Showing posts with label Gorkhaland agitation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gorkhaland agitation. Show all posts

A crisis within crisis: The fault line of India’s longest statehood demand- Gorkhaland

3:54 PM
By SHWETA RAJ KANWAR 

100 years and more, the longest statehood demand in India’s history, the demand for Gorkhaland has, many times reached its peak; and yet has always come tumbling down. Time and again, the unfulfilled aspirations have been doused by temporary promises and in 2017, the ‘Queen of Hills’ was under siege as Gorkhas all around the world stood in unison against this incessant predicament of proving their identity as Indian citizens. Despite dating back to 1907, why is it that the demand for Gorkhaland has fallen into deaf ears? Why is it that despite agitations and protests, the issue still lays unresolved, pushed into the corner of nothingness- like a dormant volcano that erupts from time to time, only to be silenced again. What is it that reignites this movement time and again at regular intervals and leaves it without any solution?
India’s longest statehood demand- Gorkhaland
India’s longest statehood demand- Gorkhaland

History of Gorkhaland demand

The demand for a separate administrative unit in Darjeeling has existed since 1907, when the Hillmen’s Association of Darjeeling submitted a memorandum to Minto-Morley Reforms demanding a separate administrative setup. Also, it may be mentioned that in 1947, the undivided Communist Party of India (CPI) submitted a memorandum to the Constituent Assembly demanding the formation of Gorkhasthan comprising Darjeeling District and Sikkim.

In the 1980s, under Gorkha National Liberation Front’s (GNLF) Subhas Ghising, the movement reached its peak. 1986-88 were on of the most violent years of protest: approximately 1,200 people died. The agitation ultimately led to the establishment of a semi-autonomous body in 1988 called the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) to govern certain areas of Darjeeling district. Eventually, Ghising faded from the limelight and in 2008, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) began spearheading the movement. In 2011, GJM signed an agreement with the state and central governments for the formation of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, another semi-autonomous body that replaced the DGHC in the Darjeeling hills.

The 2013 agitation was also one to remember wherein for the first time in 106 years, all the major political parties of the hills agreed to come together and jointly take the agitation forward. Even in 2017, the agitation bore no fruits. Protests first started on June 5, after the West Bengal government announced an intention that the Bengali language would be made mandatory in all schools across the state. People of Darjeeling and the adjoining areas who are predominantly Nepali speaking, saw this as an imposition of an alien culture upon them. Fuelled by the determination to preserve their own culture, identity and language, this protest soon turned into a full-fledged resurgence of the agitation for a separate state of Gorkhaland. July 30, 2017 saw the culmination of Gorkhas (and also some non-Gorkhas) all over the world taking part in a Global Rally for Gorkhaland. And as the Gorkha Global Rally completes a year in 2018, the issue still remains at large.

Where the problem lies
As is evident from history, agitations and semi-autonomous bodies have not been able to provide any respite to the Gorkhas’ demand. What is clearly lacking here is an accountable and transparent leadership- one that inspires not only a group of people but that which motivates everyone to come along with him/her and move forward for a common cause with renewed strategies and fresh perspectives.

On these lines, Shankar Pandey, a lawyer from Shillong opines, “Talking about leadership, accountable and transparent leadership is the need of the hour. It may be recalled that during Subhash Ghishing’s time, everybody looked up to him in the hope that he would give them Gorkhaland in a platter but the results proved otherwise. In 2017 again, it was the same state of affairs. However, a close look in the 2017 agitation will show a difference in strategic approach. It has been seen that people have learnt their lessons and GJM chief, Bimal Gurung was at the centre of the storm as people were on the lookout for accountability and transparency.”

It has been seen time and again that the major problem with Gorkhaland movement is the attitude of shifting responsibilities to one person or a group of people who display a level of ‘so-called’ leadership which is not even visible to common masses. It is significant to realise that the onus of Gorkhaland falls upon each and every Gorkha residing in any part of the world. Another major problem with the Gorkhaland demand is the presence of power corridor- A sense of democracy needs to be instilled in the minds of leaders.

