Writes- Subroto Basu
Any movement in the world, whatever maybe it’s agenda, when becomes truly public, the wise sit up and acknowledge. Because if ignored, it turns out to be a revolution. One may agree or disagree, but Gorkhaland has already become a movement of people. It has become a revolution.
What is Gorkhaland all about? The Gorkhaland Movement was never against Bengal, nor is it hatred against Bengalis.
This is a revolution for the identity of #Gorkhas, this is a about a dream which people of mountain have lived with for last 4 decades. Gorkhaland movement was never restricted to achieve ONLY development of hills and its people, it was primarily meant to give Gorkhas the true identity that they deserve, within the constitution of India. GTA was, to put it very modestly, a prostitute’s compromise. I shall postmortem GTA and it’s leaders later in this article. But let us first understand what was the infamous Article 7 and how did it create the identity crisis for Gorkhas. I am taking a cue from Manoj Giri.
Post independence, India entered into an infamous treaty with Nepal in 1950 - The Treaty of Peace and Friendship. The Article 7 of this Treaty reads: “The Government of India and Nepal agree to grant on a reciprocal basis to the national of one country in the territory of another the same privileges in the matter of residence, ownership of properties, participation in trade and commerce, movement and other privileges of similar nature”.
This treaty ambiguates the citizenship of the Indian Gorkhas, and it led to the loss of their Indian Identity. It makes a Gorkha’s Indian citizenship a reciprocal one. The present Gorkhaland movement is a search and fight for this lost identity.
Now let us try to understand why would Bengalis want to oppose this movement?
Bengalis are a celebrated class. They worship their mother tongue like goddess, in word and in spirit. On 21st February 1952, the students of Dhaka University - Mohammad Salauddin, Abdul Jabbar, Abul Barkat, Rafiquddin Ahmed and Abdus Salam did something which changed the history forever. They sacrificed their lives for their mother language. Today 21st February is declared by UNESCO as International Mother Language Day. My chest is puffed with pride. But the immediate following question that comes to my mind is, if I respect my mother language as goddess, why do I not respect the mother language of Nepalis? Why do I want to forcefully impose Bengali on Nepali speaking people? Does it not remind me of the situation pre 1952 when Pakistan Government forced us Bengalis to speak in Urdu and we stood up in sheer defiant rage and created a river of our own blood? The world witnessed in awe, with their eyes wide open in disbelief…and a new chapter was written in the pages of world history with golden words…!!!
Then why such double-faced approach for someone else’s mother language? Should I conclude that most of the Bengalis are opposing the movement of Gorkhaland because either they are not aware of the true mission of the movement & misguided by paid media, or they are afraid to lose Bengali dominated areas like Siliguri etc to Gorkhaland? If the answer is yes, then the think tank of the Gorkhaland movement will have to take the responsibility to educate them, clear the doubts and form larger public opinion in favor of Gorkhaland.
There are reasons why I am saying this. I receive reports of tens of thousands of people marching the roads of Siliguri against Gorkhaland. This is exactly what Mamata Banerjee wants. She wants to use the tool of Gorkhaland to win the 2019 election…!!!
Let’s understand that there is a much bigger game at play, the game of politics. Let’s look at Option One – separate Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong from Bengal to form Gorkhaland. What does Mamata lose – one MP seat which was in any case not a TMC seat. What does Mamata gain? She showcases BJP as the main villain for dividing Bengal and wins complete trust of the Bengali voters in the rest 41 MP seats.
Why do you think BJP would knowingly want to divide Bengal and become a proclaimed villain in the eyes of the Bengali voters in the 41 MP seats? They would not. If you have closely watched the mewing down of the voice of Dilip Ghosh within 24 hours, you would realize he must have been whipped by his super bosses sitting in Delhi. As an alternative arrangement, BJP will offer higher power, spending authority and autonomy to Bimal Gurung and team. If I put my ear to the power corridors of the parliament, they are already negotiating this with Roshan Giri. Mark my words, Bimal and Roshan will come back to you with a compromised model and again sell off your dream.
In my previous article I described Bimal Gurung as a cheater and fraudster who compromised with the dream of the people of mountain and profiteered from the deal. Many objected. I have few basic questions for them:
When people were facing bullets in Singmari, why was Bimal Gurung hiding? And why is he still hiding? Is he really so afraid of arrest? Why in the first place is he absent from the GMCC meeting?
Bimal Gurung is charged with the murder of Madan Tamang. He is also charged with Singmari killings and instigating riot. Court has ordered to prepare charge sheet against him. Have you ever wondered why is Mamata with her entire machinery and intelligence agencies, not being able to nab Bimal? Is he Osama Bin Laden? Or is Mamata willingly avoiding arrest of Bimal because she doesn’t want to make a hero out of him? Or are they keeping the doors of bargain open?
Meanwhile stand-up comedian Roshan Giri appears in NDTV to stage an extremely poor representation of the case of Gorkhaland. The world saw a mockery of a precious dream on the television.
There are also different thoughts relating to the actual map and geographic boundary of Gorkhaland. To my mind, Gorkhaland should be formed based on two things A] Language – It should include areas where Nepali speaking people are dominant B] Geography – mountains, the natural habitat of Gorkhas. Conclusively forming Gorkhaland with Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong, looks feasible. When I said this, some vehemently protested. They said we have a different map which includes Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar as well. For a moment I thought I watch watching Kapil Sharma Show.
At the cost of sounding bitterly hostile, I strongly recommend that the GMCC spokesperson should announce the proposed geographic boundary of Gorkhaland which should not include Siliguri and other parts of plain like Birpara and Malbazar. This one act will kill 70-80% of hostility and opposition from Bengalis. Let’s not make fun of the movement by dreaming to include Siliguri and other parts of plain like Birpara and Malbazar in Gorkhaland, it will not only defer the realization Gorkhaland, it will become a day dream.
The positives of the movement
1. It has become truly public and does not need a leader any more
2. Gorkhas from all quarters are uniting, for the first time, for a cause
3. Nation has heard the noise
The challenges of the movement
1. We have dearth of leaders who can speak in media, participate in national debates and present the case of Gorkhaland in front of the whole nation. Poor show in media by the self appointed leaders is making the movement lose its momentum.
2. You have to learn to use social media more responsibly. A section of irresponsible people are already misusing the social media by uploading abusive videos, fake photos etc and thus earning a bad name for the movement. Remember momentum is the life of a movement. Any wrong step may kill the momentum
3. Mamata will step up the pressure by stopping state government staff’s salary, supply of ration etc. You need to have a strong back up plan to survive the oppression
4. While I respect your decision to continue indefinite strike, it is indeed a tough decision and extremely difficult to continue for a long period. Are people in hills really with us on this? Sending videos from Nepal, Bhutan and Assam is very easy. But living right there in Darjeeling and going to bed hungry every night is not so easy.
5. The democratic ways of revolutions like Street Plays, songs etc are missing. These bring in more folks and keep the momentum high. Let the student section take this up.
6. This has to be an inclusive movement and not an exclusive movement – I do not wish to elaborate more on the last point and rest my case to the reason and wit of the Gorkhas.
[ File Photo]