Showing posts with label Gorkha NRC issue. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gorkha NRC issue. Show all posts

TMC supporter who had called Jai Shree Ram a ‘call of terror’ now calls Gorkhas ‘infiltrators’ on national TV

6:20 PM
TMC
While opposing implementation of National Register of Citizens in the state of West Bengal, political analyst and TMC supporter Tanvi Das ended up terming the Gorkhas as ‘infiltrators’ during a panel discussion on a TV channel.
While addressing a rally in Kolkata on October 1, Home Minister Amit Shah had said that the government will implement NRC in West Bengal. He had said that before implementing NRC, the centre will pass the Citizenship Amendment Bill first so that people who should get Indian Citizenship will get it. Amit Shah had alleged that Mamata Banerjee is spreading a lie that millions of Hindus will have to leave West Bengal if NRC is implemented. He said that people of Bengal were misled on NRC, and he wanted to clarify and clear all doubts.
TMC supporter who had called Jai Shree Ram a ‘call of terror’ now calls Gorkhas ‘infiltrators’ on national TV

In the backdrop of Amit Shah’s remarks, News channel TV9 Bharatvarsh had hosted a panel discussion on the issue on 1stOctober. Political anylist Tanvi Das present in the panel on behalf of TMC, who rejected the claims made by Amit Shah and strongly opposed the NRC in Bengal.
During the heated debate on NRC and CAB, Tanvi Das made a shocking statement saying that Gorkhas are also illegal infiltrators, and questioned BJP spokesperson R P Singh for supporting the Gorkhas. “Gorkhas are also illegal infiltrators. Deport the Gorkhas, why are you supporting the Gorkhaland”, the TMC supporter said during the debate. She said that Gorkhas entered India by crossing the border illegally.
It is interesting to note that nobody in the panel reacted to the Tanvi’s comment, as they were involved in a heated argument over NRC, and probably didn’t hear what she was saying. The anchor Samir Abbas also didn’t react to the same.
The comment of Tanvi Das is totally wrong, because Gorkhas are not illegal immigrants in India. Gorkhas are living in several states of India for several decades, before the independence of India. They are known as India Gorkhas, as opposed to Nepalese Gorkhas, and after the independence of India, they were granted citizenship by a gazette notification of government of India.
Moreover, even the Gorkhas that entered India after that can’t be deported as they are protected by the Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship signed in 1950. This treaty provides citizens of one country same privileges in terms of residence, property, trade and commerce, movement etc in the other country on a reciprocal basis.

Via Opindia 

Understanding NRC: A Politically Neutral Perspective

8:27 AM
Writes: Phinjo Wangyal Gurung

"Writing is not just a form of divertissement but a healing process that soothes a perturbed and stressful mind, rejuvenates your spirit, and brings you back to life."
National Register of Citizens of India
National Register of Citizens of India - Wikipedia

An atmosphere of dubiety seems to have taken over the hills ever since the announcement that once BJP forms government at the center it will Implement National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout India. People are muddled about how NRC will affect the Indian Gorkhas in real time. Contrary to the popular belief, NRC will have a definite impact on the Indian Gorkhas unless certain conditions and safeguards are met. Here in this small write up I will try and dissect NRC from a political neutral viewpoint bringing out only those facts that are related to NRC along with its implications on the Indian Gorkhas once implemented.

What is NRC?
The National Register of Citizens is a register containing the names of all the genuine Indian citizens, it was first prepared in 1951 for Assam. NRC draws its power from the Citizenship Act of 1955 and the Rules framed therein. The main objective of preparing the register is to identify illegal immigrants as foreigners and deport them back to their countries.

Issues Related with NRC
(1) The Question of Immunity
After the publication of the first draft of NRC in Assam last year about 40 lakh people were identified as illegal migrants and were excluded from NRC for various reasons, including some 1,50,000 Gorkhas, despite the fact that BJP had promised that Gorkhas living in Assam would not be excluded. Amit Shah recently made a similar promise from Kalimpong that the Gorkhas living in Darjeeling Hills will not be excluded from NRC. With BJPs protracted and strained history of breaking the Gorkhas trust and faith, only time will tell if he is really going to walk the talk this time.

Once excluded from NRC, the person ceases to be a citizen of India. He will no longer be entitled to the rights guaranteed to an Indian Citizen under the constitution and law including the right to vote. The implementation of NRC should not be taken daintily, it is an issue of profound importance with far-reaching consequence as the fate and citizenship rights of lakh of India Gorkhas is at stake here. Immunity, therefore, becomes a matter of paramount concern for all the Indian Gorkhas.

