No matter who loses, we, the Gorkhas, have already won

8:05 AM
Writes: Upendra

In the 2019 elections, Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat is being viewed by almost everyone interested in politics as a litmus test to adjudge if the Gorkha aspirations of having a state of our own will prevail, or if the iron will of TMC chief Mamata Banerjee to obliterate the demand forever will deal a crushing blow to the same.

In the muddled regional political atmosphere, which has gone topsy-turvy post the 2017 Gorkhaland agitation, it would take a political analyst of superhuman powers to predict who will win the seat. While the BJP sounds hopeful of retaining the seat, TMC is confident they will wrestle the seat away from the BJP, which has held the seat for 10-long-years, and has nothing to show for it. Chequering the political equation further is the lack of a strong regional political party that could decisively swing the elections one way or the other.

Currently, for me though, no matter which candidate loses, the Gorkhas have already won, and here’s why.

2017: The game changer

Not many may be aware that till date, Nepali – a language, which is one of the recognised national languages of India, and is included under the 8th Schedule of our Constitution, is not included as an optional paper in the West Bengal Civil Services (WBCS). While one can choose Nepali as an optional paper in the IAS exams, its non-inclusion was highlighted repeatedly in West Bengal Legislative Assembly, yet the powers that be have continued their defiant stand against Nepali language inclusion in WBCS.
These are copies of the same textbook -- same class, same subject. While the copy on the left, for Nepali medium schools, is printed in black and white, the right is for Bengali medium schools, printed in colour
File image

Instances of textbooks published by the West Bengal Secondary School Board discriminating against Nepali language have been reported in local media over the years. The most blatant of all being a Nepali medium book being printed in black and white, whereas books in other languages were printed in colour. After the failure of Gorkhaland agitation in 2013, the Trinamool Congress government had increasingly shown their disdain towards Nepali language, and there was a growing resentment against the same.

On May 15, 2017, West Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee made an announcement that “the government [of WB] will introduce three-language policy, the students will have to take Bengali compulsory as one of the three languages”.

This same fact was reiterated by Mamata herself in a Facebook post dated May 16.

The Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars, which have a very cosmopolitan mixture of Gorkhas – Nepali, Lepcha, Bhutia – Adivasis, Rajbonshis, Rabha, Toto, Mech, Bengali, Bihari, Marwari, Punjabi and almost every other major ethnic groups from various parts of India erupted in protests. Leading the protests were the Gorkhas whose lingua franca is Nepali.

Gorkhaland agitation: A quick recall

Protests against attempt at linguistic imperialism on the part of TMC government quickly snowballed into a full-fledged demand for separate state of Gorkhaland. Even quicker was the response of the state machinery, which violently crushed the movement. The Gorkhas, who were demanding the formation of a Gorkhaland state within the geographic, political and constitutional contours of India, were labelled as separatists and terrorists. The administration even said those demanding Gorkhaland have linkages to militants in Northeast and Maoists in Nepal, they didn’t bother mentioning which faction, though.
Darjeeling residents take part in a protest against, what they call, linguistic imperialism

Towards the end of September 2017, the Gorkhaland statehood movement had died a natural death, with movement leaders choosing to go underground.

Ready at hand were second-rung leaders, who quickly stepped in to fill the void, not in leading the agitation for Gorkhaland statehood, but in handling the local Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) on behalf of the West Bengal government.

Since then, there have been attempts at completely subverting any and all forms of expressing of the Gorkha identity issue in the region.

As all of this was unfolding BJP and its entire leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi preferred to keep a safe distance from the entire issue, and didn’t even utter a single word of sympathy, solidarity, support or outrage. It was almost like, for BJP, the perils facing Gorkhas was an unpleasant distraction, they could very well do without.

The Congress and CPI (M), the other two main political parties in the region, did make some noise about everyone coming to the table and indulging in a dialogue to resolve the impasse, both were functionally indifferent towards the plight and sufferings of the Gorkhas.

Time and tide

But the Gorkhas are a hardy bunch, and we endured all the hardships, with a smile on our lips and hope in our hearts.

