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

Paradoxically Popular: Poisoned People, Polluted Politics

3:10 PM

Writes: Vanira Khati

The Chief Minister of West Bengal declared, ‘Pahaad Haaschey!’ and to elucidate the point she put up huge digitally printed banners across the length and breadth of the State with her own  ‘haaschey‘ face. While here in Darjeeling our own  Pahaad hasaaunchey GNLF politicians Aapa ko chora Mann Ghising and Bish-Purush Neeraj Zimba are pulling all kinds of laughable spins from their old ‘Appa hat of tricks.’

For an understanding of this Gorkhey Laurel-Hardy Jodi with a thoroughly detoxifying laugh, let’s recount these two jokers’ dramatically random moves:

On behalf of the Gorkhaland Movement Neeraj Zimba drinks poison and sends a letter to his Didi

Firstly, who had even asked GNLF to send a letter to Nabanna? No one! Mind you, GMCC was in collective charge of the 2017 movement up until the time Zimba in a totally Bollywood move, apparently while drinking some imaginary poison called for a videographer who captured him doing the ‘poison-drinking’ hand gesture while he choked begrudgingly on it (for effect) and his hands moved in fluid motion on the keyboard…and that’s how he typed that fateful letter to the State asking for Bipartite talks.

Applause!!!

Now with the acting done successfully and having segued into a bipartite talk mode swiftly – off went our political leaders – not as a unified unit of crusaders for Gorkhaland, but as divided as could be, and we witnessed the movement meet its first roadblock with acting-induced intra politics right there. The result was, every party was on its own and hence there would be no one answerable to and no one to speak for the cause of Gorkhaland.

After his method acting video, Zimba went completely silent. And surprise of all surprises, Mann Ghising got his appointment letter from Nabanna to the GTA 2 BoA.

It was now his turn to act.

So with his eyes hung from all corners of his face, young Mann, our very own dynast displayed exemplary integrity and squeaked a little louder than usual while saying, come what may, he would not be accepting the order from Nabanna that was returning (GTA) to the hills what the hills had relinquished. And we, in the chaotic midst of Binay & Anit falling headlong into Didi’s bear trap and accepting her appointments, almost applauded for young Mann’s stellar display of mettle… waah! waah! hera paraai!

We ‘ALMOST’ applauded, but maybe too soon because thence came to the Hill Area Development Council – an estimated 10Cr property bequeathed to our dynast of the GNLF, probably for having broken the GMCC so effectively and with such hammed precision.

Aah well… let’s move ahead.

Didi gives an antidote HADC (antidote) to the (poisoned) ZIMBA

What is HADC hou? The dallai hills ko development board? Kasari? Ke ho? Kina? Nobody knew.

Forget our 1st generation educated, not even the illustrious 2nd generation educated among us could crack this cryptic HADC, and for some other cryptic reason again, Neeraj Zimba used tears this time to dissolve the uncertainty surrounding it. He called in a videographer (again) and went a step ahead of Poison with this crocodile tears exclusive.

His round face clenched tightly at his nose, poignantly he said, “HADC ta baato ma aansoo pucheyko jasto maatra ho.”

Whaaaattttt?

That’s right! He said HADC was akin to wiping hot tears on the way to Gorkhaland. The 1st and 2nd generation educated were again flung by the symbolism in the statement. There was profound meaning in his tears on the journey to Gorkhaland. There was passion, there was a deep sense of travel, a destination, a journey… it was all there, but sadly there was no point in trying to understand that statement, there still isn’t… so why don’t we just cut to the Jan Sabha?

Now with the GNLF letter sent, Nabanna letter received, letter unaccepted, new letter received, new letter accepted… GNLF had, through a forceful smash successfully made its comeback on the back of 104days of Strike & 13 hapless martyrs.

What was next? A show of strength! And why not?

A ‘bhavya’ GNLF Jan Sabha was organised in the middle of Darjeeling town. The venue although decked with a morbidly celebratory cornucopia of green looked like it was standing there holding its breath… just like most of us watching were.

After all, our sacrifices for the cause of Gorkhaland had just been sold. And all efforts were being raised and implemented to bring about a semblance of peace. And worst of all, we couldn’t act as well as our politicians could. Our hurt was real and we were struggling to heal.

Recently poisoned now revived Zimba in green Gorkhay topi holds a Jaan Sabha in Darjeeling.

The show always goes on for Neeraj Zimba, the day of the Jan Sabha was no exception. He waxed eloquent like he had just won the elections & thanked our lataa siidhaa people for the turnout. Watching Zimba & Mann in the Jan Sabha was like watching Don Quixote and Sancho Panza winning an imaginary people’s mandate and quite literally killing it with their make believe leadership. Many in the crowd got confused and ended up applauding. Spurred thus by the crowd, Mann compared himself to a sugarcane, he explained the symbolism that we could if we wanted, smash him or squash him, all that would come out of him wasguliyo ras (?)

Zimba on the other hand, in an artistic moment combined with a sleight of hand technique, flashed a green Gorkhey topi and wore it atop his head amidst his party workers’ cheering. His acting prowess thus displayed again, he went on to say that he had promised himself that he would wear a topi only when the hills would once again be covered in his party colour, green.

And hence it came to pass that barring logic, the Jan Sabha had everything that worked for these GNLF leaders.

Nattily dressed Aapa ko Chora goes scouting for party members.

Next, armed with the HADC and the Jan Sabha to show (yes, pun intended), GNLF set out to grow its strength.  Unsuspecting locals inkamaan-busty welcomed them with the typical Gorkhey warmth and respect…and the newly launched GNLF Facebook page saw pictures of Mann smiling, Mann folding hands, Mann overwhelmed with the love, Mann drinking tea etc etc. Their Twitter handle blossomed with information and also, an Instagram account with pictures of Mann smiling, Mann folding hands, Mann overwhelmed with the love, Mann drinking tea etc etc

Now, where was Zimba when all this happened? Nobody knows…

The thing was Mann had come across as a leader and that was all that mattered!

Ex- Bish-Purush proclaims that he wants to hit the streets once a week for 6th Schedule – while we want Gorkhaland

Now in a recent turn of events, Neeraj Zimba called a Press Conference and without an iota of doubt rattled off that his party has the ‘Darjeeling Hills’ best interest at heart & mind and will demand Sixth Schedule for us’.

Watching his video, his unflinching confidence makes for such elevated stance and his stellar performance resounds with such commanding rhetoric that it seemed almost real even to our illustrious 2nd generation educated folks.

Gasp !!!

Phew! he almost pulled that one off!

To sum up, the GNLF random drama has been larger than life, the script has been killing, the plot has been turned and twisted to being projected as an almost real account. But we think and we think with damning clarity….where does their authority come from?

Have we voted them to power? NO

So can they speak for us? NO

Have we voted their 6th Schedule agenda to power? NO

So can we tell them to shut their theatrical mouths? YES

Go ahead, do it!

Tell those poison/drinking, letter-writing, Jan sabha-organising, street-crying, topi-wearing forcefully appointed leader/s to respect the basic tenets of democracy and win the people’s approval first, only then will they ever have the authority to speak for us.

GNLF has no business whatsoever demanding whichever schedule for us because THEY DON’T HAVE OUR MANDATE. And in spite of not having our approval, if they go ahead with presenting their idea of what’s good for the Darjeeling Hills, it’s their very own kitty party meeting with the West Bengal Chief Minister, we the people have no involvement in it. Because this is still a democracy we live in, we the people still have a say in it and that’s how it should be done… and that’s the only way it should be done!

#YouthAndStudentsOfGorkhaland

#JaiGorkhaland

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

Central panel on Gorkhaland Issue

9:42 AM

Central panel on hill talks

-Imran Ahmed Siddiqui 

New Delhi, Oct. 11: The Union home ministry has formed a negotiation committee of its officials to initiate a composite dialogue with the Mamata Banerjee government and representatives of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on the Gorkhaland issue, government sources said.

