Guwahati: Sikkim’s war hero Ganju Lama has finally got his due. To commemorate his sacrifice, the courage and valour shown by him in driving away Japanese soldiers during World War II, the people of Sikkim are now planning to set up a museum and honour the war legend.
“The construction work is already underway. A statue of Lt Ganju Lama will be installed at the museum. Work on the statue is also underway. The statue and the museum would be inaugurated on July 22, the legend’s birthday,” DD Bhutia, the brains behind the project and a former minister of Sikkim, told EastMojo.
Lama was born in Sangmo, southern Sikkim. His real name was Gyamtso Shangderpa, but a clerk in the recruiting office of the British Gurkha Army wrote it down as Ganju, and the name stayed on. This happened when he got enlisted in British Gurkha Army in 1942 at the age of 17 years. The following year, he joined the 1st Battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles of the Indian Army.
Lama was barely 19 years old when showed exemplary courage and fought valiantly during World War II saving his fellow soldiers as they came under heavy firing from the Japanese army. Seeing his battalion under fire, Lama picked up his PIAT (a British man-portable anti-tank weapon developed during the World War II), surged ahead and succeeded in bringing the gun into action within 30 yards of the Japanese enemy tanks, knocking out two of them. All these despite he having a broken wrist and suffering from other serious injuries to both his hands. He agreed to leave the battleground and get his wounds nursed only after gunning down several soldiers on the enemy side.
He was honoured with the Victoria Cross for his act of valour. The Victoria Cross is displayed at the Gurkha Museum in Winchester, England. Lama has been awarded the Military Medal too.
Lama’s act of heroism has even found mention in the London Gazette published in 1944.
After India gained its independence, Lama joined the Indian 11th Indian Gorkha Rifles.
After his retirement in 1968, he took to farming in his home state. He was appointed honorary ADC to the President of India for life.
Till date, no memorial has been set up to honour the war legend. The museum would be the first one.