Guwahati: The All India Women Conference (AIWC) on Thursday issued an unconditional apology to the Gorkha community over “insensitive” and “irresponsible” remarks by its member Chandra Prabha Pandey, who barred a patriotic performance by the Kalimpong-based artists of the community at an ‘Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav’ event stating that “Nepali/Gorkha Bhasa’ is a non-Indian language”.

EastMojo reported on Thursday the massive outrage and backlash over the AIWC member’s comments and rejection of Gorkha artists as ‘non-Indian’. Later on Thursday, AIWC officials issued an audio apology to the Gorkha community, which was followed by a written one.

An apology letter by the All India Women Conference, signed by its president Sheila Kakde and secretary general Kuljit Kaur, said the remarks by one of its members did not reflect the views of the organisation, which has over one lakh members across the country.

In its statement, the AIWC added that in an emergency meeting of its members held on Thursday, Chandra Prabha Pandey was directed to tender an unconditional apology even as the AIWC has relieved her from all the assigned responsibilities.

Sikkim chief minister Prem Singh Golay commented on the issue on Friday, saying: “It is shocking and disheartening to know about the recent statement made by one of the representatives of All India Women Conference (AIWC) for rejecting performances of artistes in Nepali language, terming it “non-Indian”. Nepali language is spoken by 1.5 crores Indians and is recognized under the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution and such statements have deeply hurt the sentiment of the entire Nepali speaking community.”

Related | Massive outrage after AIWC rejects Gorkha artists as ‘non Indian’

The AIWC, on its part, said the remarks made by the member were not authorised nor approved by the organisation and “she herself was solely responsible for the same”.

“We all love and respect our most patriotic citizens, Gurkha brethren. We all are aware of the history of their sacrifice for the nation… The beautiful Nepali language is very much a part of our national language introduced in VIII schedule of the Constitution 1992. We strongly oppose and condemn the ignorance shown by the member. On behalf of AIWC, we extend unconditional apology to our Gurkha brothers.”

Speaking to EastMojo, Dr. Munish Tamang, National President of Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh said, “We accept the apology sent to us over email in their official letterhead and the handwritten apology note of the member concerned. We also heard the apology voice note sent to us. Parisangh analysed the clarifications and accepted an apology from the nine and half decades old organisation working for women’s empowerment and upliftment of society and country.”

He added that the Gorkha body has now decided call off all proposed legal action related to the matter.

Appreciating the apology from AIWC, Darjeeling MP Raju Bista took to social media, saying: “I am also happy to note that they have taken action against the member concerned and made her issue a handwritten apology note.”

“I request the Gorkha community across our nation to remain united in protesting against any and all acts of racism. We should never allow any individual or organization to demean our glorious community. In the past many such derogatory statements have gone unchallenged, because of which our people have been subjected to racist taunts and discrimination time and again. But we will not tolerate such acts of discrimination and racism any more. We are the new age Gorkhas who are very aware and assured of our place in history, and the contributions and sacrifices our people have made towards our nation building. We are second to none,” wrote the Gorkha MP, who is also the national spokesperson of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

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