Meghalaya mourns Kyndiah death - Government announces state funeral in Shillong tomorrow

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By Our Correspondent
  • Published 28.03.15

P.R. Kyndiah

Shillong, March 27: Former Union minister and veteran Congress politician Paty Ripple Kyndiah passed away here late last night.

Kyndiah, one of the Hill State Movement leaders who went on to occupy various positions in his long political career, was 86. His funeral will take place on Sunday at the cemetery of the Church of North India (All Saint's Diocese) near the Rhino Hall junction here.

Kyndiah was admitted to Bethany Hospital last evening and passed away at 11.40pm following a cardiac arrest. Born on May 7, 1928, Kyndiah is survived by two daughters, three sons and a host of grandchildren.

The Meghalaya government today announced that a state funeral would be accorded to him on Sunday and declared a three-day state mourning beginning today. During this period, there will be no official entertainment and the Tricolour will be flown at half-mast at all government establishments throughout the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief at the passing away of Kyndiah and extended his condolences to the bereaved family. "The Prime Minister described Kyndiah as a popular leader who worked tirelessly for Meghalaya and the Northeast," an official communiqué stated.

The Meghalaya PCC today met at Congress Bhavan to condole Kyndiah's death. Senior Congress leaders, including PCC president D.D. Lapang, former chief minister Salseng C. Marak and others took part in the condolence meeting. "The meeting, while paying glorious tributes to Kyndiah, recalled how he, as one of the veteran leaders of the Hill State Movement, had contributed to the creation of the state," a communiqué from the PCC stated.

Lapang recalled his personal association with Kyndiah and placed on record various contributions of the former Union minister not only in the socio-political scenario of the state and the region, but also his contribution as a writer.

The meeting also observed two minutes' silence, and prayed for peace of the departed soul.

In a statement, National People's Party (NPP) legislator James K. Sangma said, "We are deeply saddened by his (Kyndiah) demise, which is a great loss for Meghalaya. (Late) Kyndiah was and always will be one of the tallest leaders Meghalaya has ever produced. We wish to convey our heartfelt prayers for the bereaved family."

In the UPA-I government (2004-2009), Kyndiah was the DoNER and Union tribal affairs minister. He was the second from Meghalaya and the first among the Khasi-Jaintia community to have held the post of Mizoram Governor from 1993-1998. He was also the first among the community to become Union cabinet minister.

Kyndiah had piloted the bill that later became the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (reorganisation of forest rights) Act, 2006 in Parliament.

Before joining the Congress, Kyndiah was office-bearer of the then All Party Hill Leaders Conference (APHLC) as its general secretary and chief organiser of the Non-Violent Direct Action Corps to demand for the creation of a separate state.

In 1962, he was elected municipal ward commissioner, Shillong under the then composite state of Assam while from 1967 to 1972 he was re-elected to the civic body and became its chairman. In 1970-1972, Kyndiah had served the Meghalaya Provisional Assembly following his election through an electoral college.

From 1972 until 1993, he was an elected member of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, and held the post of cabinet minister on several occasions.

From 1979-1981, he was Leader of the Opposition and in 1987, he was acting chief minister of the state. From 1989 to 1993, he held the office of Speaker of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.

He was sworn in as Mizoram Governor in February 1993 and demitted the office in January 1998 to contest the 1998 Lok Sabha polls.

Kyndiah was first elected to the Lok Sabha in February 1998, representing Shillong parliamentary constituency. He was re-elected in October 1999, and again in 2004. He had served as chairman of the Northeast MPs' Forum from 1998-2009. He retired from active politics few months before the 2009 parliamentary polls.

As a programme compere of All India Radio, Shillong, for more than a decade since 1948, Kyndiah initiated steps to revive folk music.

In the 1960s, he was the vice-chairman of the Assam Co-operative Apex Bank Ltd., and later, as the founding chairman of the Meghalaya Co-operative Apex Bank Ltd. He was also the chairman of the Shillong Co-operative Urban Bank, Meghalaya Co-operative Marketing Federation, founding chairman Indian Red Cross Society (Meghalaya State Branch).

Besides his political work, Kyndiah had authored nine books: Jawaharlal Nehru: The Thinking Dynamo, Meghalaya Yesterday and Today, Journey of Words, J.J.M. Nichols Roy: Architect of District Council Autonomy, Mizo Freedom Fighters, Walk With Me (on the virtues of walking, which was released by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2008), Incredible Tribes of India and No Hill State No Rest.