“Gorkhaland is purely a matter of safeguarding identity”, Mr. Shankar adds. “When we compare the demand for Gorkhaland to those of Telangana, Uttarakhand and the likes, we see that the demand for these states was solely made from developmental point of view but this is definitely not the case with Gorkhaland. However, this does not mean that development is not a major factor in Darjeeling Hills, but identity is a primary force while all others feature subsequently”, he states.

The problem of identity crisis has been haunting the Gorkhas in India since times immemorial. Hence, this is not a fight for a separation from India but a fight of Indians to retain who they are!

Mr. Shankar makes an important point when he says, “The issue of identity can only be solved by statehood and not by any form of autonomous body of governance that has been seen as a solution to douse previous agitations. This is an attempt to dilute the greater demand”.

What is the solution?

“There is a need to set up a mass network of which each and every Gorkha can be part of a larger platform. The movement should not be confined to only the hills of Darjeeling but to all over India. Everybody should come together and take responsibility. There should be Gorkhaland campaigns and we should hold leadership accountable to us. There is no proper information dissemination. Knowledge is power and lack of knowledge makes the people and movement weak”, says Mr. Shankar.

The need for alternate leadership with young people from all fronts of life is the need of the hour. Youth should take up responsibility to cover up the limitations in the movement. A fresh approach is needed. Darjeeling is lagging behind in every front in terms of overall development as compared to other states of West Bengal which all the more justifies the need for demand of separate statehood.

It is a test of endurance and this is not the time to fade away into oblivion. This is infact the only movement that says that Gorkhas want to be part of India with an identity of their own. It is not about ‘Azaadi’ here, it is about ‘Identity’ while upholding the saying ‘Bharat Maata ki Jai!’

“Gorkhaland is not only about protests and agitation. It is time to understand that there are other more influential methods of demanding the same. It is high time we change our approach and work together smartly for a common cause. Even at the grassroot level, it is important for people to know what the movement is all about so that they can form opinions and work towards attainment of a larger cause. Ignorance in this case is definitely not bliss”, he adds

Founding Vice Chancellor of Sikkim University, Mahendra P Lama, while addressing a gathering in Shillong, Meghalaya on the Gorkhaland movement last year also drew focus to an important point when he said, “The problem of Gorkhaland does not belong to only Darjeeling alone but it is a national issue. The identity problem with Indian Gorkhas has increased manifold as we do not have a proper state representation”. Mr Lama was the pro vice chancellor of IGNOU and at the age of 45, he became the youngest vice chancellor of a central university in India.

He emphasises on the need to create a central committee to bring matters concerning all Gorkhas into the fray. For this, Mr. Lama stresses on the need for an organizational structure in the form of a central body that would overarch the national body and the inclusion of a national negotiating team as well. Following this, the next step would be to take the Gorkhaland issue to the National level with Parliamentary discussions on it. The issue should reach political parties, national civil society and other stakeholders including industrial and business houses.

He goes on to state that the orientation of the movement should undergo a major shift from emotional outpourings to more concrete discussions and debate. Tangible restructuring and reorientation of leadership pattern and political action should be carried out while also focusing more on central government to solve the issue rather than approaching the state government thereby confining the movement only to local fronts. It is important that a central committee should comprise of credible faces and influential minds so that the union government will take the plunge and be serious about negotiations.

Gaurav Lama, a supporter of Gorkhaland movement adds, “The movement in 2017 gained much more attraction due to social media. While it is good that the common man was honestly and strenuously involved, we must strive to strike deep into the BJP camp to make inroads. We must try to convince top BJP heads to push this matter forward.

The ruling government must prove to be more than just another power greedy party. They must come forth and stand by their promise of working on making Gorkhaland a reality. This can be achieved only if the senior BJP leaders are serious about Gorkhaland and if there are a bunch of people who shall talk to and remind the BJP senior hierarchy that they have their promises to keep.”

