Showing posts with label Gorkha community. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gorkha community. Show all posts

Gorkhaland, a demand whose time has come

5:12 PM
Gorkhaland, a demand whose time has come: Demand of the sons of the soil and the myths that tarnish the movement

When Jamyang Tsering Namgyal of Ladakh gave one of the most passionate, factual and heart-breaking accounts of how Article 370 had kept the people of Ladakh deprived, discriminated against and treated as a second class citizens, he forced people across India and the world to take note. Far away from Ladakh from where he belongs, or Delhi where he was giving his speech, people in the Eastern Himalayan region of Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars were glued onto their TVs. For us here in Darjeeling region, Jamyang wasn’t just describing the pathos of Ladakh, he was resonating each and every sentiment that we the people aspiring for Gorkhaland statehood have felt and lived through in West Bengal.
Gorkhaland
Gorkhaland 

‘Gorkhaland’ the very name evokes strong sentiments – from a motley crew of passionate supporters to very dedicated gang of opposers, to a vast majority of well-meaning but clueless neutrals who irrespective of their understanding of the issue or absolute lack of it, comment on it passionately.

Trying to explain the nuances of the demand for a ‘Gorkhaland state’ individually is very difficult, which is why it is imperative to explain the finer details of Gorkhaland demand in detail.

I am basing this article on a Q and A format so that everyone reading the article will find it easy to understand the issue in depth.

Everyday Identity Blues:

Curious stranger: Hi! You look a little strange…Where are you from? Nepal?

Me: India

Curious stranger: Let me guess… North East

Me: Darjeeling

Curious stranger: Oh! It’s in Nepal no?

Me: No, it’s in West Bengal

Curious stranger: Nice! So you are a Bong? Do you speak Bengali?

Me: No, I am a Gorkha, and our lingua franca is Nepali.

Curious stranger: Huh! So you immigrated to India?

Me: No, I was born here

Curious stranger: When did your family come to India?

Me: We didn’t immigrate, we came with the land. We are indigenous to the land.

Curious stranger: Like… seriously?

Me: Yeah! Like very very seriously.

On and on, every day we the Gorkhas have to face one set or other of these series of questions. Our children and youth who have to leave home for study and work grow up with this “crisis of identity” where we have to assert and reassert our Indian-ness day in and day out.

In the plainest of terms, the demand for Gorkhaland state is an attempt on the part of people from Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars to do away with this “crisis of identity” that Gorkhas across India have and have had to face and to assert our Indian Identity. So when Jamyang spoke of the people of Ladakh wanting to become Indian for over 70-years, we here in Darjeeling absolutely understood what he meant. He was, in more ways than he knew to narrate our plight.

I hope the following series of Q and A will help many of you understand the demand and its implications.

Is ‘Gorkhaland’ a demand for separation from India?

Foremost, let us all be clear about one thing – the demand for Gorkhaland is not a demand for separation from India. It is a demand for the formation of a separate state within the constitutional and geographical contours of India. Much like how Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Chattisgarh, Telangana were formed, people living in Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars have been demanding the formation of a separate state called Gorkhaland, away from West Bengal.

What areas are being demanded as Gorkhaland?

The aspired Gorkhaland region comprises of the districts of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and parts of Alipurduars and Jalpaiguri.

Is there any historical context to these particular areas being demanded as Gorkhaland?

The History of Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars is distinguished by one peculiar aspect – it has always been in a state of flux. Given its geostrategic location, this region was a hotly contested landmass between Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, and Tibet. For centuries the dominant kingdom among these four took control of this region.

From 1662 until 1777 this region was under the Kingdom of Sikkim; however, in 1777 Nepal Army had defeated the King of Sikkim and established their dominance in this region. In 1816 the British Army defeated the Nepal Army, after which they took over and handed over these lands to the King of Sikkim as a gesture of friendship.

In 1835 the Brits took these lands on lease from the King of Sikkim to establish a sanatorium but ended up establishing their military garrison here. By the year 1866, the British had annexed the present day of Kalimpong and Doors from Bhutan following the defeat of Bhutan in the Anglo-Bhutan war of 1865, they then added this newly annexed area to the existing Darjeeling district – which we today know as Darjeeling Hills, Terai and Dooars.

It is these areas that never shared any history with Bengal, which the people here are demanding to be formed into a state called Gorkhaland.

Who are Gorkhas in the Indian context?

The ‘Gorkhas’ in the Indian context are Indian citizens of Nepali ethnicity, who live across the length and breadth of India. The term ‘Gorkha’ in the Indian context is used to differentiate the Indian citizens of Nepali ethnicity from the citizens of Nepal, who prefer to be called ‘Nepalese.’

Did the Gorkhas immigrate to India?

Majority of the people who identify themselves as ‘Gorkhas’ in India are sons and daughters of the soil, and their forefathers ‘came with the land.’ They did not immigrate to India. However, it is well recognized that there are many immigrants from Nepal, who have also settled in India, post-independence.