The question now arises as to why about 1,50,000 Indian Gorkhas were excluded from the register in Assam (similar exclusion can happen in Darjeeling) despite the fact that NDA government had assured them that Gorkhas living in Assam will not be touched by NRC. The answer to this question lies in the Citizenship Act of 1955.

It should be noted that NRC draws its power and authority from the Citizenship Act of 1955, therefore, any question of Immunity can only be granted through an act of Parliament by amending the Citizenship Act . Verbal assurances given at the time of the election in the election manifesto, which itself has no legal support is inutile.

The NDA Government had brought a Bill i.e. Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 which had granted immunity from being declared an illegal immigrant to persons belonging to Hindus, Buddhist, Jains, and Sikhs coming from Bangladesh and Pakistan, however, the said Bill did not mention Indian Gorkhas.  To add insult to injury the Bill did not see the light of the day and died its natural death in the Rajya Sabha. For an Ordinary Bill to be passed into a law it has to be passed by both the houses of the parliament with a simple majority. BJP led NDA still does not have the required numbers in the Rajya Sabha. Although it commands an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha it is still a minority in the Rajya Sabha. Rajya Sabha is BJPs Achilles Heel. This is the reason why the names of thousands of Indian Gorkhas living in Assam were struck of the National  Register on some flimsy grounds. Despite lofty promises being made the promises were not backed by law. As the commitment lacked legal support it could not be implemented therefore the fate and citizenship rights of thousands of Indian Gorkhas living in Assam still hangs in limbo.

A similar situation is brewing up in Darjeeling, only verbal assurances have been given by the party president. The Bill as it stands today, still does not specifically mention ” Indian Gorkhas”. Even if somehow the party manages to include Indian Gorkhas in the Citizenship Amendment Bill, there is no guarantee that the Bill will pass as BJP is a minority in Rajya Sabha and does not command enough support to pass an Ordinary  Bill in one go. Therefore implementing NRC in Darjeeling without specific legal immunity to the INDIAN GORKHAS is suicidal.

(2) Documentation and related matters
It has been found that the names of many persons in Assam were dropped from the draft NRC only because of minor differences in the spellings of Bengali names into English in different documents.  Several instances were encountered where a single letter variation, for example, “Omar” and “Onar”, was enough to rule that a person was a foreigner. I now ask how many of us in Darjeeling are not facing similar problems? How many of us have all their and the names of their family members correctly spelled in all their documents? To be honest I don’t. If that be the case my name along with the names of my family members will be struck off the NRC if implemented.

Likewise the rural unlettered are typically vague about their date of birth. A person could be excluded from the register if he/she told the NRC tribunal 40 when the documents recorded to be 42.

Rural uneducated women are especially in danger of exclusion from the citizenship register.  Most of them have no birth certificates, are not sent to schools and are married before they become adults, therefore, by the time their names first appear in the voters list these are in a different village where they live after marriage, which is different from those of their parents. They are told by the NRC tribunal that they have no documents to prove that they are indeed the children of the people they claim are their parents. There were cases in ASSAM of being excluded from the citizenship register on this ground alone.

(3) Opaque Process
NRC empowers the Assam police to identify anyone it suspects as foreigners and illegal migrants. How many of us can repose 100% faith and vouch that the police force works with impeccable integrity? If the police are granted such wide powers don’t you think that such power can be abused? Anyone can be picked up by the police on flimsy ground and be declared a foreigner anytime.

The police have also been empowered to refer the cases to a Foreigners Tribunal(FT). It has been alleged that the Tribunals are not presided by judges but by lawyers and in some cases by persons with no legal knowledge, who were appointed by the party.

Moreover, it has also been alleged that the police and the presiding officers in FTs( foreigners tribunal ) work just to fulfill the targets that are set by the party and not to dispense justice.

Not to mention the enormous amount of money one needs to spend fighting these legal cases in the Tribunals proving ones citizenship once declared a foreigner or an illegal migrant under NRC.

(4) The Question of Double Jeopardy
Article 20(2) of the constitution guarantees to every citizen the right not to be prosecuted and punished for the same offense more than once as a fundamental Right. But this principle has been waived off for Foreigners Tribunals(FT). It has been found that even after an FT had confirmed a citizen of India another FT and at times the same FT can again send notice to the same person to prove his citizenship once again. This is a direct violation of Article 20(2) as guaranteed by the constitution of India.

