Monday, September 7, 2015

Rishi Shankar: A tribute from Indo-Fijian community in Auckland



The Indo Fijian community was saddened to know about the passing away of an old pillar of Indo Fijian community in Auckland, Lawyer Rishi Shankar. 

He hailed from a small hilly, dusty village in Lautoka, between Ba and Lautoka- in Qalitu, (Vitogo) Lautoka. He joined Fiji Police Force in 1950s and rose to the position of Police Prosecutor, working under the guidance of former Police Commissioner, P.U Raman. While still at police force, he did his law degree in New Zealand, and returned to head the Police Training School in Nasese, Suva. Upon retirement, he went into private law practice, in partnership with a prominent Ba lawyer, G. P. Shankar, and later opened his own office in Nadi.

Rishi Shankar: A well-liked community person, very friendly, likable and generous.
He later went into politics and was a National Federation Party (NFP) candidate in the ill-fated Bavadra Government of 1987. As the Lady Luck would be on his side, for some reason, he was not present in the fateful day, and fateful time in Fiji Parliament, when Sitiveni Rabuka committed treason at 10am, which we call the original 1987 coup.  He later flew to New Zealand and informed the government here about situation in Fiji. Since then, he has settled in Mt Wellington, Auckland and operated his law firm.

Rishi Shankar – an individual with a Golden Luck, Golden Heart and Golden Smile, is no more, but his memories will linger with us. A close friend of Rishi Shankar, Master Shiu Charan pays tribute to his friend. 
Shankar had Golden Luck, because for some reason, he was not present in Fiji Parliament when Rabuka executed the original coup, hence he was able to travel to NZ and seek support for a movement against the coup. He had Golden Heart because he was very compassionate about helping religious and social organisations. He had a Golden Smile, as he was so dear, and pleasant to all, with a very contagious friendly disposition.
Shankar’s relative, family friend and political colleague, Master Shiu Charan, who provided the information on him, was really saddened with the departure of his another friend. This was so soon after passing away of another NFP and religious and social colleague, Pundit Devakar Prasad, within a period of less than six months.

“I am really saddened by the passing away of my dear friend who has always been a friendly individual, with a very pleasant disposition. He has been such a nice and well-liked person from his days in the police force where he was popular with colleagues and friends, and still so, until his death” Master Shiu Charan said. He added that Shankar was also a community oriented person who always has a soft spot for religious and community organisations.
Rishi Shankar (extreme left) sharing meal with Dr Shamshud Deal Sahu Khan (centre) and Nek Mohammed,  at Fiji Girmit Foundation of NZ's Girmit Day at Skipton Hall, Auckland in May, 2014

In his capacity as a Trustee of Shri Ram Mandir Charitable Trust and as President and Trustee of Fiji Girmit Foundation, Master Shiu Charan paid tribute to generosity of Shankar. “He was one of the first there donors who kicked off Ram Mandir’s fundraising campaign on 30 October, 2014 with a big donation. He has also been in the forefront to commemorate the memories of his forebear Girmitiyas in our successive Girmit Remembrance Day. He gave moral and financial support to community organisations.” said Charan.

Trustees of Shri Ram Mandir Charitable Trust and Fiji Girmit Foundation of New Zealand join with other Indo Fijians and well-wishers to pray for the family and salvation and peace for his soul. He will be dearly missed by all in the community. May his soul rest in peace.

[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh runs his blog site, FIJI PUNDIT. He is also a Trustee and Secretary of Fiji Girmit Foundation of NZ, where Shankar was an active supporter]