What do you mean by ‘came with the land’?

The Nepali kingdom in the 17th and 18th Century was spread all over the Himalayas. In the year 1777, Nepal had appropriated the Kingdoms of Sikkim, Kumaon, Garhwal and Kangra. However, following the Anglo-Nepal war of 1814-1816, Nepal agreed to cede most of the Terai region, the lands of Sikkim, Kumaon, Garhwal and Kangra to the British through the Treaty of Sugauli (Sugauli Sandhi), which was signed on 4 March 1816. After the Anglo-British war of 1865, the British appropriated the lands that are today known as Kalimpong and Dooars. Therefore, all the people of Nepali, Sikkimese, Tibetan and Bhutanese origin who were living in these tracts automatically came under the British and subsequently under India (after the British left), hence the term – ‘came with the land.’

Were there ‘Gorkhas’ in Darjeeling region prior to the British coming to India?

Recorded history shows that the region was inhabited as early as the 9th century. When Guru Padmasambhava had passed through this region in the 9th century, he had established Buddhism in the region – which indicates the presence of people living in the areaway, before the British ever landed in Asia.

In the Indian context, the word ‘Gorkha’ is an umbrella term used to identify a varied group of people, as one unified entity. In terms of Darjeeling communities such as the Róng – Lepchas, the Tsong – Limbus, the Kirat – Rai, the Dukpas, the Bhutias and the Magars are the aboriginal/ethnic/native people of the region, who constitute a large chunk of the ‘Gorkha’ people living in the Darjeeling region. Hence, it can be safely said that the majority of the ‘Gorkhas,’ who belong to these communities and are living in Darjeeling, ethnic to the region.

In addition, other groups of people such as the Gurungs, Thapas, Chettris, Newars, Sunwars, Bahuns, Kamis, Damais, Sarkis, Bhutias, Thamis etc, traversed these lands for trade or settled here following wars. For instance, the establishment of the Kingdom of Sikkim in 1642 brought in a large Bhutia population from Tibet and Bhutan into the region. Similarly, the Nepali incursions starting from as early as the 1700s brought many present-day Nepalis to the region.

While kingdoms changed, the people remained.

Over centuries the people from this region could be broadly categorized as – Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Dukpa, Tsong, Rai, Magar of the hills, and Nepali, Dukpa, Koche (Rajbanshi), Meche, Rabha, and Toto of the plains.

Later Adivasis were brought in from Chota-Nagpur plateau to work in the tea gardens of Dooars, then Bengalis and another mainland Indians gradually came and settled in the region.

Around the 1890s the dominant Nepali-Bhutia-Lepcha groups subsumed the rest of the hill tribes into their fold and a unified identity “NeBuLa” was used to define the hill people. In Darjeeling, this gradually metamorphosed into the term “Gorkha”.

Hence, one can safely concur that the ‘Gorkha’ presence far supersedes the British arrival in the region.

It is important to note that today, the term ‘Gorkha’ is used to indicate people who are from this region – which today includes everyone from Bengali Gorkha, Bihari Gorkha to Marwari Gorkha etc.

When was the demand for Gorkhaland first raised?

The first demand for a separate administrative unit for the Darjeeling-Dooars region (a la Separate State in today’s term) was first raised by the Hillmen’s Association in 1907, making the demand for a separate state constituting the Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars region the oldest demand for statehood in India.

Why did the British not entertain this demand?

The only reason as to why such a demand was not entertained by the then British Government is because the Darjeeling and Dooars region was a highly contested geographical region which they had taken on lease from Sikkim and Bhutan. The British had declared our region to be a “non-regulated area”, which meant that the rules and laws developed for the rest of India would not be automatically applied to the region.

What historical claims does West Bengal have over the Darjeeling-Dooars region?

Ironically None! There is no shared history between the Darjeeling-Dooars region and the rest of West Bengal.

Historically, the district of Darjeeling never formed a part of Bengal and no King who ruled the plains of Bengal ever had any suzerainty over those areas. Ethnologically, the Mongoloid and semi-Mongoloid races inhabiting the Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars have more affinity with the Hill tribes of Assam than with the people in the plains of Bengal. Geographically the district of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar are completely cut off and distinctly different from the rest of West Bengal. Linguistically, the people residing in this region have a greater affinity with Hindi, the Lingua Franca of India, than with the state language Bengali

Why is Darjeeling a part of West Bengal?

Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars were forcefully included into West Bengal without any consultation with the local populace using two flimsy acts enacted by WB Legislative Assembly:

The Requisitioned Land (Apportionment of Compensation) Act, 1949 (51 of 1949). Darjeeling District – transformed to the Absorbed Areas(Laws) Act, 1954.

The West Bengal Raw Jute Futures Act, 1948 (West Bengal Act No. 25 of 1948)

Why are people in Darjeeling demanding Gorkhaland?