With the entire burden of proving citizenship on one’s shoulders and the arbitrary and opaque multiple forums to which one will be summoned, people deprived of education and resource will be caught in a maze of bureaucratic red tape from which they will find it hard to emerge. There are indeed few parallels in the world where the state itself produces statelessness on the scale and manner that it is doing in Assam and soon in the Hill areas of Darjeeling. Political parties advocating NRC in Darjeeling should exercise caution and do so only after an in-depth analysis of ground realities, after taking into confidence all the stakeholder without which the future and Citizenship Rights of thousands of Indian Gorkhas living in the area could be jeopardized once and for all.

Via The DC

ELECTION 2019: NRC, the latest talking point

3:11 PM
Writes NN Ojha

BJP chief Amit Shah’s declaration in Alipurduar on 29 March that NRC will be implemented in West Bengal if BJP came to power has  ignited a debate about how NRC might impact people in Darjeeling hills. The debate has further intensified after Prime Minister Modi repeated his party chief’s statement during his public address in Jalpaiguri on 3 April. While doing so PM assured that the exercise will not harm the Gorkhas in any way. He however avoided saying if it would bring any benefits to the Gorkha. As expected TMC chief Mamta Banerjee took no time in countering the BJP leadership’s statements adding that NRC is a political ploy of BJP to cause dissensions in society and coupled with the Citizens Amendment Bill (CAB) 2016 the scheme makes their communal agenda clear.

In an polarised political atmosphere combined with soon to be held elections debates often tend to be reduced to canvassing and propaganda  for or against the parties in the fray.  The debate on NRC sparked off by Amit Shah and Narendra Modi is no exception.

Preparation, establishment and maintenance of a ‘National Register of Indian Citizens’ (NRC) is provided for in The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issuing of National Identity Cards) Rules originally framed in 1956 as last amended in July 2003. Rule 3(1) of these rules mandates the Registrar General of Citizens Registration ‘to establish and maintain NRC for the whole of India’, not selectively for any particular state or UT

Two questions arise; one, if NRC is mandated for the whole of India why do Amit Shah or Narenfra Modi single out West Bengal for its introduction repeatedly and second, Is the NRC capable of yielding results as per its stated objectives. For examining both these questions we will have to look to the ongoing exercise on NRC in Assam.

In spite of applicability of NRC all over the country Assam is the only state to have had it introduced way back in 1951. The reasons for this exception are in Assam’s  peculiar historical background. The state has had problem of immigrants ever since it was ceded to the  British colonial rulers by the Burmese rulers in 1826.  Alarm bells were rung for the first time in 1931 when CS Mullen Superintendent of Census reported about ‘invasion by hordes of land-hungry immigrants on Assam in the last 25 years that could destroy the whole structure of Assamese culture and civilisation’. The problem  persisted even after independence with an added dimension of national security after the partition of India. As a result an Assam specific legislation, Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act 1950 was passed by the Parliament and Assam became the very first state of India to have an NRC in 1951 for identification and expulsion of illegal immigrants as per the Act.

The exception made in case of Assam because of compulsions of history and law does not take away the fundamental point that as per existing law NRC’s applicability is for the whole of India and singling out west Bengal in particular on election eve is legally and politically improper. We will examine possible reasons for this intimidatory singling out of West Bengal little later. First let us see what has been our experience of Assam NRC in terms of results achieved.

The main objective of  NRC was to identify illegal immigrants  and expel them. Barely ten years after the first NRC the 1961 census found number of illegal immigrants in Assam  to be nearly 2.25 lakhs. In a white paper issued by the Home department of Assam the estimate shot up to five lakhs. In the draft NRC published under the ongoing updation currently underway nearly four millions claimants to citizenship have been excluded for want of certainty about their citizenship status. It is obvious NRC has not contained the influx of illegal migrants in the State even after six decades of its introduction in 1951.

Let us look at the other objective of expulsion of illegal migrants after they are identified as such following the NRC. In  February this year during the  hearing of current status of Assam NRC updation government of India submitted before the apex court that out of 52000 individuals identified as foreigners by the Tribunal set up under Foreigners Act of 1946 only 162 were deported. This is an irrefutable proof of the failure of NRC in curbing infiltration or expelling infiltrators. Interestingly it was also submitted by the government before the court that 27000 individuals attempting to cross over from the border into Assam were pushed back by our security forces. Quite obviously a vigorous security setup to guard the borders against infiltration is more effective than an elaborate and time and resource consuming exercise of NRC that till now has hardly resulted in anything but discord and disaffection in society and harassment and humiliation of our own citizens.

