Sherpas slam state govt for ‘biased attitude’ on missing climber Dawa Sherpa

The Siliguri Sherpa Buddhist Welfare Centre (SSBWC) today slammed the state government for its ‘biased attitude’ when it comes to taking initiatives for the rescue of Dawa Sherpa, who went missing in a avalanche on Mount Kanchenjungha, along with West Bengal’s Everester Chhanda Gayen.

Dawa Wangchuk Sherpa, the high altitude mountain guide from Darjeeling
Dawa Wangchuk Sherpa, the high altitude mountain
guide from Darjeeling

The secretary of the centre, Phurba Sherpa, who had been to the Everest base camp at Kalapatthar in Nepal in 2005, said the state government was not sincere in its efforts to trace Gayen and the Sherpa who hail from Darjeeling.

“I visited Dawa’s house recently and found that his last rites were being performed there. It is sad that the state government is doing all it can to rescue Chhanda Gayen, but there was hardly any initiative for Dawa, who accompanied her to the expedition,” Mr Sherpa said.

“The chief minister herself visited the house of Ms Gayen, while officials from the Nepalese Consulate in Kolkata also called on her family members. But, according to what I have gathered, she has not sent even a representative to visit Dawa’s house,” he added. He was speaking at a function organized here to celebrate 61 years of the first Everest ascent by Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary.

He demanded that the state government at least provide financial assistance to the family members of the missing Sherpa.

“He has parents and was married a few months ago. It is very unfortunate that the private company of Nepal which had appointed Dawa also did not show any gesture,” Mr Sherpa said.

Another Sherpa from Nepal is also missing along with Dawa and Gayen in an avalanche that struck their expedition on 20 May.

Mr Sherpa said he doubted statements made by Tashi Sherpa, who was guiding Ms Gayen and the two Sherpas, that it was not an avalanche but an accident where the trio fell from a crevice and disappeared in the cleavages of the mountain.

Mr Sherpa, who is also the advisor to the United Sherpa Association, also raised questions over the cleanliness of the statue of Tenzing Norgay at Darjeeling More here.

The ’61st Year of Ascent of Mt Everest and Birth Centenary Year of Tenzing Norgay’ was a low key affair following the disappearance of Ms Gayen and the two other Sherpas and the death of 16 Sherpas in an avalanche on Everest on 18 April. The annual Tenzing Norgay Memorial Award that is given to clubs in north Bengal for their achievements in adventure sports was not given away this year because of the disasters. The award, given by the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA), was established in 2003 to mark the golden jubilee of Sir Hillary and Mr Norgay’s feat that they achieved on 29 May 1953. The prize comprising a trophy, a certificate and Rs 10,000 is given on Everest Day, celebrated on May 29 every year. The SJDA and the Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation (HNAF) have been jointly organising the programme here. While the cultural programme was cancelled this year, a silence was observed at the beginning of the function.

“We tried to make the programme this year short and simple due to the sad incidents,” HNAF programme coordinator Animesh Bose said.

Personalities who attended the programme, meanwhile, demanded that the government confer the Bharat Ratna on Mr Norgay.

SJDA board member and Rajganj MLA, Khageswar Roy, said he will raise the issue of the Norgay statue’s upkeep in the SJDA board meeting on 31 May.


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