As is rightly said, “We have to tread the unorthodox path. A desperate situation requires a desperate solution”-Mahendra P.Lama

DISCLAIMER- The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TNT- The Northeast Today. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of TNT- The Northeast Today

The writer can be reached at shwetarajkanwar@gmail.com & shweta@thenortheasttoday.com

Via The Northeast Today

REMEMBERING THE MARTYRS OF GORKHALAND AGITATION

8:03 PM

REMEMBERING THE MARTYRS: "I regret that I have only one son to sacrifice for Gorkhaland" - The Gorkha Mother

Writes: Chandan Pariyar

Every time a gust of smoke comes out of the barrel of a gun, its ominous sound, floating with the clouds, worried hearts beat faster, but somewhere, the heart of a mother bleeds to death. How must it feel for her, when her son who had promised to come back in the evening from the rally, returned home instead with a crown of bullets on his head. The sight of her son's body being brought home on four shoulders gives her great pain, much greater than the pain she felt during his birth.
She dies a thousand times feeling her son's cold body.

All the memories of the past, accomplishments of the present and hopes of the future, lay wrapped in the white cloth that covered his face. Like every mother, she had hoped that her son would be by her side, taking care of her when her age old limbs confined her to bed, that he would carry her to Sinchel Dham, when she was not able to walk in her last days. Now as the rolling mist came down and hid the town, the roaring sounds of "Jai Gorkha! Jai Gorkhaland!" reverberated across the valley, she could see in the moonbeams his silver hands and silver eyes. Just last night, the mother and son had sat together on the verandah, talking about their plans for celebration of what would be the most joyful day of their lives - the formation of Gorkhaland. But sadly, life had different plans for them.

He had woken up late that day and asked her to pack some roti and sabzi for him to carry. If only she had known he would meet his fate that day, she would have fed him with her own hands. If only she had got him married when he had asked, he would have at least left her a grandchild, his legacy. If only...

During the 80s, he had seen his father climb the hill at the back of their house, every evening as the light fell short, and take shelter in the jungle along with others. He could not understand why his father had to leave the house and he asked his mother every day. Then when the CRPF raided his house in search of his father, he had found his answer. Even then, as a child, he had tried to express his anger by throwing stones at the raiding party as they were leaving, and his mother had run to stop him. As she sat beside him, gently cleaning the blood off his face, all these memories passed through her mind.

Now a large crowd was gathering in her house. They spilled across the verandah and into the road below and beyond. People of all ages, caste and creed, irrespective of their religion and status, had come to bid her son farewell, and to catch a glimpse of the fallen hero. 'Who were these people who had gathered here?' She wondered. 'Where had they come from'. And in that painful moment, her heart swelled with pride, and she was released from the agony of losing her only son. She consoled herself that he had given up his life for a great cause, and in this she found renewed courage and strength. Suddenly she felt a great sense of hurriedness crop in her, an urgency to get over with the rituals quickly - 'There are more sons who have died, and these people must go and console their mothers too' She said to herself.  As she kissed him on his forehead for one last time, she promised him that his sacrifice would not go in vain.

As the mist followed the crowd to the burial place, the cries of 'Jai Gorkha! Jai Gorkhaland!! Long live our Shahid (Martyr)!!' could be heard from every nook and corner of the town. People followed with their khadas and respect for the shahid, every lip carrying a prayer for him. There was not a dry eye in the crowd, as the flames engulfed his body. She looked around at the countless unknown faces in the crowd, brought together only by the cause her son died for, and right at that moment her heart found resounding assurance and she felt a surge of energy within her. She knew the fight would go on.

The mother stood in the corner, amidst the mass of people and murmured to herself  "I regret that I have only one son to sacrifice for Gorkhaland".

Via TheDC

Rajiv Gandhi's Darjeeling visit during 1986 Gorkhaland agitation

9:54 AM

REMEMBERING: Rajiv Gandhi

During the height of Gorkhaland andolan in 1986-88 the then Prime Minister Shri. Rajiv Gandhi had visited Darjeeling...

