Gandhian Natwar Thakkar as he was popularly known by his admirers breathed his last in Guwahati on October 7.

He was 86 and a recipient of the Padma Shree award. The veteran Gandhian is now survived by his Padmashri wife Lentina Ao, also a Gandhian and Padma Shree; two sons and two daughters.

Natwar Thakkar died due to brief illness. Thakkar had fallen ill on September 9 at Chuchuyimlang and was hospitalised in Dimapur. On September 19, he was shifted to Guwahati.

Though he showed signs of improvement initially, his health condition deteriorated on Saturday morning.

Thakkar, who hailed from Maharashtra, came to Nagaland in 1955 at the age of 23. During his arrival Naga insurgency movement was getting strengthened. Upon his arrival, militant groups asked villagers not to give him shelter or food. Over half-a-century later, villagers honoured him with the “Lifetime Service to Naga People” award.

Padma Shree Natwar Thakkar’s work in Nagaland included vocational training for school dropouts and physically handicapped, primary schools in villages, medical centres and libraries.

He helped people earn a livelihood by engaging in apiculture and jaggery-making and by setting up oil mills, bio-gas plants, mechanised carpentry shops and khadi sales counters.

After serving the state for 86 years, the remote village of Chuchuyimlang which he chose as his home now has a telephone exchange, a post office, a government hospital, water supply, a branch of the State Bank of India and a government high school.

His 62-year-old ashram at Chuchuyimlang village now draws visitors from across the country and occasionally from abroad.