These being the results why the idea of NRC is being marketed so aggressively by BJP for Bengal? Obviously the motive appears political. When you see NRC in conjunction with BJP’s another brainchild the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) 2016 the motive becomes crystal clear. CAB divides illegal immigrants into infiltrators liable to be expelled and refugees likely to be granted citizenship depending upon the faith they practise. Thus by combining the two BJP may expect to neutralise anti BJP vote of those liable to be expelled and  consolidate its hold on those likely to be granted citizenship. People in Assam and other North Eastern states see CAB as a counter measure to nullify the objectives of NRC and have risen in protest against what they term  BJP’s   duplicity.

How will NRC if introduced in Bengal impact people in Darjeeling region? We have PM  Modi simply saying this won’t harm the Gorkhas but choosing not to say that it would benefit them. Then we have Raju Bista saying NRC will benefit the Gorkha by making them more secure in their land without explaining how exactly. At the cutting edge level we have  BJP supporters canvassing relentlessly that if NRC comes ‘90% of the Bengali speaking people in terai and duars will be pushed back to Bangladesh’. I am not aware how they are sure of their figures or the end result. However they seem unaware of the perilous procedure fraught with long spells of harassment, humiliation and uncertainty for the common man irrespective of who is pushed back to another country and who is entitled to remain in the end. They are also unaware that if CAB comes - and it is sure to come if NRC comes, both being dependent on BJP’s return to power - then many among those our friends are expecting to be pushed back to Bangladesh may end up getting citizenship due to the faith they practise. Obviously the painstaking propaganda by some of our youngsters is either a command performance or due to ignorance about the procedure involved. My advise to them is to go through the Citizenship (Registration of citizens and issuing of National Identity cards) Rules of 1956 and their 22 amendments, the last one being of 7 July 2003 and be unbiased in their views.

It is true that no Gorkha can be liable for expulsion from India irrespective of whether or not there is NRC in Bengal. Even those who may be deemed to be citizens of Nepal and not India can remain under the Indo-Nepal treaty of 1950. To that extent the PM is right that NRC will not harm the Gorkhas but there is no additional benefit that it brings to the table for Gorkhas which the Gorkhas don’t have already. When you think of this status quo with or without NRC and take into account the harassment, humiliation, uncertainty and the enormous resources needed for the exercise it may appear to be futile and even counter productive. In Assam where just an updation exercise for an existing NRC is going on nearly 40000 workers (30000 regular government  employees and 10000 contract workers) are engaged in the task. Twenty different types of customised computer soft wares have been developed mostly through private sector at huge cost and over 2500 data digitisation hubs established for the purpose. Diversion of such huge resources for an exercise at the end of which you are getting ready with another law to grant citizenship to many who may be found to be illegal immigrants or if you are able to deport only 162 illegals out of 52000 identified definitely needs to be given a fresh look. If your motives are purely political for which you couldn’t care less for the resources or  the harassment common people are subjected to during the exercise then it is a different story.

I am not for a moment arguing that we need not have NRC and let India be a caravan serai for immigrants. What I am saying is do not use NRC as an electoral gimmick and if you have NRC at huge cost to the nation do not neutralise its gains by a counter statute like the CAB. My argument is also to see if the objectives of NRC could be fulfilled by having a robust border guarding system instead of the cumbersome and frightfully expensive procedures involved in NRC that also become unduly bothersome for the common man. My appeal to every one is not to mix up a legal issue that also has bearing on national security with petty politics and unfounded or exaggerated claims about its gains or pitfalls.

Via The DT

NRC Won't Hurt Gorkhas, Says PM Narendra Modi

11:31 AM
SILIGURI, WEST BENGAL: Insisting that he won't spare infiltrators, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday assured justice for refugees from neighbouring countries and said the Gorkha community in north Bengal won't be hurt by a National Register of Citizens (NRC).

"The way Modi has acted against Maoists and terrorists, similarly Modi is not going to spare infiltrators. On the other hand, this chowkidar would do justice to refugees who are victims of a historic blunder by the Congress," he said, in an obvious reference to the partition of the country in 1947.