The demand for a separate administrative unit (a separate state in today’s term) for the Darjeeling region had started as early as 1907. However, the influx of Bangladeshi refugees starting in 1965 and later state-sponsored illegal immigrants from Bangladesh post-1971 for vote bank by subsequent West Bengal governments led to the marginalization of the ethnic Gorkha, Kamtapuri and the Adivasi communities of the region. The demand for Gorkhaland is a demand to protect the identity, culture, history, traditions and the rich bond of people from the Darjeeling region, which they share with their land.

Furthermore, the Gorkhas from the Darjeeling region have continued to be labelled by the fascist and state-sponsored Bengali organizations such as Bangla O Bangla Bhasa Bachao Samity, Amra Bangali, Jan Jagaran Morcha, Jan Chetna Morcha as illegal immigrants and the demand for Gorkhaland illegal. They have rendered the ethnic Gorkha people as an intruder in his/her own ancestral lands. This has caused widespread socio-economic and political marginalization of the Gorkhas. All these factors have resulted in the Gorkhas being under-represented, stereotyped and communally discriminated in almost all sectors.

Moreover, Bengal has always been colonial in its approach to this region. The large revenues collected from the Darjeeling region have been used to develop other parts of Bengal while neglecting even the basic infrastructure in the region.

Case in point: Since the year 2002, over 3000 malnutrition-related death (death due to starvation) have been reported from the tea gardens of this region and yet the West Bengal government has not taken any steps to alleviate the sufferings of the people in the region. Instead, they have continued to deny the tea garden workers minimum wages.

Is the proposed Gorkhaland region economically viable?

The proposed Gorkhaland region is rich in bio-diversity, scenic views, hydro potentials, tourism, NTFP, Tea and numerous other resources, making this a resource-abundant region.

Currently, the aspired Gorkhaland region contributes to the least 20-23% of the total revenue collected in West Bengal. Even the most conservative estimates put the revenue potential from tea, tourism and hydro from the proposed Gorkhaland area at over 20,000 Crores per annum. In return, West Bengal only spends around Rs 5000 crores in the region annually (including salary paid to Govt officials). Thus, draining off a large portion of the revenue collected from the region.

It is estimated that the revenues from Tea and Tourism alone will make the proposed Gorkhaland region a revenue surplus state.

The revenues collected from hydro development, NTFP, cross-border trades and other resources will make the proposed state of Gorkhaland as one of the most economically vibrant states in India.

What is Chicken Neck region and how will Gorkhaland impact the National Security or our nation?

Darjeeling district is home to the proverbial “chicken neck” region, a roughly 200-km stretch which borders four nations — Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Tibet — in distances varying from 25 kms to 60 kms. It has seen a large-scale influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh, which started as a trickle in 1965 and turned into a gushing torrent post the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, that lead to the creation of Bangladesh.

The ‘Siliguri Corridor’ has today become one of the most porous border regions in the world, and Pakistan’s ISI has used this to operate its agents freely. In fact, in 2002, the writer Pinaki Bhattacharya had highlighted how the ISI was using the ‘Siliguri Corridor’ as a supply route to provide arms and ammunition via Bangladesh to insurgents in the North East. Following investigations into the Burdwan bomb blast, in May 2015, the National Investigating Agency released a report that explained how Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) had networks in West Bengal and lower districts of Assam, and that JMB had been using West Bengal as a safe sanctuary.

Given all this, if there is one state in India which is actually a safe haven for terrorists, it is West Bengal, and if the state government was capable of addressing national security concerns, it would have done so a long time ago. The presence of ISI modules and terrorists of the various ilk in Bengal actually prove that the state government in Bengal isn’t able to protect the vulnerable “chicken neck” area.

One possible reason for this could be that the state capital and its power centre, Kolkata, is located too far away from the region, because of which the state administration isn’t able to focus much on the north Bengal districts.

A state of Gorkhaland, including the hills of Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars, would, therefore, help ensure better safety and security for the “chicken neck” area. Smaller states are also easier to govern and the presence of the entire state machinery being in one region would help keep close tabs on infiltrators, unlike what is possible out of Kolkata.

Why is West Bengal opposed to the formation of Gorkhaland?

The state of West Bengal is one of the most economically backward states in India. Even though it is the 5th largest in terms of its size, but due to the high debt burden of over Rs. 4.35 lakh Crores, West Bengal is practically bankrupt and is highly dependent on the Central Government and the revenues generated from the proposed Gorkhaland region for its sustenance and economic survival.

So despite all the rhetoric stating, “Darjeeling is Bengal’s Abhinno Aanga,” Bengal is scared of losing its hen, which is currently laying the golden eggs. It is scared of losing the cash cow that has continued to discount the development of Bengal’s other regions over and over since independence.

Further, Bengal has always held a parochial, colonial and discriminatory attitude towards the proposed Gorkhaland region and continues to do so. Every time the Gorkhas have demanded justice or our rights, we are labelled as intruder, terrorists, and foreigners in our own land.