Today, as the election comes knocking at the door, lo and behold, the Gorkhas are a priority for all the political parties. Every major political party is trying their best to reconnect with the Gorkhas, whom they had, for all intent and purpose, forsaken and left for dead only a year ago.

Today, three among the four major political parties have nominated a Nepali speaking individual as their candidate for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat. BJP has nominated Raju Bista, CPI (M) has nominated Saman Pathak, and Trinamool Congress has nominated Amar Singh Rai. Congress has nominated Sankar Malakar, who by the virtue of being a bhoomiputra from Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency is fluent in Nepali. In fact on his very day after being given the Congress ticket, he headed to Kurseong and interacted with the locals, reminding them of TMC atrocities and BJP betrayals in the language majority of the people in the region speak – Nepali.

Raju Bista is a political novice, but what swung BJP ticket in his favour was his Indian Gorkha heritage. The BJP is hoping that his ‘Gorkhaness’ will rub off against the unpopular anti-Gorkha stand of TMC during the Gorkhaland agitation in the region and help their candidate to shine. Their secret weapon, his mother tongue, is the same that of the shared lingua franca of our region – Nepali.

Saman Pathak comes with years of experience in politics; in fact, he is one of the most experienced candidates around. His father, Anand Pathak, too, has represented Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat in Parliament, and he was himself a member of Rajya Sabha previously. His mother tongue, too, is Nepali.

As for Trinamool Congress, which wanted to impose Bengali across West Bengal, they didn’t move even a single paper in that regard after the protests against their attempted linguistic imperialism broke out in Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars. What is almost ironic is that TMC that brutally crushed down the demand for a land of our own is desperately trying to project their candidate Amar Singh Rai as a son-of-the soil Bhoomiputra. The very same TMC that had labelled Gorkhas as being separatists and terrorists, is today talking about protecting the IDENTITY of the Gorkhas.

The Gorkhas have endured, now it’s time to thrive

From my count, we, the Gorkhas, have endured all that the time, government, system and bureaucracy had thrown our way, and survived. We are still Gorkhas – unchanged, and our indomitable spirit remains unconquered. Every political party that had sought to crush us, that had been indifferent towards our plight, that had been apathetic to our distress, that had been unconcerned towards our misery and suffering are today pandering to us.

For me, this is a win

We, the Gorkhas, have survived, and no matter who loses the upcoming elections or wins, we shall thrive.

(Upendra M Pradhan is a Darjeeling-based political analyst and editor-at-large at The Darjeeling Chronicle. He can be reached at pradhanum@gmail.com)

Source - https://www.eastmojo.com/opinion/2019/04/09/no-matter-who-loses-we-the-gorkhas-have-already-won

ELECTION 2019: NRC, the latest talking point

3:11 PM
Writes NN Ojha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Via The DT

Nepali language as one of the most takers during CBSE

2:23 PM
JAI GORKHA: Punjabi, Malayalam, Bengali, Nepali found most takers during CBSE boards

In the recently concluded CBSE board examinations, Punjabi, Malayalam and Tamil were the regional language papers with the most number of candidates in class X.

In class XII, the highest number of candidates appeared for Punjabi and Bengali papers, with Nepali coming in third.

The board offers 38 languages at the class XII level, and 34 at the class X level. These include Hindi, English and Urdu, along with a range of regional and some foreign languages.

Among the foreign languages, French was the most popular — 15,722 candidates in class X and 134 in class XII. German was the second most popular, with 2,611 in class X and 80 in class XII.

[Via: Indian Express]

Darjeeling Lok Sabha Election 2019 and the Gorkhas

9:10 AM
TMC
Darjeeling Parliamentary Constituency Election 2019 and the Gorkhas: Some Observations

Writes: Dr Vimal Khawas

The Gorkhas of Darjeeling Hills, as initially decided, could not arrive at a common consensus candidate. Therefore, a total of sixteen (16) potential and aspiring candidates affiliated to various political parties as well as those desiring to contest as independent candidates have filed their nominations for the position of the Member of Parliament from Darjeeling Lok Sabha Constituency in the upcoming General Elections, 2019. Darjeeling Constituency is, perhaps, one of the most fiercely contested constituencies in the country today.


