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Tenzing son laments Nepal cold shoulder

Darjeeling, Feb. 10: Glory, honour and fame were for Tenzing Norgay Sherpa’s taking after his historic feat of setting foot on the world’s highest peak half a century ago. But the status of a national hero eluded him in life, and death.

Months before the golden jubilee celebrations called by the Nepal government to honour the first summiteers, Norgay’s son Jamling Tenzing Sherpa spoke on Nepal’s reluctance to declare his father a national hero, “even though the Nepal Mountaineering Association had demanded that more than a year ago”.

“We are not bothered whether the Nepal government accords him the status or not. For the citizens, my father will always remain hamro Tenzing (our Tenzing),” Jamling said.

Some say Norgay’s decision to become an Indian citizen despite being a Nepali is the reason Kathmandu is unwilling to honour him. Others, however, believe his inability to “give back” to Nepal, like Hillary, by building schools and hospitals, was the primary reason for Nepal’s cool. “The dust will never settle on this controversy,” Jamling said.

“It is true that Hillary came back and built hospitals and schools for the community but even my father contributed immensely by helping hundreds of Sherpas get jobs. He put aside a tidy sum and helped those Sherpa families whose members were claimed by the peak. My father could not build schools and hospitals as he was not educated and he lost out on publicity because of his humility,” he added.

“It seems the officials have forgotten the day of May 29, 1953, when my father planted Nepal’s flag on the peak,” said Jamling, who completed his studies from the US.

The successful ascent to the summit was Norgay’s seventh attempt. Jamling conquered the peak in 1996, as the leader of the team that filmed David Breashear’s film, Everest.

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