Hence the urgent need for Gorkhaland state to be formed.

We are hopeful that someday soon, our Member of Parliament from Darjeeling will also be able to speak with the same passion and emotion that Jamyang Tsering Namgyal did and tell the nation how the formation of Gorkhaland state or Union Territory will benefit mother India.

** This article was written by Mr Upendra Mani Pradhan, a Darjeeling-based Political Analyst [Twitter: @jorebungley] and co-authored by Dr Vimal Khawas, an Associate Professor in the Dept of Peace and Conflict Studies, Sikkim University [Twitter: @vimalkhawas]

[ Via: https://www.opindia.com/2019/08/gorkhaland-a-demand-whose-time-has-come-demand-of-the-sons-of-the-soil-and-the-myths-that-tarnish-the-movement/ ]

प्रणय प्रधान को मृत्यु - गोर्खालीहरुलाई भारत भरी हेपेको कुरा

8:07 PM
गोर्खालीहरुलाई भारत भरी हेपेको कुरा कुनै नया कुरा होइन तेस्मा हामी गोर्खाली जाती डटेको नै छैनौ, "तेस्तो त भै रहन्छ" भनेर टाली दिन्छौ तर हिज आज यो हेपाइ ले रेखा पार गरेको के मलाइ अनि केही जागरुक जन्ताहरुलाई मात्र आभास भएको हो? आज प्रणय प्रधान को मृत्यु भयो अस्पताल मा जो हिजो अस्ति दिल्ली को गुण्डाहरु ले कुटेर मर्नु र बाच्नु हुने स्थिती मा फ्याकी दिएको थियो। 

एति मात्र कहाँ हो र निकै छ नि एस्ता हरु अनि यो सब घटना भै सकेर के गर्छौ र फेस्बुक मा दुई तीन वटा पोस्ट हालेर शोक मनाउछौ, आफू ले मात्र देख्ने बजार को भित्ता मा पोस्टर टाल्छौ अनि बाँस! काम टर्यो मैले गर्ने कर्तव्य निभाए भनेर ठूलो श्वास फेरेर आफ्नो परिवार सङ रमाउछौ तर त्यो मरौ परेको परिवार मा के हुँदै होला अनि त्यो मरौ कस्ले गर्दा परेको हो? हामी आफै ले गर्दा, हो! हामी ले गर्दा त्यो घर मा मरौ परेको हो अरु बेला अरु ले हेप्दा हामी दरो भएर डटेर युद्ध गरेको भए आज त्यो मरौ पर्थेन होला फेस्बुक र त्यो कोसै ले पत्तो न गर्ने भित्ता मा हावा हावा को पोस्टर न टालेर खास रण भुमी मा ओर्लेको भए आज त्यो मरौ पर्थेन।

खुकुरी उठाउनु भनेको होइन, लडाइ गर्नु भनेको होइन खुन खराबा गर्नु भनेको होइन, मानव्ता हराएको सन्सार मा यो हेपाइ खानु परेको स्थिती मा राज्निती ले अलिकती पनि काम गरेको छैन ईतिहास साक्षी छ अनि बर्तमन पनि। के फाइदा करोड करोड को बाटो बनाएर जब हेपाइ मा हिड्नु पर्यो भने, के फाइदा पावर र पोजिसन को जस्ले आफ्नै घाँटी मा बाध्धिएको लुगा सिलाउने धागो पनि चुट्टाउन सकेन भने?

नचिनिने भएछौ भन्ने कविता त भुतकाल मै लेख्नु भएको थियो तेति बेला त न चिनिने भएको थिएछ हाम्रो जाती अब झन के भै सक्यो सबैलाई थाहा छ। प्रणय प्रधान त सबै हेपाइ को एउटा एक्जाम्पल मात्र हो तेस्तो एक्जाम्पल त कति छ कति जो मर्न पनि सक्दैन बाच्न पनि सक्दैन। अनि हामी के गर्न सक्छौ? केइ न केइ, अह! एति गर्न सक्छै फेस्बुक मा एउटा पोस्ट हाल्नु अनि नेताहरु ले कसै ले पत्तो न गर्ने भित्ता मा पोस्टर टाल्नु।

स्कुल कलेज मा एन्टि रेग्गिङ सर्टिफिकेट बनाउनु लगाउछ एड्मिस्सन गरि सकेर रेग्गिङ्ग न होस भनेर, यदि भएको ख्ण्ड मा जस्ले गर्छ तेस्लाइ प्रसासन ले डन्ड दिन्छ हामी गोर्खा जाती पनि त स्कुल भित्रै छौ अनि स्कुल को नाउ हो भारत। किन हामीलाई मात्र छुट्टाउछ? किन हामी मात्र हेप्पिन्छौ?हामी मिलेर किन बस्न सक्दैनौ?हामी डटेर किन लड्न सक्दैनौ? के हामी न बिकि बस्न सक्दैनौ?