The sources said the Centre was committed to help the Bengal government find a permanent solution and ruled out any direct intervention in Darjeeling.

"We are working out the modalities and parameters before initiating the process," a home ministry official told The Telegraph.

He did not spell out the terms of reference of the committee, its tenure and which of the two factions in the Morcha -- the Bimal Gurung camp or the Binay Tamang-Anit Thapa group -- would be called for the talks.

"After holding the talks, the committee will submit their recommendations to the Centre," the official said.

Home minister Rajnath Singh had announced on September 26 that a meeting would be convened within a fortnight (the 15-day window closed today) to discuss all related issues and issued an appeal, following which Gurung had called off the 104-day-old strike.

"Certain issues have to be sorted out before kick-starting the composite dialogue process with the stakeholders," the official added.#Another official hinted that Rajnath might speak to chief minister Mamata Banerjee. "Before initiating the talks, the Bengal chief minister will be taken into confidence and the dates of the meeting will be decided only after the state government consents," the official said.

The Centre has been adopting a cautious approach, given the region's strategic borders. "In a federal structure, the state government needs to examine it (the statehood demand) and take a call. We are more concerned about the security aspects."

(Via:http://bit.ly/2ycp28o)

Darjeeling agitation: Why we Gorkhas feel deceived and dishonoured

1:38 PM

Writes: SEBIKA SONALI TAMANG @sonaligolay

The people's movement has once again been quashed by the government. Or is it our own leaders?

Hundred days are usually spoken of as milestones by political parties and new regimes – 100 days of the Modi government was a big cause for celebration. The first 100 days of the Mamata Banerjee government too didn’t go unnoticed in West Bengal. But when we touched the 100-mark in Darjeeling, there were no celebrations - because it was a shutdown. 104 days and 11 deaths later, we hear it’s been called off now.

News reports have been claiming that life is limping back to normalcy since yesterday, especially after the internet services resumed. Some even claimed that the weary residents are finally getting ready for Dasain, the biggest festival of the year in Darjeeling hills.

It’s true we are weary, but not because of the long agitation for Gorkhaland. After all that the people have witnessed and endured, now I am not even sure whether those 105 days should be called an “agitation”.

We have been staunch and silent for the past 105 days. The hardships that people like me faced were inconsiderable compared to those who earn their livelihood on a daily basis. Astonishingly, no one died of starvation. We have all survived. Everyone of us has had to fight this battle for survival at their own level.

But now it seems like we took a full circle and came back to where we started from. We now have Gorkhaland Territorial Administration-Part 2, as they call it, with Binay Tamang as its chief who has found renewed favour with the state government, and clearly the reasons don't have to be given in black and white. GJM chief Bimal Gurung has been on the run since day one of the agitation.

Weary we are indeed, of the deceive, the dishonour. Not for the first time though.

Gorkhaland has been and will always be dear to us. The generation before us was a part of it (the fight for Gokhaland), now we have been a part of it and our children too will surely partake in it. The voice for Gorkhaland has always found support and our leaders know it only too well.

On June 15, an indefinite strike was called by the GJM that was followed by sporadic instances of violence and arson. As I said, 11 people lost their lives. The demand for statehood was fuelled by the resistance that the people were facing from the state machinery.

For once it looked like we had shaken the very foundation of the state and the central governments. With a BJP government at the Centre -  a party which has always heralded the creation of new states - we were positive that our demands would be met. The strike continued and we made it a way of life. It was never easy though having to compromise with basic necessities and the luxuries of our daily lives that would normally go unnoticed.

As the days went by laboriously, we were only made to realise how futile it has all been. How meaningless those struggles turned out to be. How for days people went about their lives amid the shutdown. How women in the neighbourhood hopped on to the hospital ambulance to reach their offices, how housewives made sure not to miss the demonstrations even amid the police crackdown. We did all that and much more for Gokhaland.

But the leaders on whom we had invested our faith were only too "confused". Apparently, they had no idea who they needed to address their problems to.

As foreseen, the state pounced on the first given opportunity which brought GJM’s Binay Tamang to the fore. He came as a “messiah” claiming to rescue us. He called off the strike till September 12, which started another agitation.

GJM supremo Bimal Gurung announced from his undisclosed location that the strikes will continue and there was no question of suspending it at any cost. He even removed Tamang from his party post of convener.

We were confused what was happening within the GJM. A few days later, Tamang and Anit Thapa were made the chairman and vice-chairman of a nine-member “board of administrators” to run the GTA. (All 45 elected members of GTA, including its chief executive Bimal Gurung, had resigned from the administrative body in June.)

Two days back (on Tuesday, September 26), Bimal Gurung decided and announced to call off the indefinite strike. It was also announced the decision was taken after Union home minister Rajnath Singh’s appeal to him.

Back home, we couldn't have been more surprised.

Would we now support the leader, who claims to be in the jungles, and who we have not seen since the agitation found ground? Or would we go with the one who says he will help us get rid of all disgruntlements?

I don't know which one of them will emerge a bigger "hero". But I do know that for now Bimal Gurung is still that hero. Confused and lost he may be, but we still uphold his dominion.

The people's movement has once again been quashed by the state government. Or is it our own leaders?

We want Gorkhaland and so we tried to keep the agitation alive. Lives have been lost and legacies been inherited, but Gorkhaland has remained ever so elusive.

[Source: http://bit.ly/2x0gSjA]

GORKHALAND DEMAND: 100 Days Bandh and a Gorkha's inner-turmoil

10:19 AM

Writes: Noel Giri.

Successfully or unsuccessfully we have completed 100 days of indefinite strike over the hills without exemption or relaxation. Is this our success or failure! the question remain unanswered and hovering with different opinions or views (it might differ on politically, socially or personally); lets not make argument on it because it is a personal choice and personal freedom of evaluation of it.

Here, I just want to highlight some of the important issues or matter of concerns after observing our course of Gorkhaland agitation in the hills. And I strongly believe we must have habit to do assessment of what we have achieved or not!

1. 2017's Gorkhaland agitation itself created a history with such a long and continuous strike over the hills. It proved solidarity and an unshakable unity among the Gorkha community. Despite of political barriers or principles, religious and cultural barriers, we did it with strong unity among each other.

2. Participation of every level of community of Gorkha and other communities who are resides in the hills is another milestone of our agitation. Every level and every section has shown mark respect, sincerity and sacrifices (leaders are exempted) with our long-pending demand of Gorkhaland.

The above mentioned positive sides of our agitation till dates, gives more courage and strength to go forth. But unfortunately, while having assessment we must not have to be selective with good gains only, we have to accept or evaluate our failures too!

It doesn't mean we all are anti-Gorkhaland. It doesn't mean I do not support Gorkhaland. I do support whole heartedly. But healthy criticism is demand of healthy politics.

I have highlighted some of our weaknesses or setbacks during course of our agitation which I have observed closely as follows:

1. Political conspiracy and lack of legal-knowledge: As we have seen political conspiracy among hill parties, which made it easy for state government to play 'divide and rule' policy. Some of our leaders only thought about their own political benefits and played blame game among each other. We have also seen lack of legal advice to some of our political leaders on legality and how to make himself or herself clean throughout the agitation! It is necessary for a leader to make himself/herself clean-handed during agitation to lead the people's movement. Because, without leader, movement doesn't have longer life span. 

Unfortunately, our leaders only trapped with illegible allegations and conspiratorial acts of state government by using government machinery and force unconstitutionally.