But that was the time when Shri. Subash Ghising's GNLF ruled the roost... and the GNLF had called for a boycott of the Prime Minister due to the atrocities meted out against us by the CRPF and other forces.

Via TheDC

Despite the protest Shri. Rajiv Gandhi did come to Darjeeling and gave a speech at an almost empty NP school ground.

One of his closest aide was miffed at the fact that no one was present at the ground to attend the Prime Minister's rally other than the security forces, so he suggested that Shri. Rajiv Gandhi forgo his speech and return back to Delhi.

But despite opposition from his closest aide Shri Rajiv Gandhi refused to listen to anyone and gave his speech the way he wanted, even though in an empty stadium.

When one of his closest aides asked him why would he humiliate giving a speech at an empty venue? Shri. Rajiv Gandhi is said to have told his aide... "Even if they cannot come to see me, they can still hear me.."

While addressing the people gathered at the North Point ground, (the then) Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi said, “Gorkhas are intermingled with the Indian culture. The Gorkha brothers have shed their blood for the sake of the country before and during the freedom struggle.” There was emotional outburst from the hill people to his remark for it was the first time by any Prime Minister of India who praised the glory of Gorkhas.

Rajiv had further said "Bengal is not for Bengali people alone, it is for the people of Gorkhas too. Gorkhas must not be treated second class citizens here."     

He was a visionary nation builder to say the least and had he not died an untimely death, the history of Darjeeling and the Gorkhas could have been very different.

Gorkhaland 2017: When Miracles Failed and Criticism Invited FIRs

8:28 AM

Writes - @oyeketa

During the 104 days of the shutdown, Darjeeling experienced what every political uprising faces - blockades, food scarcity, police brutality, unlawful arrests, media-blackout, and everything else that can make any movement fall on its knees. But, what broke the back of Gorkhaland agitation in 2017 was its dependence on the ‘miracles of Delhi’ and lack of vision of the incumbent Hills leadership. When the miracle story failed to deliver, the incumbent Hills leadership had to run for covers, lost its credibility, and were exposed for their gross mismanagement Gorkhaland administration in 10-years tenure.

Everybody believed that the GTA, with all its limitation, could have brought major changes in the region. However, the ruling party of the Hills chose to sleep through it for 10 years, before being alarmed by the end their term. The fact is that the politicians never took GTA seriously, and it was only used as an excuse to embalm the egos self-proclaimed leaders.

It was not the public who needed Miracles, it was the Leaders. The public was tired equally of a failed leadership, as it was of the Police brutality. Tragically, the frustration reached a level where the public simply didn’t care. Leaders who were till now sitting on the fence until now too timid to speak up suddenly found a reason to rejuvenate when the promised Miracles failed to arrive and they quickly jumped into the pool.

Without a strong or accountable leader on the ground, rising food scarcity, it was just about a matter of time before the public would receive with both arms whatever little they get from the State government. Today, there is a semblance of normality in Darjeeling Hills, restored through a proxy administration, special economic packages and even forceful coercion. Democracy is yet to shine. But is Darjeeling happy and smiling? I will leave that for you to answer.

Amidst the deaths, heavy police crack-down, and economic hardships, Darjeeling lost control of the Gorkhaland issue and the movement had to be outsourced to people and organizations living outside the region. Starting June 2017, the Gorkhaland movement had its own little 'Arab Spring' moment, whereby the movement which till now was confined to the Hills, spread like wildfire across the globe. It was for the first time in its history of 107-years that Nepali-speaking people of the world came together to show their solidarity and support for the movement. Right from Manipur to Mumbai, and Bangaluru to Kashmir and Kathmandu, UAE, North America, Israel, Hongkong, and Europe, people stood up for Darjeeling. All thanks to Interment and Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and WhatsApp.

It is highly debatable whether the global outcry and Facebookization of Gorkhaland issue actually benefitted the movement. But, thanks to the mobilization, funds were collected to send food to the Hills during the shutdown and to organize legal aid for any other assistance victims. Neither the fund recipients nor the donors are talking about it, is a different matter altogether.