PM Modi said he had been told that rumours were being spread about NRC in the Darjeeling Hills.




"I want to assure all Gorkha brothers and sisters from this stage that none of you will be inconvenienced because of the NRC," he said.

Three days back, the BJP had accused West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress of spreading misinformation regarding the impact of the NRC on the Gorkha community in the Darjeeling Hills.
"The Trinamool is running a false campaign in north Bengal through some local leaders. They are telling people that if NRC is implemented in Bengal, the Gorkhas living in the hills will have to leave the state," BJP national Secretary Rahul Sinha had said.

Without naming the Binoy Tamang led pro-Trinamool faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, PM Modi said he was warming all those "who are on the payroll of the Trinamool and spreading terror" that their days were over.

"The moment the BJP comes to power, those harassing innocent people will have to answer the law."
PM Modi said the alliance of "criminals and infiltrators" won't be able to continue for long in West Bengal and urged people to vote in the Lok Sabha elections fearlessly.

"I would like to urge BJP office bearers also to hold your ground. We are with you."


Via ndtv

NRC Issue - Congress MP writes to Home Minister Rajnath Singh

7:12 PM
‘1 lakh Gorkhas of Assam not in list’

Expressing concern over the “non-inclusion of genuine Indian citizens of the Hindi- and Bengali-speaking community” in the final draft of NRC of Assam, Congress Lok Sabha MP and the party’s observer in West Bengal Gaurav Gogoi has written to Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

Mr. Gogoi has urged the Home Minister to include documents like ‘grazing permits’ and ‘Khuti permits’ in the prescribed lists of documents for the NRC that will help indigenous Gorkha Community.

“These documents, though not listed in the prescribed documents’ list, will help genuine Indian citizens of the indigenous Gorkha community to prove their permanent resident status before 1971,” Mr. Gogoi said, adding that around 1 lakh indigenous Gorkhas of Assam found their names excluded in the final draft of the NRC. Representatives of the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh, a non-political organisation, had met Mr. Gogoi earlier this month and informed him about a “sizeable number of Gorkha population” being left out.

Recently, leaders of both rival factions of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha ( GJM) — Bimal Gurung and Binay Tamang — had warned of mass protests if the interests of Gorkhas were ‘undermined’ due to the NRC update.

Via The Hindu

Gorkhas May Suffer if NRC implemented in West Bengal

11:15 AM
If the NRC Is Extended to West Bengal, Indian Gorkhas May End Up Suffering
Swaraj Thapa

Questions over identity and citizenship of Indian Gorkhas have long persisted, which is one of the reasons behind the community's consistent demand for a Gorkhaland state.

As the debate continues over what will happen to those who will eventually be excluded from the final NRC list, Gorkhas or Nepalis in India would be well advised against rushing in to draw conclusions with regard to the exercise and instead analyse and assess possible implications that it could have on them, their status and identity.

On the face of it, the move to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) initiated at the behest of the Supreme Court to identify undocumented immigrants in Assam is welcome. For Gorkhas of India, who have been beset with an identity crisis and sometimes perceived as foreigners, it would naturally follow that an NRC would be another step in certifying them as Indians. Enlistment in the NRC will after all, affirm citizenship.

However, there are a few reasons why Gorkhas must tread with caution.

Gorkhas are well represented in the army and have given their lives in every battle fought for the country. However, recent news reports state that over one lakh Gorkhas or Nepalis have been excluded from the draft final NRC list. These Gorkhas or Nepalis, of course, will be given an opportunity to submit documents in support of their claim of being Indian citizens. They may be included in the final list or be excluded, if they are identified as immigrants from Nepal.

But this development points to the larger malaise afflicting Gorkhas or Nepalis in India: that of identity and the perception that all Gorkhas are immigrants from Nepal. How does one ensure that Indian Gorkhas do not get excluded from such a list?

In fact, it is this flogging stick that is invariably sought to be flashed whenever Indian Gorkhas or Nepalis have attempted to re-assert their identity and stake their rightful claim in nation-building. The most recent example was witnessed in Darjeeling last year. What began as a protest to oppose attempts to impose Bengali language in all schools in the state, including Darjeeling, soon turned into an agitation for identity and a demand for a separate state.