2. Lack of strategy: First half of our agitation (15th June to 1st of July) was very crucial. When we have got nationwide attention via national media houses, that time our hills' political parties/leaders must needed to make a solid strategy(s) to make it more effective. But due to violation and internet blackout by the state government, remained unable to highlight our movement nationwide. And our agitation slowly crippled down by the state government within our jurisdiction. Violence and damaging public and government properties made a bad impression on our agitation (we must agree with it). Due to lack of strategy during first phase only made our agitation flexible and strategically failure.

3. Lack of will-power among political leaders for demand: God knows why this agitation been started and for what purpose (s) it would be for our leaders!

Agitation remain doubtful throughout its course of movement due to lack of political will-power. Common inhabitants of the hills put all their efforts with sincerity for Gorkhaland demand but isolation of political leaders from same movement made our movements flexible and weaker day by day. Failure of GMCC, aimless agenda and strategies, repeated interference by majority party in the GMCCs' functions, lack of collective decision, irresponsible and aggressive comments and reactions by the local political leaders, lack of frontline leadership during agitation are the major setbacks of our agitation.

Now, after completing 100 days of Bandh, still we are empty handed and feeling we the people of hills are betrayed by the leaders and some of the opportunists. Many of us laid their lives, many got injured, so many stories to tell about our people's sacrifices but, still we are speechless and empty-handed.

What can we do now?

It is not over. Still we can reach to our destination. But,

1. We need to up bring educated people/leadership to lead our movement strategically with a real goal. Most importantly we need a sincere leader with our ultimate demand for the hills, nor an opportunist.

2. I must say, Gorkhaland is a long-run battle. Gorkhaland demand is a marathon nor a 500mt race. So we need long-term strategy, political diplomacy (because we have to fight this battle constitutionally in between central and state government) and visionary builder of Gorkhaland.

During last 100 days of Bandh, we have missed long course of education system. Students missed education and learning skills. Here I am not emphasizing only academic curriculum, I emphasised learning because education doesn't mean only finishing annual academic curriculum, it is beyond of that. If we do not build our future foundation of upcoming generation strong (educated) then I do not think we can even imagine a fruitful Gorkhaland for common and deprived people of the hills irrespective of castes, regions, religions and parties. Education is key to open the doors of opportunities and it can change anything. Therefore, neglecting education is great loss of ours only.

Strike only is not an effective movement or solution for Gorkhaland demand. Now we need to be constructive otherwise, after 100 days of bandh, why still our demand is pending!

Youngsters are frustrated and depressed. They already missed many.

There is a strong possibility of human trafficking and anti-social activities (some of it we have witnessed already). I myself heard following lines by saying "  I will go outside of Darjeeling, if I will get 6k salary also I will do that." "wish I could get job somewhere out of Darjeeling...."  "....Nothing is here, my future is dark."

These are not wishes, if we ponder on it sincerely, we will find a big compulsion, which makes them away not only from movement but away from the hills itself. I think this is one of the big failure of our leaders that they are unable to connect youngsters with ongoing movement of Gorkhaland. Youngsters are tired with filthy and opportunist politics played shamelessly over the hills.

Now, let us unite as before, lets impart a new vision and awareness among the common people of the hills, about our demand and destination. Need to spread value of awareness of demand among upcoming new generation too, because they are the ones who lead us in future. And lastly, let us make our Gorkhaland on the safe hands of educated, skilled, honest, empowered and able leaders of the hills.

Then our martyrs of Gorkhaland, who laid their precious lives for it, will smile and take rest peacefully!

"We shall overcome one day!"

Via The DC

Mamata Banerjee's Greter Bangla Conspiracy

7:08 PM

I am a Gorkha and I am not a terrorist...

Mamta Banerjee in her press conference today almost said that GJM is a terrorist outfit. Her evidences? She said she has intelligence report that underground outfits from North east are in contact with Bimal Gurung. Even some countries are helping Bimal Gurung. Suppose I say Mamta Banerjee is conspiring for Greater Bangla with the areas of Bangladesh and Bengal? She has been trying very very hard to colonize Bengal and her last strategy of imposing Bengali as a compulsory language in entire Bengal. Her strategy has been foiled completely by the current agitation for Gorkhaland. She started with division of Gorkha community with the formation of various caste based development boards. Secondly she allured some political outfits like JAP, GNLF. She was successful to some extent in dividing the mass. That is why the vote percentage of TMC in the hills improved. She was convinced that she will be able to grab the hill mass under her tentacles. Formation of Mirik Municipality board with the help of GNLF fuelled her conviction. So she fired the language bomb. The language bomb boomeranged.

During her cabinet meeting at Darjeeling when a small violence erupted she in haste called the Army. Was there a need to call the army? The demand of GJM was simple: pass the resolution in cabinet that Bengali Language is not compulsory. When she could pass so many developmental schemes for GTA without the consent of the GTA chief why didn’t she pass the simple resolution on language imposition? She has something dirty in her mind.

She failed. From today’s 15 Development Board chairpersons’ meeting and press conference she is hell bent to prove GJM as a terrorist outfit. But let me tell you madam we are Gorkhas and Gorkhas are not terrorist. On one hand she says there was intelligence failure and on the other hand she alleges that plan was hatched to hurt her ministers. She labels farmer’s tools, children’s archery tools as arms. Her disinformation strategy has started. With the Lepcha board chairperson she formed a peace committee. What a joke. Does she not know all the board members are Gorkhas and they too will die for Gorkhaland. They attended the meeting because you are giving them fund. Today you avoided the Gorkhaland question. Did you ask them what do they want? Gorkhaland or Development board?

GJM’s agitation has been transformed into a mass movement. Every citizen
irrespective of their caste, creed, religion, profession are supporting the cause. It is not Bimal Gurung’s programme but it is our issue. At this juncture what could be the rational steps our leadership can take? Let me suggest few:

Do not allow any actors to dismantle the all party forum. This is the platform which will make Gorkhaland a reality. Leave aside the egos. Bring the actionable strategy on the table.

Continue with the agitation no matter what form it takes and how far it goes.
Do not comply with the shallow offer of centre and state.

Participate in the meetings with centre and state if Gorkhaland is the ONLY agenda.
Now onwards message should be clear and speak in one voice. No GJM or GNLF or JAP etc

Strengthen media cell. Appoint skilled spokesperson.

During freedom struggle there was Gandhi and also Bose, there was table conferences and violence too, there was Dandi March and bomb too. Learn from the history.

Two pronged strategy should be in place. Delhi centric and Hill centric. Delhi centric strategy needs lobbyists, intellectuals, media experts, networkers. Involve people who can influence the ruling government, lobby with the opposition, market the cause to capitalists. Hill centric strategy needs people who can fuel the movement, give momentum to agitation, encourage mass, resist police and CRPF and state’s high handedness.

Get ready to counter the propaganda of Mamta that the agitation is a terror act. She will certainly make Darjeeling a battle ground like Kashmir.

Lastly, everything has its own time – time to sleep and time to awake, time to laugh and time to cry, time to fight and time to flight. Now is the time to fight and fight till GORKHALAND happens. Till today we have been fighting for the cause of others, now is the time to fight for our own cause. Dear Mamta didi we are Gorkhas and we are not terrorist. We will not help you to make your greater Bangla conspiracy a success.

Jai Gorkha, Jai Gorkhaland

110 years on, Gorkhaland still an elusive state

9:54 AM

Writes: Aishik Chanda

Simmering since 1907, the separate Gorkhaland agitation has flared up again. Mamata Banerjee’s ‘3-language policy’ making Bangla compulsory in schools in West Bengal and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s opposition to it have combined to cause a volatile situation. Aishik Chanda explains

The hill districts of Darjeeling and Kalimpong in West Bengal are on the boil again over Mamata Banerjee’s decision to make Bangla compulsory in all schools of the State regardless of mediums or boards. Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), the party ruling the autonomous council Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) that governs the two districts, has taken to the streets, and burnt police vehicles, government offices and enforced an indefinite shutdown of government offices, banks and courts, terming the fight as that of ‘Gorkha existence’ against what it termed ‘Bengal’s slavery’.