One section of the public is happy and satisfied to see their Social Media walls filled with Gorkhaland protests and support across the globe. Movement supporters and sympathizers were able to speak up, disagree, and even exchange ideas. At the surface, it appeared that the Gorkhaland movement has finally opened up for democratic reforms where people could share ideas and collaborate.

However, there is another section that thinks while the publicity was good, it has created further divisions and polarized groups into extremes. The Leadership vacuum in the 2017 agitation has opened grounds for different individuals and organizations to assume a leadership position. Certainly, ‘the more, the merrier’ did not bring any good. The coveted Gorkhaland leadership soon became the tug-of-war, and the actual issue gets sidelined. The problem becomes dangerous when each group begins to think of themselves as the saviour of the Gorkhaland movement, the place, and its people.

The Politics of Criticism:

Some individuals, parties, and groups spearheading the 2017 agitation grew bigger than the ‘Cause’ itself. And as is the routine, when you become big and powerful, you don’t like dissenters. Any chapter of a history book is full of such example, and Gorkhaland is no exception.

We have witnessed right from the 1980s, that Gorkhaland has very little tolerance for opposition and criticism. The forceful exodus of dissenters, political murders, and persecution are normal to us.

Legal jargons and constitutional terminologies were also a mainstay of the 2017 agitation. The level of legal consciousness is highly praiseworthy but becomes worrisome when it also becomes a tool for threatening anyone who raises a question or criticizes a move. Court notices, FIRs, threats of defamation have been used against one another by those who claim to fight for Gorkhaland.

From a condescending ‘your criticism makes us strong’ to filing FIRs, and threats of defamation became the new tool against those criticizing and demanding accountability. Legal notices, court orders, were sent for criticizing leaders, organization, or even seeking financial accountability. The only difference from the past is that it is done in a much more polite and sophisticated manner than in the past. The underlying message remains the same though – Fall in Line or you Shall be brought down.

So, the bigger question is 'what about Gorkhaland? What good did the global outcry yield for Darjeeling? Are the problems of education, economic sustenance, poverty, employment, any better now? What about the people who sent truckloads of food during the shutdown? Will they need another shutdown to be awakened again? Are we doing anything to uplift education? Is any group adopting villages and schools that was planned so much during the emergency? Is anyone volunteering to help students improve?

To be honest, I cannot sacrifice my comfortable job and life to worry about these petty things. When there is another emergency, I shall send whatever is possible and will help with likes and shares on Social media. What will you Do?

Via TheDC

Darjeeling Unrest 2017: From an agitation to a Leadership Contest

1:55 PM

Writes: Dinesh Sharma

The Gorkhaland agitation of 2017 has been an eye-opener in many aspects. While it did not yield the desired results even after 104 days of the shutdown, it did manage to bring out the inner demon in us, exposing our vulnerabilities, our inability to trust one another, and utter disrespect for the institution of Democracy. The agitation became an open ground for public, politicians, and CSOs for mud-slinging each other and trying to exploit the situation to their advantage.

After the police firing and death of protestors, internet and media shutdown Darjeeling was virtually cut-off from the world. The administration forcefully took the protests off the streets, deploying thousands of para-military forces across the Hills.  With an emotionally charged public and a witch-hunt like a crackdown on Gorkhaland supporters by the administration, Darjeeling was a ticking bomb threatening to explode any time, bringing back the memories of the 1980s violent agitation.

A wise man (name withheld to avoid police persecution) from the Hills observed “call it unfortunate or otherwise, the 2017 agitation was like an audition for ‘Gorkhaland Got Leaders’ show with individuals and organizations staking their claim to the title. The bigger irony is when flag bearers of the movement abandoned Darjeeling, and the epicentre of the movement shifted to Delhi.”

“This is where Delhi protests came to the rescue of the Government” the wise man adds. “Delhi was too far for the West Bengal Government to even take it seriously.”