As the state began to crackdown on the protesters, it wasn’t long before the narrative took a different turn. The top leadership was charged with having links to Nepal’s Maoists. Some of the leaders involved – elected members of the Darjeeling municipality, a former elected councillor – were singled out to be alleged Nepalese citizens and hence foreigners. Systematically, their membership from respective elected bodies were sought to be cancelled and their names struck off the voters list. Reports also began circulating that authorities were considering looking at documentation of the local population dating back to 1950: a message that migrant Nepalese will be weeded out.

Hardly new tactics

Such tactics are hardly new for Gorkhas in India and those in public life have had to face it at every corner. Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling has been accused of being a Nepali citizen, notwithstanding that he recently became the longest serving chief minister in the country. M.K. Subba, a three-term former MP from Assam, faced allegations that he was a Nepali citizen. He was expelled from the Congress party in 2014 and suffered a sudden illness soon after. Balkrishna Acharya, the low profile MD of Patanjali Ayurved and arguably among the richest Indians with a reported networth of US$6.5 billion, faced investigation under the UPA government on charges that he was a Nepali citizen and had forged documents to obtain an Indian passport. In Darjeeling itself, Gorkha candidates contesting local polls in Terai regions like Naxalbari and Phansidewa are faced with slogans that they should go back to Nepal. Questioning the identity of Gorkhas of India, make no mistake, has been around for a long time.

Admittedly, one of the key reasons for Indian Gorkhas or Nepalis facing this crisis is the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship signed by India and Nepal. The open border between the two countries as a consequence of the treaty, allowing citizens of both countries a free passage. Indeed, barring electoral privileges, any Nepali citizen can purchase property in India, do business and even join government jobs at certain levels officially while continuing to remain citizens of Nepal.

Article 7 of the friendship treaty states:

“The governments of India and Nepal agree to grant, on reciprocal basis, to the nationals of one country in the territories of the other the same privileges in the matter of residence, ownership of property, participation in trade and commerce, movement and other privileges of a similar nature.”



There is also a history of Nepali citizens joining the Indian Army, many of whom are now in senior positions. I have met officers in the rank of Colonel, who are Nepali citizens. There is a sizeable migrant population.

An identity crisis

The confusion created by the arrangement in the mind of an average Indian also poses an identity crisis for Indian Gorkhas. While the borders are open, there exists no mechanism for a head count of the people entering or exiting. This makes it difficult to estimate the actual number of immigrant Nepalis in India.

While the 1950 treaty entitles Nepali citizens to live in India, I am apprehensive that should the NRC exercise ever be extended to West Bengal, it could pose problems for Gorkhas or Nepalis because a majority of the population in Darjeeling and surrounding Terai region have rarely maintained adequate documentation with regard to their residential claims. BJP leaders in West Bengal have already saidthey will implement NRC in the state if the party comes to power. Assam and West Bengal, incidentally, have the highest number of Gorkhas in the country.

An attempt to amend the 1950 treaty has been underway for some time now with a joint Eminent Persons Group (EPG) set up by both governments. It has finalised its recommendations. If the EPG is able to recommend a mechanism that will make a clear distinction between Indian Gorkhas and Nepali nationals living and working in India, the former would not face questions over their identity.

A public Indian identity

Historically, Darjeeling and Sikkim, because of the concentration of Gorkhas living there, have led the campaign for a public Indian identity. Leaders from the two places were at the forefront of the Nepali language movement. But naturally, language was also the rallying point for a wider political demand, as witnessed anywhere else. Whether it was the anti-Hindi imposition agitation in the South or the Bengali language movement in Assam, the result was a political consolidation of the forces opposing such moves.

Similarly, Gorkhas or Nepalis of India got together after former Prime Minister Morarji Desai erroneously said in 1977 that Nepali is a foreign langauge and all Nepalis in India are foreigners. It triggered a nationwide Bhasha Andolan, which became a unifying factor in the bid to fashion a distinct Indian identity.

The formulation of Indian Gorkha identity received wider support during the Subhash Ghisingh led Gorkhaland movement of the mid-1980s, not just in the Darjeeling region, but even elsewhere in the country. Although self-rule and identity were the primary objectives, language also played a key role. Ultimately, the Centre conceded and Nepali was included as one of the official languages in the eighth schedule of the Constitution in 1992. Additionally, the Centre also issued a gazette notification in 1988 clarifying that Gorkhas residing in India were Indian citizens.

Mamata Banerjee’s Bengal and Assam contrast

Today, when West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee vociferously takes up the cause of the 40 lakh people excluded from the NRC final draft list – most of them speakers of the Bengali language – one cannot but compare the contrast in her actions with respect to Gorkhas. A poem titled “Identity” that she penned for the 40 lakh excluded from the NRC could well have echoed the pain and anguish suffered by Indian Gorkhas for several decades now.