Though the West Bengal chief minister said Bangla would not be imposed on the Nepali-speaking hills of north Bengal, the GJM wanted a Cabinet resolution regarding the same. With the GTA elections slated to be held in October, the GJM called the autonomous council a failure and demanded a Gorkhaland State. On the other hand, Banerjee constituted a six-member committee to conduct a special audit of the GTA to check  misappropriation of Central funds to the autonomous council in the past five years.

What sparked the recent agitation in Darjeeling hills?

Mamata Banerjee declared in a Facebook post on May 16 that students have to opt for three languages out of a pool of seven official languages of West Bengal from Class I till Class X, of which one has
to be Bangla. She called this the ‘3-language policy’ of the State government and said it will be implemented in all schools in the State irrespective of their medium or board. The other two languages can be chosen from English, Hindi, Nepali, Santhali, Punjabi or
Urdu.

Has there been any official notification on making Bangla compulsory?

No. There has been no official circular regarding the implementation of the ‘3-language policy’ from the State government. The Jan Andolan Party (JAP), the GJM’s rival in Kalimpong district, has
distanced itself from the agitation and refused to call it a ‘language movement’ as no government order has been passed on making Bangla mandatory.

Is there any link between the agitation and polls in the recent past and the near future?

Maybe. Trinamool Congress broke into the GJM bastion and formed the board in Mirik municipality and won a few seats in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong municipalities. The electoral setback had forced the GJM on the back foot in the hills. Also, the current term of the GTA is ending in July and the election to the 45-member body is expected in October. The TMC aims to break into this. Currently all members in the body are from the GJM. According to JAP chief Harka Bahadur Chhetri, Mamata Banerjee’s untimely decision to implement Bangla came as a boon in disguise for the cornered GJM.

What is the Gorkhaland statehood movement?
It is a century-old demand for separation of Nepali-speaking hills from Bengal. The present Gorkhaland statehood demand comprises Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts along with Bhaktinagar, Malbazar, Chalsa, Nagrakata, Banarhat, Birpara, Madarihat, Jaigaon, Kalchini and Kumargram blocks of Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts of north Bengal.

Were Darjeeling and Kalimpong historically a part of Bengal?

No. Darjeeling was a dominion of Chogyal of Sikkim and was overrun by Nepal in 1780.
The region was annexed by the British during the 1814 Anglo-Nepal War and was ceded by Nepal to British India in the Sugauli Treaty of 1815.

Kalimpong was a part of Bhutan and was ceded to the British in the Sinchula Treaty of 1865 after the 1864 Anglo-Bhutan War. The present Darjeeling district as part of Bengal came into being in 1866.
However, administratively it was classified as a ‘Non-regulated area’ before 1861 and 1870-74 and as ‘Regulated area’ between 1862 and 1870. It was termed as ‘Scheduled district’ in 1874, as ‘Backward Tracts’ in 1919 and ‘Partially-excluded area’ from 1935 till 1947.

When did the agitation for Gorkhaland begin?

The Hillmen Association of Darjeeling submitted a memorandum demanding a separate administrative setup of the hills to Morley-Minto Reforms in 1907, chief secretary of Bengal and secretary and viceroy of India in 1917 and to the Simon Commission in 1929. Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League’s N B Gurung met Jawaharlal Nehr in 1952 at Kalimpong demanding separation from Bengal. Indra Bahadur Rai of Pranta Parishad met Indira Gandhi at Darjeeling demanding a separate State.

Did the Gorkhaland statehood demand witness bloodshed?

Yes. The Gorkhaland statehood movement turned into an armed rebellion led by Subhash Ghising of Gorkha National Liberation Front after large number of statehood agitators were killed in CRPF firing during a rally in Kalimpong on July 27, 1986. According to some estimates, more than 1,200 Gorkhas were killed during two years of violent armed rebellion. The GNLF made truce with the governments of West Bengal and India in 1988, leading to the formation of the autonomous Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) led by Ghising. The movement saw peace from 1988 till 2007.

Did the ‘Indian Idol’ show renew the Gorkhaland movement in 2007?

Yes. Kolkata Police constable Prashant Tamang won ‘Indian Idol Season 3’ in 2007 after Subhash Ghising’s security guard Bimal Gurung mobilised Gorkhas to vote for Tamang. After gaining immense
popularity, Bimal Gurung formed the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha with the  single-point agenda of forming the Gorkhaland state. Gurung eventually replaced Ghising as DGHC chief, which was renamed by the Left Front government as Gorkha Territorial Administration with the same powers.

What is the Madan Tamang murder case?

Influential veteran Gorkha leader Madan Tamang of Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL) was hacked to death in public at Darjeeling allegedly by GJM activists on May 21, 2010. Prime accused GJM chief Bimal Gurung and 17 others were tried at the Calcutta High Court and are currently out on anticipatory bail in the murder case.

What are ethnic development boards?

Stating that the Gorkhas were not indigenous to the Darjeeling hills and were better off than the native communities, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee formed the Lepcha Development Board in 2011 for betterment of the Lepcha tribe, who along with Limbu and other Animist and Buddhist tribes are said to be indigenous to the hills. Over the next six years, she formed 16 other development boards for different ethnicities of the hills. The GJM has always argued that the ethnic boards were a conspiracy to divide the Gorkhaland movement.

Does Gorkhaland creation require the West Bengal Legislative Assembly’s approval?
No. As witnessed during Telangana formation, creation of a new State does not require the approval of the parent State. So, if the Centre, which is witnessing peak of animosity with Mamata Banerjee
since demonetisation, brings a Bill in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for creation of Gorkhaland, they State may become reality. However, the Centre fears that granting statehood to Gorkhaland would intensify other statehood movements across the country.

Darjeeling district
Area
2,095.40 sq km
Population
15,95,163
(including plains of Siliguri subdivision)
Major towns
Siliguri, Darjeeling, Mirik, Kurseong, Naxalbari
Assembly seats
Darjeeling, Kurseong, Siliguri, Matigara-Naxalbari
Lok Sabha seat
Darjeeling

Kalimpong district
Area
1,053.60 sq km
Population
2,51,642
Major towns
Kalimpong, Gorubathan, Algarah
Assembly seats
Kalimpong
Lok Sabha seat
Darjeeling

[Via: New Indian Express]

Demand for Gorkhaland based on historical arguments, people’s voice should be dispassionately heard

8:00 AM

Demand for Gorkhaland based on historical arguments, people’s voice should be dispassionately heard

Writes: Sadhan Mukherjee*

Thousands of tourists are stuck in Darjeeling as all routes to that tourist spot including the Toy Train are closed. Special flights are being arranged but how to reach the nearest airport at Bagdogra when all roads are closed? From today (12 June) an indefinite bandh of government offices has been called.

Quite a big number of forces have been deployed by the state government. But violence has already begun in some places like in Bijonbari and Sukna.

The present flare up was occasioned by the introduction of Bengali as compulsory language by the state government. To this has now been added the old demand for Gorkhaland. After the Gorkha National National Liberation Front (GNLF) carried on its agitation for an independent Gorkhaland (1986-1988), a settlement in 1988 was arrived at with the Indian authorities.

The GNLF was split after the settlement and after the death of GNLF chief Subhas Ghising in 2015, it became weak. The demand for separate Gorkhaland was resurrected by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Bimal Gurung in 2007 and is continuing.

Obviously, the 1988 agreement did not work and the development work to be undertaken in the hilly areas was not satisfactory. But actually behind the slogan of lack of development work is the old demand for a distinct state, not just an adjunct administration under West Bengal.

