One of the widely respected figures of journalism and education in Northeast India, Santosh Nirash of Sikkim passed away on June 10 at the age of 92.
She was one of the pioneers of women journalists in the entire eastern India when she started journalism in 1940.
Nirash was suffering from prolonged old age related illness and died peacefully at her residence in Gangtok, family sources said.
She was also the founder member of Press Club of Sikkim (PCS) and was the advisor of the organization till date. Her main forte in journalism was to explore and write stories and news on various social and developmental issues.
After the demise of her husband PS Nirash who was also a known journalist and editor of Hindi weekly publication, Jamana Sadabahar, Nirash took up as the editor of the weekly. She also contributed to radio through regular broadcasts on All India Radio, Gangtok.
Through her interventions she also extended a helping hand to many helpless women and children of Sikkim.
“Known for her energy and passion for work, Maaji was a source of inspiration to all the journalists of the state. She was not only a journalist but also a social worker and a philanthropist. A chapter in the history of journalism in Sikkim has come to an end. Her demise is a great loss not only for the media fraternity, but for the entire state of Sikkim,” said PCS president Joseph Lepcha.
He added, “Press Club of Sikkim offers its deepest condolences to the bereaved family and prayers for the departed soul. May her soul rest in peace!”
Popularly known as ‘Maaji’, Nirash was born on October 3 in 1928 at Pind Dodan Khan, Punjab, Pakistan.
She was decorated with the number of prestigious awards like Khangchendzonga Kalam Puraskar, Sikkim Sewa Samman (Journalism), Nirman Puraskar and Kashiraj Pradhan Lifetime journalism Award by the government of Sikkim among others.
She also inspired many girls to take journalism in the male dominated profession, especially in smaller cities.
“By the time I started my career as a journalist, Maa ji was no longer working due to her illness. Her aura, positive attitude towards life and love for her passion was highly inspiring. It looked like she never retired from journalism. It was just her sickness holding her back. As a woman journalist working in this profession is often challenging as its highly male dominated and you got to work even in odd hours but I always took Maa ji as an inspiration, if she could do in an era where women were killed just for being born as one then why can’t I that too in a place (Sikkim) where girl child is considered as a blessing. Though I never got an opportunity to work with her but her blessing was with me always,” Dichen Ongmu, a journalist with Sikkim Express told The News Mill.