आदत भै सक्यो आदत निहुरेर हिड्ने हेपाइ खाने कस्ले जिम्मेवारी उठाउछ हामी हेपिएको? को जिम्मेदार छ हाम्रो हेपाइ को? के हेपिएरै जीवन बिताउने आज प्रणय प्रधान को मृत्यु भएको छ यदि हाम्रो जाती हेपाइ न खाने भए अरु जाती सम्मान भए कसैले आँखा उठाएर हेर्न सक्दैन थियो तर भयो होइन? भोलि हाम्रो जाती को पनि एसरी अस्पताल मा मृत्यु न होस जोगाएर राखौ, यो जन्ता ले याद राख्नु पर्छ नेता ले याद राख्नु पर्छ अनि सर्कार ले याद राख्नु पर्छ।

अनिकेश प्रधान

Hawaldar Sher Bahadur Thapa - unsung Sino-India war hero

7:55 AM
Remembering forgotten Sino-India 1962 War hero Late Hav. Shere Thapa is no less a martyr than Anyone.

                      ‘Punya Smaran
   Swargiya Hawaldar Sher Bahadur Thapa
                 2 J &K RIF “Bodyguard”
   
       Is veer ne 1962 mein Chiniyo ki chakke udaye
Inka naam yahan ke bacche bacche ke zaban par hain
       Deshvasiyo ki aur se tumhe sat- sat pranam.’

Itanagar , Fri, 19 Oct 2012 ANI
By Pradeep Kumar (ANI)

Itanagar, Oct. 19 (ANI): His light machine gun boomed relentlessly, like a roaring tiger. One after another unsuspecting Chinese soldiers were killed and fell into the Ngo River without anyone to count. The day was October 18 half-a-century ago.

A brave Shere Thapa of the Indian Army's 2 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles, hiding in a very advantageous position, fired non-stop as his lone soldier-mate continued changing the carbines.
Hawaldar Sher Bahadur Thapa - unsung Sino-India war hero

The People's Liberation Army of China had sneaked through the Tama Chung Chung Ridge. Thapa had positioned himself on a vertical slope - invincible high mountain ridge on one side, steep slope down to the Ngo stream, the source of the Subansiri River, on the other side. He had located the most strategic place, either to stop or kill the advancing Chinese soldiers.

Thapa did not notice anymore Chinese after emptying all magazines with the fired brash khokas lying scattered. He confidently came out of his bunker for a recce. Death was waiting for him. He peeped towards the heap of corpses with great satisfaction. A wounded, but alive Chinese soldier, lying on the heap along with his colleagues fired, killing him instantly.

The corpses of the Chinese soldiers were piled up so much that the river failed to carry them. This is the folklore. The great soldier is highly revered in the area for his gallantry act.

Comparatively, brave Thapa was no less a war hero than subedar Jaswant Singh Rawat (No. 4039009 of the 4th Garhwal Rifles Bn), who had fought a lone battle against the invading Chinese in Eastern Sector (Tawang). He was conferred the highest military honour, the Param Vir Chakra, for his bravery. Jaswant Garh, a few km ahead of the pass, stands tall today as a testimony to his heroism.

Political interpreter Chader Mangha along with many villagers, who carried supplies, arms and ammunition for Thapa's Army section, were witness to his bravery. Mangha, who died in 1994,was given a commendation certificate by the GoI in recognition of his service to the nation and promoted to the rank of political assistant. He had also narrated the entire episode to his daughter Yating Byaling a resident of Gosing Taying village under Taksing circle, wife of RD Minister Tanga Byaling. Byaling also vouch of the bravery of Thapa and the village folk.

Even the Chinese had respectfully buried him and left a small note praising his bravery. Why none ever bothered to honour his brave act, even posthumously is intriguing? I have high respect for Rawat as he was a great martyr, but Thapa deserves equal honour.

Villagers inhabiting the Indo-China border claim that the PLA had sent its troops through passes, including Taksing, Mechuka, Anini, etc where the forces camped waiting for orders. Had the war prolonged, Chinawould have launched a multi-pronged attack but withdrew its forces after cessation of firing, following 29 days (Oct 18 to Nov 16, 1962) of fierce battle, leading to the humiliating defeat of the Indian Army.
Supply line was cut off following retreat order which never reached the duo. Left with no food and insufficient ammunition, they feared any eventuality and decided to fight till death. Thapa sacrificed his life in Middle sector (Upper Subansiridistrict) while protecting Mother India. His mortal remains were brought to Lemiking, last rites performed and a grave built there. The neglected grave and a bridge named after him are evidences of his heroism.