It is British imperialism that is essentially responsible for creating all sorts of divisions in the subcontinent as it was convenient for them to divide and rule. The Indian government initially followed the British style of administration but the movements in states forced them to redraw the maps of existing states. There is a long history behind the reorganisation of states in the Indian Union.

The history of this subcontinent is a history of twisted developments. The Gorkhas had invaded Sikkim dominion of Chogyal around 1780 when they captured most part of Sikkim state including Darjeeling and Siliguri. For 35 years they ruled but lost these areas after the British-Nepal war. Nepal was forced to cede its territory from Teesta region to Sutlej in 1816. In 1817 the British East India Company reinstated the Chogyal and restored most of the land he previously ruled.

The British gave Darjeeling to Sikkim but in 1835 took it back since it was to start tea plantation in that area on a large scale.

No one today really talks about 1780 but only from 1835.

Similar things were also done with Bhutan which was given the Bengal Dooars area, previously under the Raja of Cooch Behar, while in return Bhutan gave Kalimpong to British. Like British arrangement, the external relations of Bhutan are now guided on the advice of India.

The British made Darjeeling a “Non-Regulated Area” which meant that rules and regulations of British Raj did not automatically apply to the district. It was then changed to a “Scheduled District” and again to “Backward Tracts” and finally to “Partially Excluded Area” until the independence of India. A lot of mess thus was left over by the British.

The Lepchas actually were the original inhabitants of the area and they were engaged in zhoom (shifting) cultivation. But they were small in number. This is the pretext that is put forward to say that Gorkhas were outsiders. In 1865 the British started tea cultivation and soon built a narrow gauge railway to Darjeeling. Many people came to work in the plantations and settled down and among them were many Gorkha labourers. They were then all British subjects.

But after independence in 1947 India entered into a treaty with Nepal in 1950 offering reciprocal privileges of residence, ownership of properties, participation in trade and commerce, as well as movement. It also made a Gorkha’s Indian citizenship a reciprocal one, and thereby they lost their Indian identity.

The Gorkhaland demand is based on the linguistic difference of the people of Darjeeling hill areas as well as the people of Indian Gorkha origin. Historically, Darjeeling was not a part of Bengal and when states were reorganised, this demand for a Gorkhaland was not taken into account. But the demand existed from 1907 when a memorandum was submitted to the Minto-Morley reforms committee for a separate administrative set up. It was raised before the Simon Commission in 1930 again, and reiterated in 1941.

Even the undivided Communist Party of India submitted a memorandum to the Constituent Assembly demanding the formation of a Gorkhastan comprising Darjeeling district, Sikkim and Nepal. This was raised again in 1952 by Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League and in 1980 by Pranta Parishad demanding separation from Bengal.

In 1986, Gorkha National Liberation Front took over the demand of separate Gorkhaland and the movement became violent. In 1988 an agreement was arrived at for a semi-autonomous body called Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) to govern certain areas of Darjeeling district. This was not very satisfying to the Gorkha people and the agitation was revived for a separate state in 2007 led by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and in 2011 a new agreement was arrived at on Gorkhaland Territorial Administration replacing the DGHC.

Some fuel to the demand for Gorkhaland was added by the BJP which before the 2009 elections announced its policy to have smaller states and supported the formation of Telangana and Gorkhaland. BJP candidate Jaswant Singh won the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat backed by GJM. The same year top BJP leaders Rajiv Prasad Rudy, Sushma Swaraj and Jaswant Singh pleaded for a Gorkhaland in Parliament during 2009 budget session. In the next general election, S S Aluwalia of BJP won with GJM support.

Meanwhile in 2010 leader of Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League Madan Tamang was murdered and the West Bengal Government threatened to take strong action against GJM. In 2011, three GJM activists were shot dead. There was a spontaneous shutdown of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong distrocts.

The GJM undertook a padayatra which led to violence in Darjeeling district and an indefinite strike was called by GJM which lasted for 9 days. In the 2011 state elections, three GJM candidates won from Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseaong distrct and a fourth one, an independent supported by GJM won from Kalchini in Dooars.

In July 2011 another Memorandum of Agreement was signed for a Gorkhaland Territorial Administration GTA). During the election campaign that year, Mamata Banerjee had implied that this would end the Gorkhaland agitation while Bimal Gurung felt it was another step towards statehood. A bill for creation of GTA was passed in the West Bengal state Assembly.

In the July 2012 elections for GTA, GJM candidates won from 17 constituencies and the rest 28 seats were won unopposed.

But in July 2013 Bimal Gurung complained of too much interference by West Bengal government and resigned.

Gorkhaland agitation was renewed. The same year Congress recommended formation of separate Telengana state. This further intensified the demand for Gorkhaland and a separate Bodoland in Assam.

To press for its demand, GJM called for a 3-day bandh followed by an indefinite bandh from 3 August. Meanwhile the Calcutta High Court declared the bandh illegal. West Bengal government then sent paramilitary forces to Darjeeling and arrested prominent GJM leaders.

In reply GJM went for a unique form of protest in which people voluntarily stayed at home and did not come out. This was a great success. After an all-party meeting, it was resolved to continue the movement and exercise bandh under different names.

It is clear that this demand for a Gorkhaland is based on some historical arguments and does not seem directed against West Bengal or the Bengalis as such. The fact is that more than 80% people in Darjeeling district speak Nepali.

So its distinct character is not under dispute. Telengana is now a separate state from Andhra Pradesh where another form of Telegu and Urdu are spoken than that of Andhra Pradesh. The demand for separate states of Vidarbh, Bundelkahand and similar areas are also simmering. The moot point is should the people’s voice be heard dispassionately or not.

This also raises another allied important question if there should be another ‘states reorganisation’ based on more rational principles. Bihar has been reorganised with some areas going to West Bengal and the southern part to Jharkhand. Uttarakhand has also been formed. So is Telangana.

The Uttar Pradesh State Assembly has already passed a unanimous resolution in 2011 recommending division of Uttar Pradesh into four states, The central government has not agreed to it and its resolution continues to hang fire.

Meanwhile, Darjeeling areas are sitting on top of a volcano.
---
*Veteran journalist [Via: Counterview.in]

Will revive Gorkhaland map, signboards, police, there is no turning back: Bimal Gurung

6:03 PM

Since 2007, we are demanding a separate state and now, is our final push. People are ready for a bigger agitation.

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung speaks to the Indian Express about an issue that has become their “core ideology”, and his changed relations Mamata Banerjee, who he once called “mother”.

So you are reviving the Gorkhaland issue?

Now, it is Gorkhaland and nothing else. We have tolerated enough. The issue was our core ideology. Now, we will revive the Gorkhaland police, women wing, Gorkhaland map and signboards. Our Gorkhaland map will have parts of Terai, Dooars and other regions, apart from the hills. There is no turning back. Since 2007, we are demanding a separate state and now, is our final push. People are ready for a bigger agitation.

In 2011 and 2013, bandhs crippled life in the hills. It was hard for the locals.

We endured hardships because our ultimate goal was of a separate state. I am not a supporter of bandh. But if the government forces us, what can we do? Our hills are self-sufficient and we can endure without help from outside. People want Gorkhaland and are ready to bear hardships. I am speaking their voice.

Why are you suddenly reviving the Gorkhaland demand?

We were fooled by state government when we signed the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). Nearly 50 departments were to come under GTA but only three or four came. Nearly five years have passed and nothing happened. We were not allowed to work and GTA became a sham… Then suddenly, government imposed Bengali on us, making it mandatory to be studied in schools. What about our mother tongue Nepali? Then police lathicharged us.

Do you think Bengali-Nepali divide will take place?

We respect and love Bengalis. We have always welcomed tourists. It is the CM who is dividing communities in the hills and creating a Bengali-Nepali divide. All we wanted is our own identity and respect for our language — our mother tongue. We will not allow anyone to impose Bengali on us.

