Gangtok, June 10: In another death that has shocked many citizens in the state, Hemlata Chettri, the first woman legislator of Sikkim passed away at age 65 due to a cardiac arrest.
In 1974, out of the 32 seats in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, 31 were won by the Sikkim State Congress which included the first lady MLA, Mrs. Hemlata Chhetri, elected from the Geyzing constituency in West Sikkim. Her husband, NB Khatiwara also won a seat in the same year from the Dentam constituency, also in West Sikkim.
It is important to Sikkim’s political and social history that citizens remember what her contribution entailed. Her entry into politics showed that women could break the glass ceiling and govern the people.
Over the years, Sikkim has remained at around 3% in terms of political representation of women members in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly.
She was the lone female representative in the construction of the Constitution Bill which was passed on June 28, 1974, which along with the agreement of the Chogyal ‘the Sikkim Constitution Act, 1974’ gave the state an associate status. The Sikkim Assembly formed through the elections of 1974 with 32 members finally became the First Legislative Assembly of Sikkim.
The Chief Minister of Sikkim, Prem Singh Tamang released a condolence message on her passing.
सिक्किमकि पहिलो महिला बिधायिका, श्रीमती हेम लता छेत्रीको असामयिक निधनमा म गहिरो शोक व्यक्त गर्दछु।
उहाँले पश्चिम् सिक्किम अन्तर्गत गेजिङ्ग निर्वाचन क्षेत्रबाट महिला उम्मेदवारको रुपमा निर-्वाचित भइ 1974 देखि 1979 सम्म पहिलो महिला बिधायिकाको प्रतिष्ठित पद सम्हाल्नु भएको थियो
उहाँ तिमी तार्कु दक्षिण सिक्किमबाट हुनुहुन्छ भने उहाँले 1973 सालको आन्दोलनमा सकृय भुमिका निर्वाह गरि प्रजातान्त्रिक सिक्किमको परिकल्पनाको लक्ष्यमा यथेष्ट योगदान पुर्याउनु भएको थियो ।
उहाँका माइतीपक्ष लगायत सम्पुर्ण परिवारनै सिक्किमेको उत्थान र स्वतन्त्रताप्रति समर्पित हुनुहुन्थ्यो, जसको अमुल्य योगदान सिक्किमले कहिले बिर्सन सक्दैन ।
1973 सालको स्वतन्त्रता आन्दोलनको इतिहासमा उहाँका पति श्री नर बहादुर खतिवडाको नाम अग्रिम पंक्तिमा पाइन्छ ।
यतिमात्र नभएर, उहाँ सिक्किम महिला आयोगको विभिन्न उच्च पदमा रहेर महिलाहरुको उत्थान हेतु धेरै योगदान दिनुभएको छ ।
विशेषगरि सिक्किमे नारी जगतको निम्ति मात्र नभएर सर्बसाधारणको निम्ति एक आदर्श प्रेरणाको श्रोत यसरी बिमुख भएर जानु भनेको हाम्रो निम्ति एउटा अपुरणिय क्षति हो ।
यो दु:खद समाचारले हामी निष्तब्ध भएका छौँ ।
हामी प्रार्थना गर्दछौं, उहाँको दिवंगत आत्माले चिर शान्ति प्राप्त गरून् एवं उहाँको परिवार, आफन्त एवं पृयजनलाई ईश्वरबाट यो संकटमय स्थिति सहन गर्न सक्ने शक्ति एवं धैर्यता प्राप्त हवस ।
“I am deeply saddened by the untimely demise of Mrs. Hem Lata Chhetri, the first woman MLA of Sikkim. She was elected as a woman candidate from Geyzing constituency in West Sikkim and held the prestigious post of the first woman legislator from 1974 to 1979.
She was from Temi Tarku and played an active role in the 1973 movement which contributed significantly to the goal of a democratic Sikkim. Her entire family, whose dedication to the upliftment and independence of Sikkim, whose invaluable contribution Sikkim will never forget.
Her husband, Shri Nar Bahadur Khatiwada, was at the forefront of the history of the 1973 independence movement. Not only this, but she has also contributed a lot for the upliftment of women by holding various high posts in the Sikkim Women’s Commission.
It is an irreparable loss for us, especially for the women of Sikkim to be deprived of such an ideal source of inspiration not only for the world but also for the general public. We are shocked by this sad news.
We pray that her departed soul may have eternal peace and that her family, relatives and loved ones may have the strength and patience from God to endure this dire situation.”