However, for the Hills political leaders who were too timid and afraid to speak against the government back home, Delhi offered a safe sanctuary. Here, away from the killing fields of Darjeeling.  Delhi became the pilgrimage for all Hill leaders to wash their guilt. It offered them a chance to establish a connection and find relevance to the movement, and they came prepared with the Gorkhaland rhetoric and lofty speeches.

As always, the ignorant and gullible public of Darjeeling believed that the activities in Delhi were a proof that Gorkhaland has become a national discourse and the Central Government would have to come to their rescue sooner or later. It gave a false hope that Gorkhaland could now be a possibility. Roadmaps and vision for Gorkhaland were being discussed in Delhi, while in Darjeeling Hills where it actually mattered, people were still cut-off and were now fighting for survival amidst a total shutdown and food scarcity.

For the ‘educated, sophisticated, and the social-media savvy’ crowd of Delhi, the time had finally come to have a say. Overnight, Samitis and Committees were formed to spearhead the movement. In Delhi, you could speak for Gorkhaland, curse anyone, say anything, without having to worry about courting arrest, staying hungry, or getting shot in police firing. More importantly, organizers made sure to organize events and activities over the weekend to make it convenient for everyone to attend. It was very well organized.

But, the affairs in Delhi soon became monstrous with personal and political biases taking the center stage, rather than the issue of Gorkhaland. Without the threat of being arrested or being a political target, Delhi made much more noise than Darjeeling, to a point where the frontrunners of Delhi protests began to dictate terms on the course of the movement. They wanted a pie of everything, right from a seat reserved at the negotiation table to issuing certificates and approvals of the political leadership in the Hills. And they did so without even having to step a foot in Darjeeling or having a first-hand experience of the ground situation. Intellectuals and eminent personalities soon joined the protestors in Delhi, rendering their advice and services freely. The same intellectuals would later go on to form other ‘eminent organization’ for themselves is another matter.

So, where did Delhi go irrevocably wrong?

If you remember, there was an all-party Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) formed during the peak of the agitation with members from different Hills political parties and intellectuals of the Gorkha community. The GMCC had a wide public support as a think-tank and everybody wanted to be part of GMCC.

As part of a trust-building measure and garnering support, different Delhi-based groups pressurized the GMCC to hold a meeting with the public in Delhi. However, behind the scene was a more sinister plan to disrupt and break the GMCC, by people and organizations who were not invited to be part of it.

An orchestrated assault on members during the GMCC meeting in Delhi was the final nail in the coffin. As the old adage goes “if I am not in it, I won’t let it be” proved true in this case. In a not-so-surprising move, just a few days after the incident, a committee was formed by with the tagline “Group of eminent Gorkha personalities” by members who were once spearheading the GMCC. Currently, the committee is struggling hard to find its relevance in a post-agitation phase and is last heard of preparing a ‘Vision Document for Gorkhaland.’ Strangely enough, the said committee has not even passed a single statement condemning the atrocities in Darjeeling, unwarranted arrests, or even the killings. They also observed solemn silence throughout the entire process of a new administration set up by the state government.

In Conclusion

The key takeaway this time has been the sad realization that the people of Darjeeling have no role in the politics of their land. The narrative is scripted outside of Darjeeling – in Delhi and Kolkata, and a template is handed over to the self-proclaimed political leadership, with strict rules on what to do and more importantly what not to do. Even the so-called local administrators have very little say in the politics of the land.

Democracy in theory roots for a ‘Government of the People, By the People, and For the People. As is the norm, the mandate of the majority public is integral to Democracy. However, the irony is that Gorkhaland, a movement that prides on being Constitutional and Democratic showed very little respect for it. Elected representatives were forced to flee the land, aspirations of the people trampled ruthlessly using brutal force, and the right to expression simply became a joke.

……..