Do you have ambitions of becoming chief minister?

As Mamata Banerjee is the head of state and the chief minister, I am head of GTA, the hill administration. I am the chief minister of the hills. I have all three MLAs here… the MP and nearly all elected representatives of civic bodies in the hills are with me.

Do you think the Union government will support your Gorkhaland demand?

When trouble started in Darjeeling, I briefed the Union Home Minister and our MP. I have been speaking to the Centre about the issue. I have supported BJP in the Hills, campaigned for it in other states, including Assam. This is our legitimate demand.

There have been allegations of misappropriation of funds in GTA. State government has ordered a special audit.

These are all lies. Already, there has been an audit. Mamata Banerjee is trying to frame us. Her party leaders are involved in Sarada (chit fund scam) and Narada (sting operation) scams.

Following Thursday’s violence, police lodged an FIR against you and may arrest you.

I call them to arrest me. I was not involved. Miscreants backed by TMC started the trouble. I am ready to go to jail. But the government will be responsible for the violence, which will follow in the hills. Let them arrest me and you will see what happens. Forty-five of our youths were injured in police lathicharge that day.

You once had a good relationship with Mamata Banerjee.

I called her mother. But she did not take care of her child. We welcomed her in Darjeeling. But she tried to divide us by making separate boards for Lepchas and other communities. She wants to get political mileage. Now, whenever she will come to the hills, we will show her black flags. She is not welcome here anymore.

What will be your next plan of action?

We will protest democratically. People will protest. We will boycott the government. We will place our demand before the Centre. If the government commits atrocities on us, I will not be held responsible for the results. So many Gorkhas have fought or are fighting for our country. They need a homeland — a separate state.

Via The Indian Express

Mamata reaches plains, Darjeeling SP removed

1:20 PM

According to Press Trust of India (PTI) report Darjeeling Superintendent of Police (SP) Amit Javalgi has been removed from his post. Though not yet formally appointed by the State Government, Deputy Commissioner (Central), Kolkata Police, Akhilesh Chaturvedi is tipped to be the new SP of Darjeeling, according to a senior Kolkata Police official as quoted by PTI.

The chief minister had earlier said that a three-member team comprising senior IPS officers had been formed to look after the law-and-order situation in Darjeeling.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee meanwhile left Darjeeling in the night of 9th of June after taking stock of the situation in the hills. She started from Darjeeling town at around 10 pm and reached Siliguri after over two hours.

On Friday the Army carried out flag marches in Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Kurseong. Initially, two Army columns were deployed in Darjeeling. Late Thursday, the Army was requisitioned by the state government for Kurseong and Kalimpong as a precautionary measure.

As of now, six columns have been deployed — three in Darjeeling, two in Kalimpong and one in Kurseong. Each column comprises 43 personnel.

Three companies of CRPF have also been deployed.

Meanwhile,  GJMM central committee is holding a meeting in Darjeeling and likely to announce its future course of action today.

BOOMERANG: It wasn’t support for GJM… It was anger against TMC that made the strike a success

8:49 AM
Writes: Upendra for TheDC

The strike in Darjeeling, held two days ago has been termed ‘a success’ by GJM, while TMC has called it an ‘absolute failure.’ What is funny is that almost all the Bengal based news media, other than the ones based in North Bengal, have toed the official line and reported that the strike was ‘unsuccessful.’ Surprised readers who were in Darjeeling watching the events unfold on the ground, were shocked to note how Bengali news channels were saying the vehicles are running smoothly, shops are open and life is going on as normal. A few of them even wrote to us, complaining about how Bengali channels were distorting the facts.

To be honest we have seen all of this happen over and over again. From 1986 to 2016, newspapers and media in Bengal have always been biased against the Gorkhaland issue. This is why TheDC was formed in November of 2013 to provide factual news from the hills, without any embellishments, addendums or modifications. Because we had come to realize that what is happening on the ground in Darjeeling, is not getting reported in the media, where as modified news, often misleading were being peddled as the truth.

Here is an example, “WILL GUNS BOOM IN BENGAL'S HILLS?” reads the headline from Aug 2013 when the Gorkhaland agitation was at its peak , in Times of India [Details: http://bit.ly/1qNAMAa]. If you read the article, you will see how they paint a picture of Darjeeling almost getting ready for an Armageddon, without any substance to prove their assertions, or use of named sources, they paint a picture of armed revolution about to unfold in Darjeeling hills. While most of the people in Darjeeling may scoff at the reporting, those from elsewhere in India who are unaware of the ground realities will naturally assume it’s the truth. This is how media in Bengal has manipulated the Gorkhaland agitation to paint a picture of our demand being that of ‘separatism from India, being funded by Nepal, Pakistan and China’ [Details: http://bit.ly/2cPcTKY].

So TMC claimed the strike was not successful on the 28th, and yesterday they took out a ‘Thank You’ rally to thank the people in the hills for opposing the ‘bandh.’ While hill people may have found it delusional, it serves a purpose. These rallies and events are not meant to thank the hill people, they are done to let Mamata and rest of Bengal know, whatever was reported in Kolkata based media on the 28th was true, and that the strikes were indeed unsuccessful.

But even the TMC leaders know in the hearts of their hearts that the hill people overwhelmingly supported the strike, and contrary to popular belief that it was done out of fear of the GJM, I believe it was done to let Mamata and Bengal know their diktats were not welcome in the hills.

In an unprecedented move, the Bengal government went all out to thwart the proposed strike. They imposed draconian diktats - like circulars were issued requiring every government servant to attend their office, failing which they will be show caused and anyone missing work due to strike would have 3 days pay cut. They required schools and colleges to remain open, threatened business, restaurants, hotels and taxis of cancellation of licenses and permits. In Mungpoo, TMC cadres did extensive miking telling the cinchona workers that if they don’t show up for work, they may lose their jobs in the near future. Such threats were issued all over the Darjeeling hills.

As if that was not enough, numerous platoons of Central Reserve forces and state police were brought down to ensure ‘law and order’ in the hills, and to top it all Bengal government sent 3 Ministers to monitor the strike and to ensure that the Bandh is not imposed.

In doing so they must have assumed that people do actually want to side with Bengal, but are not doing so due to fear of GJM. However, that is where Bengal overplayed their hand. They underestimated the ‘GORKHA’ factor.

We – the Gorkhas are a very simple group of people, if we love someone we will willingly die for them, but when someone tries to impose their will upon us, we tend to take a stand against it, no matter whatever are the consequences.

Despite 3 ministers, 10 development boards, entire district administration, massive deployment of security forces, entire TMC cadres from the hills + hired goons from the plains being present, fact remains that they couldn't keep Darjeeling hills open.

Ministers were seen banging on the doors and shutters of shut down shops forcing them to open... on the 28th, TMC completely lost the plot. While GJM announced the strike, they didn't impose it... whereas Bengal government used district administration and held meetings with hoteliers, travel agents, drivers associations, and shop keepers requiring them to keep their businesses open, but despite all their threats and cajoling when all their efforts failed and people supported the strike, they started to bang on the doors and shutters demanding opening of the businesses... Yet, they didn’t succeed.

Nothing is more telling than the picture shared below. Its from Kalimpong... generally this place is so crowded that there is not even enough room to stand... and on the 28th, not just the shops were closed, even the people chose not come out of their homes.

Without any prejudice, I feel that it was very unbecoming of the Ministers to go around forcing people to open their shops. It’s one thing to assure people of law and order helping them if required to keep their businesses open, but quite another to go around asking people to open shops, not with police but with party workers. The lines between a Minister of the Govt of Bengal and TMC party cadre was completely blurred in the hills on the 28th, and I am confident that the Hon’ble Ministers acted as party cadres instead of Government servants that day.

