Nagaland state Forest Minister C.M. Chang (right) is seen with India's Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. Chang, a Naga Christian leader and former parliamentarian, died from Covid-19 on Oct. 12. (Photo supplied)
Nagaland state in eastern India has declared two days of state mourning on Oct. 13-14 to grieve the death of Forest Minister C.M. Chang, a popular Christian leader and former parliamentarian.
The 77-year-old was admitted to a hospital with suspected typhoid but tested positive for Covid-19. He died on Oct. 12, doctors said. He had also been suffering from diabetes and hypertension.
The bureaucrat-turned-politician was elected to the Indian parliament as a lone member from the small state of Nagaland in 2009 and continued until 2012 before returning to provincial politics.
Christians dominate Nagaland state, where 90 percent of its some 2 million people are Christians, mostly Baptists.
In the past six months, since Covid-19 cases were reported in the state, only 17 people have died of the infection. The state had recorded 7,019 cases as of Oct. 12.
Chang was a pioneering civil servant from the remote Tuensang area adjoining Myanmar and worked to better the people's lives in his less developed district.
During his younger days, he was a popular student leader and took up causes for his Chang people, a subtribe of the Naga tribe.
A jovial person, Chang sported a mustache in an unusual manner and often jokingly claimed that it was his "fashion statement."
In his condolence message, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Chang was experienced in areas of administration and policy, first as a bureaucrat and later as a political leader.
"He worked hard for Nagaland's progress. Condolences to his family and friends," Modi said.
Meanwhile, India's Covid-19 tally went past 7.17 million with 66,732 fresh cases on Oct. 12. Nationwide, the death toll climbed to 109,150.
Last month junior federal Railway Minister Suresh Angadi died from Covid-19.