Darjeeling miscreants desecrate iconic Roy Villa
Darjeeling: The historic Roy Villa in Darjeeling where sister Nivedita breathed her last was ransacked by miscreants, amidst turmoil in the Hills. The room where sister Nivedita used to stay and passed away was also ransacked, apart from other parts of the building.
The heritage building, which houses Ramkrishna Mission Nivedita Educational and Cultural Centre is located at Lebong Cart Road and was a favourite haunt for historians and tourists alike.
No one was present in the Villa when the incident occurred. On Thursday morning, devotees found the Centre vandalised.
"We were in Siliguri when devotees called up. On entering the Centre, they saw that the main shrine and room along with the one where Sister Nivedita had passed away has been ransacked and vandalised. Photographs were thrown on the floor. Glass cases were broken. The donation box had been forced open and looted. We then rushed back to Darjeeling," stated Swami Nityasatyananda, in charge of the RKMNECC, Darjeeling.
Police have started an investigation. Roy Villa was owned by Dwarka Nath Roy, the brother-in-law of eminent scientist Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose. An ailing Sister Nivedita had arrived at Roy Villa in October 1911 to spend the Puja vacation and breathed her last there on October 13, 1911 at the age of 43.
Interestingly, during the Gorkhaland agitation launched by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) the Roy Villa was used as Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP-voluntary force under the GJM ) camp.
With the formation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) in August 2012, the Villa was transferred to the Games and Sports department of the GTA.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's initiative resulted in a barter between the state government and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) whereby the latter handed over Roy Villa to the state in lieu of which they got Tenzing Norgay Youth Hostel.
On July 10, 2013, the state government handed over Roy Villa to the Ramakrishna Mission. Items used by Sister Nivedita along with a few personal belongings are displayed there.
Along with various training programmes including women's empowerment, the RKMNECC provides free rations for the elderly; clothes for the economically backward and relief during natural calamities. The centre also runs a Gadadhar Abhyudaya Prakalpa (GAP) for children.
At present, 70 students from tea gardens and surrounding areas attend this programme which includes regular education, moral education, physical training and food.
With the resurrection of the Gorkhaland agitation in June this year, the signboards of the Centre at the Roy Villa had also been vandalised in the recent past.