In bringing down a large contingent of security forces, in requiring schools to remain open, in banging on the doors and shutters of businesses and demanding that they remain open, Trinmool Congress and by extension the Bengal government were jeopardizing the lives of the people in the hills.

What if major clashes had broken out between bandh supporters and those opposing the bandh right at the time schools got off? Had school going children been caught in the cross-fire and injured, who would have been responsible? If shops and businesses were burned down and vandalized, would the Bengal government have compensated? If violence broke out, who would have been responsible?

In order to prove their might, the Bengal government crossed that sacred line which makes every government responsible for the safety, security and well-being of its citizens, and that is what boomeranged on them. The hill people decided to rebel and shut down their shops, businesses, vehicles and hotels.

Had TMC been a little more pragmatic, they could have let the bandh happen, as that would have put the hill people against GJM. People would have wanted to know, why they should shut down to justify GTA funds misuse allegations. But TMC being what it is, they took the bait and issued draconian orders.

The draconian measures undertaken by TMC party using West Bengal government administrative mechanisms to thwart the strike on September 28th, 2016 was seen as a trailer of how dictatorial it is going to get for Darjeeling and its people, if we choose not to adhere to their diktat. With less than 15% support in the hills, today TMC is already going dictatorial, imagine what will happen if their support reaches 20% or 30%?

This high handedness by TMC sent a direct message to the hill people, toe our line or we will make you do so.

Till TMC overdrive to ensure Bandh doesn’t happen, the hill people were against GJM, but the moment TMC decided to issue diktats, it became a matter of US vs Bengal, and that is where TMC lost the plot. People who don’t like GJM, decided to support the bandh, because they all felt that allowing Bengal to run its writ in Darjeeling would ruin our autonomy, and the latent desire for self-governance through Gorkhaland statehood was awakened.

GJM won the moral victory on the 28th, they requested and people shut down... TMC forced and people didn't open, and no matter how many channels report to the contrary, the fact remains that on September 28th, the hills stood united.

It may not have been in support of GJM, but it was definitely against TMC and its draconian diktats.

TheDC


Gorkhaland : Support, Opposition & Lip Sympathy

10:10 AM
Writes: NN Ojha

Gorkhaland 18th July 2016: It is precisely five years since the tripartite agreement setting up GTA was signed between the Government of India, Government of West Bengal and the GJMM. Incidentally 18 July 2011 too was a Monday like it is five years later today.

As the hills prepared for celebrations to mark the signing of the accord parts of Siliguri were bracing up for a protest shut down called by ‘Bangla O Banbla Bhasha Bachao Committee’ (BOBBBC), an outfit claiming to be apolitical committed to safeguarding the language and culture of the Bengalis.

Opposition to the accord from organisations like BOBBBC could be simply ignored. What needed to be noted seriously was the manner in which West Bengal’s (then) newly elected CM Mamta Banerjee sought to disown the agreement in letter and spirit even before she left the venue where it had just been signed. The memorandum signed by her home secretary in her presence and in the presence of the country’s home minister P. Chidambaram was, “keeping on record the demand of the GJMM for a separate state of Gorkhaland……..”. But here was Mamta Banerjee stating, “Statehood cannot be granted to the region……….. Bengal is not going to be divided…..”.
Tripartite agreement setting up GTA was signed between the Government of India, Government of West Bengal and the GJMM.
Tripartite agreement setting up GTA was signed between the Government of India,
Government of West Bengal and the GJMM. 
With GJMM supremo Bimal Gurung stating at the same venue, “GTA was not a compromise on its demand for a separate state and was, in fact, a step in that direction”, it was clear how the just signed agreement and its creation GTA were being pulled in opposite direction with overwhelming force. The result that could be expected was status quo in the best case scenario if neither side out -forced the other or snapping of the rope that held it together and total collapse if any one of the two pulled little harder.

Reactions from most mainstream national parties sounded disappointing for us and at the same time encouraging for Ms Banerjee. Indian National Congress the party to which Home Minister P Chidambaram in whose ‘august presence’ the agreement was signed belonged made no bones about its dislike to the idea of ‘dismembering’ West Bengal.

Leftist leader Surya Kant Misra found the term ‘Gorkhaland’ in the nomenclature of the proposed GTA fraught with prospects of ‘disunity’. Mr Misra apparently forgot that the nomenclature was decided upon during the rounds of tripartite talks held when the Left Front was in power.

Most shocking reaction was to come from the BJP. The party’s West Bengal unit opposed the use of the word Gorkhaland in the name of the proposed body GTA as the word ‘could stoke separatist sentiments in the region’. Coming from the party to whom the people of Gorkhaland had already given one precious Loksabha seat in 2009 the reaction was nothing but ironical.

Has anything changed since 2011 as the Congress’s alliance with TMC is passé, the hill people had helped the Left in Siliguri Municipal Corporation elections and the BJP has once again been gifted the Darjeeling Loksabha seat by us in the 2014 elections? Absolutely nothing, if we look at their manifestos for the latest 2016 state assembly elections. The word Gorkhaland is completely missing across the board from left to congress to BJP. We don’t exist because we don’t matter to any of them.

When we look at the hill based political parties the picture is rather hazy as most of them are vague and ambivalent? The GNLF already carrying the historical baggage of having dropped the demand for Gorkhaland in 1988 and subsequently having bargained for Sixth schedule status ‘as full and final settlement’ still continues to be unsure of their stand. Mrs Bharti Tamang having inherited the glorious legacy of the Late Madan Tamang’s unwavering support for Gorkhaland is unfortunately weighed down by her personal grief that apparently stops her from making common cause with any platform having Bimal Gurung on it. About JAP less said the better. They are in favor of Gorkhaland with consensus of the central and the State government knowing well that no government in west Bengal will ever consent to what they call ‘Banglar bivag’. Could it be that the party has included Gorkhaland in their manifesto only out of political expediency and not commitment?

Thus at the national level TMC, the Left parties and Congress are against Gorkhaland. For BJP it is a matter of political expediency. Those of their leaders who owe their political survival to the hills profess support while the entire state unit of west Bengal is opposed and the national leadership remains totally noncommittal. At the local level there is near unanimity on the issue but a united front to pursue the common cause is not being forged because of ego hassles which must be overcome in larger interest of the region.

Where do we go from here and what do we do? A multitude of opinions is expressed almost on daily basis in the press and also in the social media. There are some who argue that GTA should be wound up as a prelude to an all out ‘do or die’ type struggle. Others call for a change of leadership to let the rationale of the demand be felt at a broader national level, especially in the corridors of power in New Delhi.

I will give you my take for whatever it is worth.

First, GTA should not be dumped by us. In fact that is what the TMC led west Bengal government would wish so as to facilitate its its propaganda that having been unable to run a small institution like the GTA how can we be trusted with the running of a full fledged state. We should play hard-ball to ensure that the west Bengal government complies with the legal, political, administrative and financial obligations of the GTA agreement in toto. My own guess is faced with such prospects it is the west Bengal government itself who will either transfer control on all the agreed upon subjects to us, or, will itself announce breaking up of the GTA. If we get control as per the agreement it will be a precursor to statehood and if it results in break up of the GTA the blame for not being able to run the institution won’t lay at our door.

Second, steps must be taken to strengthen the GTA so as to make it an instrument of clean governance and effective delivery of services to the public. For this the leadership of GTA will have to broaden its HR base by inducting experts and experienced generalist administrators. At present there is perceptible lack of strong bureaucratic support structure and an effective PR mechanism.

Third, all the political parties of the region must forge a common platform to carry forward the demand for statehood. We have shown our ability to forge such unity in July-August 2013 in the form of GJAC. Let that spirit of GJAC be revived. GJMM being the leading political force of the region must take proactive initiative in this direction.