Yet, it is ironical how Banerjee failed to appreciate the similarities between Bengali speaking population of Assam and Nepali speaking population in West Bengal. Both are multilingual states where minority groups are under pressure from the majority, resulting in identity assertion of the minorities. That was the logical explanation for the flareup over language issue in Darjeeling last year.

There are lessons to be learnt in every movement. While every state is multilingual and mandated to respect the rights of linguistic minorities, political practice has demonstrated that the official language symbolises the state. Speakers of minority languages find that discrimination against them by the majority community is based not on language competence or achievement, but on language identification. The Rajbanshis and Kochs of Cooch Behar have assimilated themselves, adopting Bengali as their language. But Gorkhas have resisted this and have paid the price. As a consequence, Gorkhas of Darjeeling feel that a separate state is the only answer to the problems of identity and discrimination.

An NRC in West Bengal may not be unwelcome, but a clear distinction has to be made between Indian Gorkhas and immigrant Nepalese living in India first.

Swaraj Thapa is a political commentator and activist.

Via The Wire

Do not Panic over NRC list says Assam Finance Minister

9:09 PM
Assam Finance Minister Himant Biswas Sarma Requests People Not to Panic - "Even names of indigenous Assamese are not there in the list, names of Gorkhas are not in the list, but this is not final"

In an interview to India Today, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has appealed people not to panic over the draft NRC.

Do not Panic over NRC list says  Assam Finance Minister
Himanta Biswa Sarma

When asked about TMC leader Mamata Banerjee's accusation that "this is just a pretence to remove Muslim names from the list", he said, "No ones names have been removed, we are merely following Supreme Court Orders, even the names of indigenous Assamese are not there in the list, names of Gorkhas are not in the list, names of Hindi speaking people are not in the list, names of Marwaris are not on the list, names of Assames Hindus and Muslims are not on the list, it doesn't mean they are foreigner or they are outsiders... Supreme Court is going to develop a Special Operating Procedure and people will be given an opportunity to claim their stake... they will be heard three times, only then a final list will be prepared."


आज तक (@aajtak) Tweeted: NRC के ड्राफ्ट पर सियासी घमासान के बीच TMC नेताओं के एक दल को सिलचर एयरपोर्ट पर हिरासत में ले लिया गया है. देखिए, क्या कहना है इस पर BJP नेता और असम के स्वास्थ्य मंत्री @himantabiswa का. #ReporterDiary @manogyaloiwal अन्य वीडियो : https://t.co/JMFFiLsoXl https://t.co/ehzxPLpUvF https://twitter.com/aajtak/status/1025071065394032643?s=17

Bimal Gurung's Press Release on NRC list Assam

12:58 PM
Press release from President Shri Bimal Gurung:

“I extend my solidarity and support to all those genuine citizens of India whose name have been left out of the NRC list, and request the central government to take handle their cases with utmost care, and also request the Govt of Assam and the Central Govt to consider all genuine cases of those who have been living in Assam prior to 25th of March, 1971. 

We are also struggling for our identity here, and are very worried at the situation developing due to NRC in Assam. We fear that this could lead to the marginalization of the indigenous Gorkha-Kamtapuri and Adivasis of North Bengal, and we want to ensure that no such unfortunate situation in allowed to develop. We won’t allow the indigenous Gorkha, Adivasi, Kamtapuri, Meche and other indigenous communities to suffer injustice. If actions are taken to undermine the locals Bimal Gurung won’t stay silent.
Bimal Gurung
Bimal Gurung 

I have been made aware of the fact that state government is secretly measuring land in our hills, if this is being done to settle illegal Bangladeshis who have been removed from Assam, then it creates a national security threat.

Darjeeling Terai and Dooars help connect mainland India to the north east states, this Chicken Neck region is therefore highly sensitive in entire South Asia, and there are possibilities of anti-National, anti-India forces fomenting trouble in this region. In such a situation, if conspiracy is hatched to settle illegal immigrants who have been removed from another state to our lands with which we share a very long border, this will put to grave risk the national security of our country. I will not permit any political entity from the state to jeopardize our national security.

No one should dream of undermining the indigenous population of north Bengal by hoping to settle illegal Bangladeshis who have been kicked out to Assam. If they attempt anything like this, then all the Rajbanshis, Kamtapuris, Adivasis, Meche and Gorkhas from Dooars and all the Gorkhas from the hills will speak with one voice against this.

