banerjee sentenced to life in prison. Later other revolutionaries who were found co-conspirators were also sentenced to prison. Among those who were indicted were all those who had conspired at the club in Calcutta-Manoranjan Banerjee, Ujjwal Majumdar, Madhusudan Banerjee, Sukumar Ghosh and Sushil Chakroborthy.
Darjeeling was truly humbled by the blood of these great revolutionaries.
A great spurt thence was noticed among the local people who took up the cause of the motherland. Names of the great Nepalese freedom fighters like Helen Lepcha, Gaga Tshering Dukpa, Mitra Sen Thapa, Major Durga Malla, Dal Bahadur Giri, Chabilal Upadhyay, Captain Dal Bahadur Thapa, Jungbir Sapkota, Ram Singh Thakuri, Krishna Bahadur Mukhia and Pushpa Kumar Ghising are today, legendary.
During the call of the Netaji also, the Gorkhas gave up everything to rally behind him and die for the motherland. The Indian National Army was filled with Gorkhas willing to fight.
While Helen Lepcha and Gaga Tshering Dukpa became ardent followers of Mahatma Gandhi and plunged into the nationalist movement, Pushpa Kumar Ghising participated in the 1946 Naval Uprising.
Puspa Kumar Ghising had actually got into the naval ammunition dump alone and taken its control after bringing down at least three British soldiers stationed there. The weapons thus procured then from the ammunition dump were used by the Indian sailors to hold back the British for 5 days. Ultimately on the fifth day, Ghising and his friends were arrested and taken to the Mulundi Jail where he was court-martialed but acquitted during the trail.
He resigned from the Navy on September 8, 1946 to plunge into the independence movement now on its ultimate stage. Truly, for such a small district, to have so many of Freedom fighters is remarkable to say the least.