Last but not least, message has to go to the BJP that they have to treat us as equal partners in the political venture that has to be as much for the welfare of the region as for the BJP’s own political benefit. At present the later seems to be the case. Our MP who apart from being a seasoned politician is now a powerful member of he central cabinet has to use his good offices to further the cause of Gorkhaland in the Parliament.

In the wide range of opinions that we keep coming across I haven’t come across a single voice against the idea of Gorkhaland or in favor of the region continuing as an adjunct of West Bengal. Notwithstanding west Bengal establishment’s crude attempts to divide and rule the entire region emerges as a solid monolith. Therein lies our strength that no one can ever defeat. It is upto us and the political leaders of the region to put this underlying unity of the masses to constructive use.

NN Ojha writes exclusively for DT and TheDC


WHY I SUPPORT ‪GORKHALAND‬: The tale of a non-Gorkhali

12:50 PM
Writes: Upendra

The gentleman from Kolkata who questioned if Gorkhas have a right to demand Gorkhaland in India, was properly answered by Mr Suhotra Banerjee a Gorkha Bengali from Darjeeling... He wrote, "Goethals, Victoria,Downhill, HBS (to certain extent) students (hostelite) can say that as maximum of them had no connect with the town. They used to come to town once a week may be or else Darjeeling or SLG.... But ask those Bengali's who stay here or have passed out from Pushparani, St.Joseph, Played in Montiviate or Pankabari fields (as their was no other fields to play). We want our GORKHALAND. We may not be Nepali's, but as we are born and brought up here, we are a part of this movement since 1985... Few odd Bongs who doesn't stay here will never understand the sentiment."

Hence we are reproducing this older article by Upendra which was originally posted in Darjeeling Times in 2008 as it echos exactly these same sentiments.... Also this article may allow the Abhadralok form Kolkata to see that Gorkhaland is not just a demand by Nepalis, the term Gorkha includes everyone living in our beloved hills

WHY I SUPPORT GORKHALAND: The tale of a non-Gorkhali
This write up is based on true experiences of a dear friend of mine, who has been living in Darjeeling for the past 35 years. He is a Bengali originally from a place near Siliguri. He shared his experiences with me, and I in turn extracted his permission to add my own two bits and publish. This write up is special to me, because, my friend had tears in his eyes, by the time he was done sharing his emotions. The words are mine, but the narrative and the feelings are entirely his.

Many ask me why do I support the notion of Gorkhaland even though I am, visibly a minority, do not prefer to speak Nepali and am not even married to one. My “so called” friends and well-wishers wanted to know why am I so much Pro-Gorkhaland? Was I being bribed or was family being threatened?
WHY I SUPPORT ‪GORKHALAND‬: The tale of a non-Gorkhali
File pic for representative purpose only - Photo source DT
It happens often, when I travel to the plains, and breach the topic of unrest in the Darjeeling Himalayas with people I know, they assure me, “Chinta Koris Naa, Aamra Aacchhii” (Hey!! Don’t worry, we are there). When I say, “I am not worried at all, but seems like you all are”, they look at me with disgust and say, “Mono hocchye paharey bosey tor matha kharab hoye gyecchey noiley Bangali hoy keno Gorkhaland support korchiss rey?” (Seems like having stayed in the hills for so long, your brain is sick. Otherwise why else would you support Gorkhaland, being a Bengali yourself?) What my “so called” friends fail to see is that’s all the opening I need to educate them as to why I support Gorkhaland.

Right and Justice
I am a Bengali and not the self-hating kind. I love my country. I strongly believe that all the sections of our nation’s population should have the right to self-determination. One of the most well-known phrases of Indian freedom movement was,“Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it”. Our country was founded on the idea of Swaraj (self-rule) so I believe, when the Gorkhalis of Darjeeling demand a land of their own to rule and to prosper, it is in fact not only their right but it is the governments’ duty to ensure that their right is protected.

A tea garden worker in Darjeeling earns INR 65 per day, and there are thousands of them. Their pay has remained unchanged for almost a decade now where as the pay of everyone who works in The Tea Board of India, headquartered in Kolkata has seen a raise twice (fifth pay and sixth pay commission) and there is a talk of more increases soon. Even the peon there earns at least 10 times more than these workers. I ask my “so called” friends, how do you justify this? When people who do the actual production are starving to death in Dooars, Tea Consultants in Kolkata are earning millions of rupees and flying all over the world representing Darjeeling tea and Dooars tea. I pose this question, “Should we allow our ego to overrule logic and facts? Is it fair for these tea garden workers to starve here, while someone in Kolkata enjoys all the privileges? Un-surprisingly, my “so called” friends have no answer.

The 'Sarbaharas'
The district of Darjeeling has seen population growth of phenomenal proportions since 1965s. The decadal growth of population has been a steady 40% and is perhaps the highest in the country. Given the area that is, this kind of population growth is unnatural so I pose this question to my “so called” friends from the plains, “how did the population of our district raise so drastically”? They do not reply, for they know the answer but obligingly I help, “Remember the post-1965 illegal immigrants from erstwhile East Pakistan”, who came over with nothing more than just the clothes they were wearing?

These illegal immigrants, who liked to call themselves 'sarbaharas' (ones who've lost everything) have now settled in places in and around Siliguri. Those who are the original residents of West Bengal, widely known as the ‘Ghotis’ (which includes my family) resent the large-scale influx of these illegal immigrants (the ‘Bangals’). They have diluted the original population of the place and now these illegal immigrants have an upper hand. So every native, including the ‘Ghoti’ Bengalis, will support a separate state in Darjeeling and Dooars, in order to protect the original inhabitants of the land “What about you guys?” I ask friends and they stand mute.

CPI (M) and Trinmool Congress (TMC)
Everyone in Bengal knows that the CPI (M) rode to power in Bengal on the unflinching support of the 'sarbaharas', who came to regard the Marxists as their saviors. These illegal immigrants are still being brought over in hordes especially in North-Bengal earlier by the CPI (M) and now by the TMC. I find it amusing that, the Government of India has not bothered to check the legal status of these illegal immigrants. I am sure, none of these people applied for immigration legally. Has the government of India taken their assimilation for granted? Or does the government of India not care?

The Midas like touch which the CPI (M) had earlier exhibited and now TMC has continued, turned everything they touch into garbage, instead of gold. Look at all the industries that West Bengal had and compare it with the present day. Failure to deliver any developmental projects in Nandigram, Singur, Lalbagh, Dooars has now turned desperate TMC into a beast ready to do anything to retain its power. By now my audience tries to run away but I do not let them get away. I press further.

North Bengal
The Left, the right and the center in West Bengal is biased towards the development of South-Bengal. Of the 14 districts in the state, 6 are in North-Bengal and 8 in South-Bengal. The population ratio of South to North is approximately 3:1, which means for every person in North-Bengal there are three in South-Bengal. However, South Bengal has over 14 universities, whereas North-Bengal has but one. South Bengal has over 25 medical colleges, whereas North-Bengal has but one.

So finally I ask my “so called” friends, “Why should we want to remain with West Bengal, when they do not consider us equal?” Just because I am a Bengali does not mean I have been treated as equal or fair. Why should we want to remain in a state where we do not matter? All our decisions are taken by people from South. What has the CPI (M) government done in terms of development in its 33 years of rule?

At least, if Gorkhaland is formed Siliguri and Dooars is guaranteed and bound to develop whereas if we remain with West Bengal, we will never develop.

By now, most of my “so called” friends have already left, but with a thoughtful look in their eyes.

I support the notion of Gorkhaland and I am sure many others do… and if it could be explained to the people living in Siliguri and surrounding areas, that our economic well-being and prosperity is tied to us severing ties with West Bengal, I am sure many more would support the formation of a new state. Whether you call it Gorkhaland or simply the state of “Darjeeling and Doors” is a separate matter.


Via The DC


 
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