Dinesh tweets under the handle @OyeKeta and can be reached at: https://twitter.com/OyeKeta

***NOTE: In context, Upendra had sounded an early warning bell against the same lot, you can read it here: https://facebook.com/TheDarjeelingChronicle/posts/899442646860184

Via TheDC

THE UNIQUE CASE OF GORKHALAND : A REVOLUTION FOR IDENTITY

4:58 PM

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]

Via C24

Gorkhaland agitation: GJM media manager Vikram Rai arrested; strike enters sixth day

10:13 AM

Vikram Rai, son of Darjeeling MLA Amar Rai and media manager of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), was arrested on Friday night, reported news agency ANI. Also, the residence of the Assistant General Secretary (GJM), Binay Tamang, was allegedly raided and vandalised by the police.

Meanwhile, the indefinite strike called in support of a separate Gorkhland state entered its sixth day on Saturday. The agitation in Darjeeling began after the West Bengal government announced making Bengali a mandatory language in schools. There have been reports of violent clashes between the security personnel, police and the protesters too.

Earlier on Friday, GJM chief Bimal Gurung had also lashed out at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for raiding his office. “The administration unlawfully attacked my house and our party office on instructions from Mamata Banerjee. Such attack is dangerous for democracy. Our party members and opposition parties will reply to that atrocity,” ANI quoted him as saying.

Meanwhile, the central government on Friday stated it will not send additional paramilitary personnel to Darjeeling until the state government submitted a report detailing the current situation in the area. A Home Ministry spokesperson said: “We will take a decision on sending additional paramilitary forces only when we make an assessment of the prevailing situation… It is possible only when we receive a report from the state government.”

The Centre has already deployed 1,000 paramilitary personnel, including 200 women personnel, in Darjeeling following the request of the state government.

(In photo Vikram Rai)

Via Indian Express

Darjeeling unrest - Center committed to help Mamata Banerjee

9:37 AM

"CENTER HANDS OFF IN #DARJEELING" - Reports Telegraph

The Centre is not thinking of any direct intervention in Darjeeling at this stage and is committed to helping the Mamata Banerjee government if it seeks any assistance, a senior home ministry official told The Telegraph yesterday.

"At this stage, there is no question of sending any central team to Darjeeling.... Any interference in Bengal at this juncture will only snowball into a political row," the home ministry official said.

Yesterday, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had sought immediate intervention by the Centre.

Another home ministry official pointed out that law and order was a state subject. "We will offer our help if the Bengal government seeks the Centre's assistance," the official said. "We are not in a hurry to send a team to Darjeeling."

On the ground in the hills, the Bengal government took the battle to the Morcha by stationing police at the party's headquarters in Singamari and pushing its supporters out of their comfort zone - the first such move since the statehood agitation was reignited a decade ago in 2007. At the Darjeeling district magistrate's office - the hub of state government offices - sources put the attendance at nearly 90 per cent.

Normal life was paralysed in Darjeeling today following a strike call by tea unions, which was supported by the Morcha.

On the political front, the Morcha, which is spearheading the ongoing indefinite agitation, and the Gorkha National Liberation Front, which was at the forefront of the violent campaign in the 1980s, came together for the first time and decided to pursue the Gorkhaland cause.

A Union home ministry official pointed out that the Centre had refrained from intervening in Madhya Pradesh, where a farmer flare-up had killed six people last week, and in Uttar Pradesh that witnessed caste clashes last month.

The Centre had confined itself to asking for a report from the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh on the continuing violence in Saharanpur. Similarly, it had sought a report last week from the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government on the violence in Madhya Pradesh.

"Likewise, we have also sought a report from the Bengal government on Darjeeling," the official said.

However, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said the Centre had not sought any report. "The hills are peaceful and the Centre did not seek any report from the state," the chief minister said while leaving Nabanna this evening.

Sources in Calcutta said the state had been informed that six more companies of central forces would be sent for deployment in the hills. "It will help us to some extent. We had six companies of central forces in the hills but three of them were withdrawn and taken to Kashmir after the law and order situation deteriorated there," said an official.

The sources in Delhi pointed out that home minister Rajnath Singh shared a good rapport with Mamata and the Centre did not want to create an impression that it was trying to fish in troubled waters.

[Via: Telegraph]

 
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