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Queen Ganga Atal, noted social worker is no more
Rani Ganga Atal of esrtwhile Jaipur state passed away recently, she was a noted social worker closely associated with the SOS Children's Village movement.
A PRINCESS has passed away in Jaipur. Noted social worker and a part of the Jaipur state aristocracy, Ganga Atal, the daughter-in-law of the former Prime Minster of the erstwhile Jaipur state died in the wee hours of Tuesday,  October 6. Her son Ajai Atal and daughter in law Nandini, were with her at that time.
 
Her husband, Raja Jai Kumar Atal, was an ICS officer of the Central Provinces and had passed on recently. Mrs Atal, a nonagenarian, had been ailing for some time before her death.  A noted social worker, she had worked tirelessly for the cause of destitute women in Jaipur and set up the SOS Children’s village in Jaipur with the help of her late husband, who donated several acres of land for the cause of orphaned children. As her son Ajay Atal put it, "She was Ganga, the source of life to all of us and she became Dadi to a thousand children even before her first grandson Amar Tej was born." Her death marks the end of an era in Jaipur city.

In her condolence message, Congress President Sonia Gandhi wrote to her son Ajai that she could not imagine the terrible loss. “My thoughts are with you at this moment”, she wrote.

 
Rani Atal had a life that would have been the envy on anyone today. In her life, she met and interacted with several world leaders like King Constantine, Queen Elizabeth, his holiness the Pope, Haile Salassi of Ethiopia, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mrs Indira Gandhi. Hailing from a family of Allahabad her father, a senior and respected lawyer was the Minister of Justice of Patiala state.
 
She was married before Independence to Raja Jai Kumar Atal, who held several postings abroad and was related to Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, Mrs Indira Gandhi and to Lucknow's General Bubbles Habibullah, the late husband of Congress leader Begum Hamida Habibullah. 
 
It was always said that there were two queens in Jaipur. Rani Sahab Atal, as she was called, was the queen of Atal Ban, a sprawling 11 acre estate in the heart of Jaipur city, near the Railway station. Today, the Rajputana Sheraton Hotel, run by the ITC group has been built on this estate on a lease agreement.
 
Her husband held several important postings and was the Indian High Commissioner to Islamabad during the Bangladesh war of 1971. He was later the President of the special appeals commission of the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome. Before being sent to Pakistan, he was the Indian Ambassador in Italy.
 
Ganga Atal became the matriarch of a large family; her son Ajai has two sons, Amar Tej Atal and Anant Anand Atal and a daughter Devika Tankha.  Even today, the Atal family maintains a family tradition of flying the National Flag everyday but, on January 26 and August 15, when a special flag is flown. This flag was brought back from the High Commission in Islamabad by the Late Jai Kumar Atal when he was Prisoner of War in Pakistan during the Bangladesh war. On these two days this special flag flies in Atal Ban. 
 
It can truly be said for Ganga Atal that she had the spirit of a soldier and like all old soldiers she can never die.
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