I once again request, the central government to consider the cases of genuine citizens of India with utmost care, and sympathy.

_---------------------------------------------

प्रेस विज्ञप्ति - ४ अगस्त २०१८

आसाममा एनआरसी सूचिको कारणले जन्मिएको विवादमा प्रभावित बनेका त्यहाँका पीडित साँचो नागरिकहरू सन्दर्भमा मेरो समवेदना राख्दै उनीहरूको समस्यालाई गहनतासँग लिनुपर्ने म केन्द्र सरकारलाई अपील गर्दछु|
२५ मार्च १९७१ भन्दा अघि आसाम पसेकाहरूको उजुरीलाई आसामको राज्य सरकार अनि केन्द्र सरकारले पुनः गम्भीर रूपमा हेरोस् भन्ने मेरो अनुरोध छ| हाम्रो छातीमा पीडितहरूप्रति समवेदना छ|

हामी पनि यता आफ्नो परिचयको लडाई लडिरहेको अवस्थामा आसाममा एनआरसी सूचिको कारणले जन्मिएको समस्याको कारणले गोर्खा-कामतापुरी-आदिवासीको बाहुल्यता भएको उत्तर बङ्गालको क्षेत्रमा यहाँका रैथानेहरू अल्पसंख्यक बन्न नपरोस्, त्यस्तो कुनै कार्य नहोस् त्यो सुनिस्चित गर्न चाहन्छौं|
हामी दार्जीलिङ-कालेबुंग पहाड, तराई अनि डुवर्सका रैथाने गोर्खा, कामतापुरी, आदिवासी, मेचे आदिलाई अन्याय हुनदिनेछैनौं| यस्तो अवस्था आएको खण्डमा विमल गुरुङ चुपचाप बस्नेछैन| अहिले पहाड, तराई अनि डुवर्सको विभिन्न स्थानमा राज्य सरकारले गोप्य रूपमा जमीन नापी गरेको सुन्दैछु| यदि आसामबाट निकालिएको अनि बंगलादेशबाट छिरेकोहरूलाई स्थापित गराउने षडयन्त्रमा जमीन नापीएको हो भने त्यसले देशको राष्ट्रिय सुरक्षालाई खतरा उत्पन्न गर्छ|

दार्जीलिंग तराईको भूमिले मात्र भारत देशलाई आफ्नो पूर्वोत्तर राज्यसँग जोडेर राखेको छ| देशलाई पूर्वोत्तरसँग जोड्ने यो चिकन नेक क्षेत्र दक्षिण एसिया कै निम्ति अति नै संवेदनशील क्षेत्र भएकोले यहाँ राष्ट्रको विरुद्धमा अन्तराष्ट्रिय चलखेल हुनसक्ने आशंका जहिले पनि छ| यस्तो संवेदनशील क्षेत्रमा अर्थात् यसको छेउछाउमा यहि देशको एउटा राज्यमा उच्छेद गरिएको बंगलादेशीलाई ल्याएर राख्नु भनेको देशको राष्ट्रिय सुरक्षासँग खेलवाड गर्नु हो|

विमल गुरुङले यसरी राज्यको कुनैपनि राजनैतिक शक्तिलाई राष्ट्रिय सुरक्षासँग खेलवाड गर्न दिंदैन| आसामबाट उच्छेद गरिएको बंगलादेशीलाई ल्याएर उत्तर बंगालको उहिलेदेखि बसेको रैथानेहरूलाई अल्पसंख्यक बनाउने सपना कसैले नदेखेको राम्रो हो| यस्तो भएको खण्डमा डुवर्सका समस्त राजवंशी कामतापुरी, आदिवासी, मेचे, गोर्खा लगायत पहाडका गोर्खाहरूले राष्ट्रहीतमा एकै स्वरमा विरोध जनाउनेछन्|
यसको साथै आसाममा अहिले पीडित बनेकाहरू सन्दर्भमा केन्द्र सरकारले मानवीय अनि सठीक पहल गर्नुपर्नेछ भनि म आग्रह गर्दछु|

विमल गुरुङ
अध्यक्ष, गोजमुमो,
केन्द्रिय कार्यालय, दार्जीलिङ
भारत|
 
Copyright © Indian Gorkhas. Designed by Darjeeling Web Solutions