"The first bridge, named after soldier Shere Thapa, with a 600m steep climb...." is the reference about him with picture of his grave found in 'Secrets of Subansiri, Himalayan Club, recoding the 2005 expedition report by a group of trekkers to famous Buddhist pilgrimage Takpa Shiri; Arunachal Expedition - Takpa Shiri; In Search of Old Pilgrimage Route to Takpa Siri 2005 and India 2005 - Alpine Journal.
Thapa knew well that without any road and communication then, expecting any support from the base camp was well neigh impossible. He decided to face the enemies as a brave soldier of Mother India. Shouldn't he be recognized, albeit late, and due honour given by bringing his heroic story before the nation.

I presumed that martyr Shere Thapa,  might not have a god father or a senior Army officer to recommend their brave act. But with facts surfacing, it is still not late to honour them. By Pradeep Kumar (ANI).

We appreciate and grateful to Hon’ble Minister Tourism Shri Nakap Nalo for rediscovering buried  story of our True Hero, a Martyr of 1962 war Late Hav. Shere Thapa.

 Via All Arunachal Pradesh Gorkha Welfare Youth Association

Brief historical trajectory of Darjeeling-Duars region and the need for a permanent political solution

10:17 AM
On April 8, 2019, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its 48 pages electoral manifesto with regard to Lok Sabha Election 2019, has immense significance for the Darjeeling Duars region. Page 36 of the manifesto talks about political resolution on the matter of Gorkha and with two important highlights:

  • Recognition of the 11 left out Indian Gorkha sub-tribes as Scheduled Tribes. We are also committed to implement the reservation in the legislative assembly of Sikkim for Limboo and Tamang Tribes.
  • Commitment to work towards finding a permanent political solution to the issue of Darjeeling hills, Siliguri Terai and Dooars region.
Both the commitments have been, by and large, well appreciated, welcomed and positively taken by the Gorkhas, Rajbansis and Adivasis residing in the region.  
BJP Election Manifesto 2019 – sections relevant to Gorkhas and Darjeeling region
BJP Election Manifesto 2019 – sections relevant to Gorkhas and Darjeeling region

While the first commitment on the Gorkhas has found place in the national manifesto of BJP for the first time, the second commitment is not new to the Gorkhas and other groups. BJP has been committing and recommitting on the very critical second issue for the last three Lok Sabha Elections.

Recognition of the 11 left out Indian Gorkha sub-tribes as Scheduled Tribes

BJP’s clear commitment to recognize the 11 left out Indian Gorkha sub-tribes as Scheduled Tribes has found its place in its national manifesto for the first time, although the process has been under consideration for the last five years under the BJP led government. It has been long overdue as the West Bengal state cabinet approved granting of ST status to 11 Gorkha sub-tribes before the last Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and sent it to the Centre for consideration and approval. The Union ministry for Tribal Affairs constituted a high powered committee in 2016 which had visited Darjeeling as well as Sikkim and met representatives of the various sub-tribes namely Bhujel, Gurung, Magar, Rai, Khas, Newar, Jogi, Sunwar, Yakha (Dewan), Thami and Dhimal. Gorkhas are yet the formally hear any concrete decision of the Government in this regard. The commitment by the BJP in its manifesto on this issue is, therefore, a welcome step.

Permanent political solution to the issue of Darjeeling hills, Siliguri Terai and Dooars region

BJP for the third time has recommitted for finding a political solution to over century old regional political aspirations of Darjeelinghills, Siliguri Terai and Dooars.However, this time, BJP has taken a holistic/inclusive approach towards Darjeeling constituency, as against the last two manifestos of 2009 and 2014 where BJP stated that it will “sympathetically examine and appropriately consider the long pending demands of the Gorkhas, the Adivasis and other people of Darjeeling district and the Dooars region” The last two approaches were, therefore, people specific and little communal in nature.  
This time the approach is region specific and therefore inclusive and more holistic in its nature. We should remember that other social groups besides Gorkhas and Adivasis also inhabit the constituency.  The term ‘Political Solution’ needs to be read, understood and internalised in proper perspective.
Historical trajectory of Darjeeling-Duars Region and the need for a permanent political solution
The second commitment of BJP is more critical at this juncture needing further debate and clearer ways forward. Towards that end, it is cardinal that we carefully navigate the historical trajectory of the region. This becomes important for our consumption as well as for guidance of the politicians and policymakers to make informed decisions while they attempt to find a permanent political solution of the issues at hand with regard to the historical and current political realities of the region.
Histories of Darjeeling-Duar region unfold the fact that the geopolitical situation in the region had (have) never been stable. The region passed through a number of vulnerable positions and different events in history, each having marked effects in the region and its people.

