Meghalaya bids adieu to oldest woman

Shillong: The mortal remains of Meghalaya's oldest woman and first Padmashree awardee, 103 year-old Silverine Swer was on Monday laid to rest in full honour according to Christian rituals here where thousands had turned up for her final rites.

Swer's body draped in traditional Khasi attire was put in a closed coffin after her family members and loved ones paid final tributes to the departed soul.

The funeral service began at 1 pm at her 'step phynai' home in Riat Samthiah before her body was buried according to Christian ritual at the Mission Compound cemetery.

Governor K K Paul in his condolence message said, "The state has lost a sterling personality."

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma while condoling her death said, "A pioneer in every field, Kong Silverine has led from the front setting milestones galore worth emulating by one and all. She remains a source of strength and motivation to all who strive to serve."

A veteran who saw four wars - the two great World Wars and the two wars involving India - the Indo Chinese war and the Bangladesh liberation war - Kong Sil (as she is known) was born on November 12, 1910, a few years after the 1897 earthquake rocked Shillong.

She did her schooling from Welsh Mission Girls School and after which she attended the Scottish Church College, Calcutta and finished her degree in 1932 before serving in various capacities at different government and non-government organisations besides teaching in different schools in Arunachal Pradesh (the erstwhile North Eastern Frontier Agency).

In 1938, she was appointed as the local adviser-cum-trainer of Girl Guides movement and imparted training at schools in Assam, Bangladesh and Mizoram.

Kong Sil had served as the assistant controller of rationing during World War II under the Assam government from a period from 1944 to 1949 during which she was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind medal by the Government for her efficiency and integrity while handling the rationing system and for service to the Guides movement in Assam in 1946.