Sis­ter Nivedita’s prayer room dam­aged

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - Front Page - Pramod Giri let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

The room in Dar­jeel­ing where Sis­ter Nivedita said her last prayers and breathed her last was van­dalised by uniden­ti­fied mis­cre­ants in the wee hours on Thurs­day.

The room in­side a four-storey build­ing, named Roy Villa, houses an of­fice of Ra­makr­ishna Mis­sion and its Nivedita Cen­tre. The build­ing is not far from Dar­jeel­ing town.

Sis­ter Nivedita, a Scott-Ir­ish so­cial worker, was one of Swami Vivekananda’s clos­est dis­ci­ples. She made In­dia her home and in­spired scores of free­dom fighters in the spirit of na­tion­al­ism dur­ing the early 20th cen­tury.

She passed away in this room on Oc­to­ber 13, 1911. The in­ci­dent hap­pened in the wee hours on Thurs­day, the po­lice sus­pect.

“In our ab­sence, hooli­gans ran­sacked Roy Villa, in­clud­ing the shrine and the hall where Sis­ter Nivedita of­fered her last prayer and breathed her last,” said Swami Nityananda, sec­re­tary, Ra­makr­ishna Mis­sion’s Nivedita Ed­u­ca­tion and Cul­tural Cen­tre.

“This van­dal­ism is not con­nected to the on­go­ing ag­i­ta­tion in the hills. It ap­pears to be the hand­i­work of thieves,” said Akhilesh Chaturvedi, su­per­in­ten­dent of po­lice, Dar­jeel­ing.

The room where Nivedita breathed her last is on the fourth floor. The mis­cre­ants en­tered the room af­ter break­ing the win­dow­panes.

Apart from steal­ing the do­na­tion boxes, the mis­cre­ants dam­aged sev­eral framed pho­to­graphs.

The van­dals also took some ar­ti­cles from the prayer hall. The Nivedita Ed­u­ca­tion and Cul­tural Cen­tre runs coach­ing classes for chil­dren from poor fam­i­lies and trains lo­cals peo­ple, es­pe­cially wid­ows, in hand­i­crafts.

Roy Villa, owned by Ra­makr­ishna Mis­sion, is a her­itage build­ing about six kilo­me­ters from Dar­jeel­ing town.

It was con­structed in 1901 by D N Roy, a rel­a­tive of Acharya Ja­gadish Chan­dra Bose. The Bose fam­ily and Nivedita were close friends.

The build­ing was for­mally handed over to the state gov­ern­ment in 2013, fol­low­ing which the Ma­mata Ban­er­jee ad­min­is­tra­tion handed it over to Ra­makr­ishna Mis­sion in 2014. It be­came a tourist at­trac­tion in re­cent years.

In the wake of the in­def­i­nite bandh, the of­fice bear­ers left the house and went to Siliguri.

Fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent, Ra­makr­ishna Mis­sion of­fi­cials rushed to Dar­jeel­ing with a po­lice team.

HT PHOTO

The prayer room that was van­dalised by mis­cre­ants in Dar­jeel­ing on Thurs­day.

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