Political History

Politically, Darjeeling-Duars never belonged to West Bengal. The region was ruled by Sikkim, Bhutan and Nepal. This has been admitted by the Government of West Bengal in a White Paper published in 1986.
The most important year in the history of the region happens to be 1642 when the first Chogyal (Bhutia king) of Sikkim, Phuntshog Namgyal was consecrated. Once in power the Namgyal had to face numerous rebellions from people who were already living in the region. The toughest resistance to the Chogyal came from three communities Lepchas, Limbus and Mangars, out of whom the Mangars were beaten and pushed westward.
The Chogyal then entered a sacred treaty popularly known as lhomen-tsong-sum (lho-Bhutias, men-Lepchas, tsong-Limbus, and sum-three), thus giving us the Bhutia-Lepcha-Limbu trinity. This is the bedrock on which the kingdom of Sikkim was formed.
The three Himalayan Hillmen – Lepcha, Nepali and Bhutia, 1880s
The three Himalayan Hillmen – Lepcha, Nepali and Bhutia, 1880s

 Based on available historical records, the political contour of Darjeeling and Duars may briefly be summarized as under:
PeriodPolitical Events
Priorto 1706The present district of Darjeeling and Duars were part of the Kingdom of Sikkim
1706Kalimpong hills along with the adjoining Duars were annexed by Bhutan.
1777Darjeeling along with its adjoining hills (Kurseong) and adjacent Terai (Siliguri) was appropriated by the Gorkha kingdom from the Kingdom of Sikkim.
1816Sugauli Treaty signed between East India Company (EIC) and King of Nepal, handing over Darjeeling region to EIC.
1817Treaty of Titaliya signed between East India Company and King of Sikkim, through which EIC returned Darjeeling region to the Kingdom of Sikkim.
1835Darjeeling along with its adjoining hills (Kurseong) was leased to British India by the King of Sikkim
1850The adjoining Terai (Siliguri) was taken over by British India and included in Jalpaiguri District
1865Kalimpong hills along with adjoining Duars were annexed by British India and included in Jalpaiguri district
1866The hills of Kalimpong were included in Darjeeling district leaving the Duars under Jalpaiguri district
1880Siliguri was taken out from Jalpaiguri and included in Darjeeling district, according the district its final shape
1905The district in the present shape (including Kalimpong) was included in the Bhagalpur Division, Bihar (Undivided Bengal)
1912The district was included in the Rajshahi Division under British India  (now in Bangladesh)
After 1947After the independence, the status of the district was ambiguous and in fact locals were not sure if Darjeeling was part of India or East Pakistan (see the news clip below).
1948Sikkim’s king claimed for the return of Darjeeling tracts but the Government of India ignored the claim.
1956Government of India enacts The Absorbed Areas (Laws) Act, 1954 (Act XX of 1954), and Darjeeling was ‘absorbed’ into west Bengal without any consideration of local sentiments.
Ambiguity surrounding Darjeeling saw Pakistani flag flutter in Capital Hall for 5 days. 
[Source: Barun Roy, 2003, Fallen Cicada]
The forceful absorption of Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars in Bengal has caused and continues to cause the indigenous population of this region grave problems.
Up until 1971, this region was home to predominantly three major groups, the Gorkhas – which is an umbrella term to identify all the Indian nationals who are ethnically Nepali or whose lingua franca is Nepali (Lepchas, Bhutias etc), the Rajbanshis and the Adivasis. Though there were Bengalis living in this region, they were only handful in numbers.
However, following the India-Pakistan conflict of 1965, a large influx of refugees from Bangladesh started to enter north-Bengal, and this trickle turned into an ocean of refugees following the Bangladesh war of liberation in 1971. Supported by successive governments of West Bengal as their ‘vote bank’, there have been a huge influx of people from Bangladesh into north Bengal, thus changing the entire demographics of our region significantly, and the original people of the region – the Gorkhas, the Rajbanshis and the Adivasis have ended up becoming minorities in our own lands.

Administrative History

Administratively, the district of Darjeeling was never included in the mainstream development process till the independence of India. It was always treated as a special region administered directly by the Governor General. 
Broad administrative profile of Darjeeling district may be summarized as under:
PeriodAdministrative StatusRemarks
Prior to 1861Non Regulated AreaActs and Regulations did not come to force unless specially extended to it. The Governor General possessed the power of adopting legislation by means of executive order.
1861-70Regulated AreaActs and Regulations normally applied in the district
1870-74Non Regulated Area  Acts and Regulations did not come to force unless specially extended to it. The Governor General possessed the power of adopting legislation by means of executive order
1874-1919Scheduled DistrictNormal legislation and jurisdictions were in force only in part or with modification if necessary of any enactment in force at a time.
1919-1935Backward TractThe district was excluded and declared a “Backward Tract” and administration was under Governor in Council. Any act passed by Bengal government wouldn’t be applicable to Darjeeling district unless the Governor in Council approved it.  
1935-47Partially Excluded AreaNo Act either of the Federal Legislature or of the Provincial Legislature was to be extended until and unless the governor of the province would give his assent to application of the Act in its entirety or with such modifications or exception as he thought necessary. Further the governor was empowered to make regulations and the regulations thus made could annul any federal or provincial or Indian law in existence in case their non-conformity to the relations thus made.
Post Independence1956Merged into West BengalThe Absorbed Areas (Laws) Act, 1954 (see Schedule 5) apportioned and merged the district into the state of West Bengal
1988-2010Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC)DGHC Act of 1988 led to the formation of an autonomous council consisting of the three hill subdivisions of the district and some mauzas of Siliguri Sub-Division for the socio-economic and cultural development of the hill areas of the district.
2011- till dateGorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA)GTA Act of 2011 led to the formation Gorkhaland Territorial Administration consisting of the three hill subdivisions and some mauzas of the district for the socio-economic and cultural development of the people.

Struggle for Administrative Status

It is pertinent to recollect that the Gorkhas (inclusive of Nepalis, Lepchas, Bhutias), Rajbanshis and Adibasis residing in Darjeeling-Duars region of Northern West Bengal with diverse and rich history have always felt neglected and deprived and have been demanding a separate state within the constitutional framework of India since 1907. They have raised the issues of how their resources including tea, cinchona, forest, water and biodiversity have been exploitatively harnessed by the Bengal Government without extending them any major development benefits. They have highlighted issues of identity and culture and gradual uprooting of the indigenous people from areas like Siliguri by the steadily increasing large-scale migration from Bangladesh.
The setting up of a new politico-administrative units in the forms of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration  (GTA) and their poor functioning in the last 30 years has further confirmed their fear that the State Government is consciously neglecting them and that they have been kept out of the mainstream development process.
Chronology of demands made by the Gorkhas may be summarized as under:
YearOrganisation /PartyPrimary Demand
1907Leaders of the Hill MenSeparate administrative set up
1917, 1929Representatives of the Darjeeling districtCreation of a separate unit of Darjeeling & dooars of Jalpaiguri or the creation of NEFP consisting of Darjeeling, dooars, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh
1930Hill People’s AssociationExclusion from Bengal and be treated as an independent administrative unit with DC as an administrator with much more power than the DM along with the executive council for assistance of the administration
1934All India Gorkha LeagueInclusion of Darjeeling and the dooars of Jalpaiguri in the province of Assam
1947Communist Party of India, District Committee, Darjeeling.‘Gorkhasthan’:  A separate nation comprising of Nepal, Darjeeling district and Sikkim excluding the present north district  
1949All India Gorkha League  ‘Uttarakhand’ which could be formed on the following areas: Darjeeling, Sikkim, Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar or Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar or Darjeeling district and Sikkim or Darjeeling district alone
1954, 1957, 1967, 1968All India Gorkha League  Regional Autonomy- Autonomous administrative set up of Darjeeling and neighbouring districts with Nepali speaking people in majority.
1980-88Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)Separate state of Gorkhaland comprising of Darjeeling district and the dooars region of the Jalpaiguri District
2005Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)Inclusion of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) under Sixth Schedule of the India Constitution.
2007-11, 2013Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJMM)Separate state of Gorkhaland comprising of Darjeeling district and the dooars region of the Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar Districts
2017Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, entire Indian Gorkha Community and Global Gorkha DiasporaSeparate state of Gorkhaland comprising of Darjeeling district and the dooars region of the Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar Districts
It is, therefore, clear to assert that the district of Darjeeling and Dooars had been kept outside the purview of general administration and that it remained more or less isolated throughout the greater part of British rule in India.  One can, also, safely assert that throughout the British rule the rulers on any occasion never allowed the district of Darjeeling to come within the national mainstream and within the purview of the general administration.
Considering the political and administrative history of Darjeeling-Duars, one often wonders why this region has been kept within the administrative preview of West Bengal in the first place?
In this connection, it is important for the larger public to understand that among other relevant factors for the state re-organisation, State Reorganization Commission considered language & culture and financial viability important. However, both of these factors were overlooked and Darjeeling-Duars was merged into West Bengal with high level of politics played by BC Roy and the then congress party [see Politics of Autonomy: Indian Experiences (2005) edited by Ranabir Samaddar].
The region was merged into West Bengal without any consultation with the Gorkhas, Adibasis and other people living in the area during early 1950s and against the will of the larger population residing in the region.
Absorbed Area Act (1954) also sheds light on the issues of the absorption of Darjeeling district in the West Bengal. There was also a very strong lobby to form a state called ‘Uttarakhand’ consisting of Sikkim, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch-behar that eventually did not fructify.
Therefore, the very idea that Darjeeling-Duars being an integral part of West Bengal and the fake cry of ‘banga bhanga hobena’ often publicized by Bengalis and Bengal Government has no teeth. It is unfounded, illogical and just an emotional ‘rhetoric’. BC Roy and his team treacherously merged the region into West Bengal without consulting the vulnerable, gullible, peace loving Gorkhas, Rajbanshis and Adibasis in the 1950s.
The Gorkhas, Adivasis and Rajbanshis now want to de-merge the region from West Bengal and have our own governance.
A permanent political solution – in the form of a State or Union Territory would indeed go a long way in rectifying the historic wrong.
Via The DC
 
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