If we closely examine the current electoral landscape in the region, the pattern broadly looks as follows:

Clearly, chances of an independent candidate to emerge victoriously are slim to none, both because of their past political baggage and also due to the lack of their ability to create an adequate platform for grassroots mobilizations. Further, lesser political parties like, CPIM, BSP, IDRF, GRC and even national parties like INC may also not be able to wield much impact in the ensuing election due to both local and regional political dynamics.

Consequently, there are primarily two probable political scenarios to choose from before us for this election. Leaving aside political contenders highlighted above, the real fight is only between TMC (supported by GJMM2) and BJP (supported by GJMM1 and GNLF).

Scenario #1:

If we vote for TMC and make them victorious, there is a very high degree of probability that Mamata Banerjee would gradually grab the entire region under her fold. This election is just a gateway for Mamata and her party TMC to bigger political shares in the region via MLA and GTA elections, subsequently. The steady increase of TMC domination in the hills also means steady uprooting and waning of Gorkha identity and Gorkha political aspirations. They are inversely related to each other.

Under such a situation, in a decade or two, the entire notion of Gorkha and Gorkhaland may have been rendered irrelevant! We may be only referred to as a Thapa, a Chettri, a Bhujel, a Damai, a Rai, a Kami, a Sherpa, a Limbu, a Lepcha, a Bahun, a Dukpa, a Sarki, a Newar or Nepalis and many times immigrant Nepalis. We would, most probably, cease to be the Gorkhas. No one would have the guts to utter ‘Jai Gorkha’. We all may collectively and/or forcefully be made to chant ‘Jai Bangla’.

She is already on her way up the hills with a number of detrimental political cards. Her Development Board approach is one of the ways forward in this regard. She would never go for such appeasement politics had she loved the region and its people, to the extent of dividing the Gorkhas into ethnic lines. More importantly, TMC’s unscientific and draconic handling of the 2013 and 2017 Gorkhaland agitation/uprising is yet another critical example of how it perceives the Gorkhas and their long pending aspirations in the region.

Scenario #2:

If we vote for BJP and render them victorious, nothing may happen. The last 10 years were rather fruitless and going by that trend, the next five years may not bear fruit, either.BJP may be busy spreading its political and strategic tentacles across geographical spaces of the country with its Hindutva card. It may keep on struggling to take control of Bengal but without any notable results. BJP would not give us Gorkhaland! They have their state government in Assam. Has Bodoland been able to see the light of the day?

This MP would, in all likelihood remain a mere puppet within the larger framework and schemes of Bharatiya Janata Party!

However, the Gorkhas will have the freedom to shout ‘Jai Gorkha’ and ‘We want Gorkhaland’ under BJP unlike under TMC which is fundamentally and ideologically against the idea of Gorkha and Gorkhaland! And yes Gorkhas would, at least, have the hope to have their own separate state called ‘Gorkhaland’ or to be known by any other name someday.

Sapana nai bhaye pani haami dekhneh chau ra dekhi rahaneh chau

The choice is ours, to opt for scenario #1 or #2. No one shall force us.

Concluding Note:

The unscientific, unorganized and premature conclusion of 2017 Gorkha uprising has deeply lowered the self-respect and dignity of the entire Gorkha community. It may be difficult to reinstate our old glory in the foreseeable future unless we unite and stay united. For the first time, I feel insecure to wear a T-shirt that reads ‘I support Gorkhaland’ even in Kalimpong, not to talk of Siliguri.

For me ‘Entry of TMC into Darjeeling Politics is beginning of the end of Gorkha Political Aspirations’

[Originally posted on : https://thedarjeelingchronicle.com/darjeeling-parliamentary-constituency-election-2019-and-the-gorkhas-some-observations/]

11-Year-Old Girl Child Molested in Kalimpong

12:03 PM

HORRIFIC: 11-Year-Old Girl Child Molested in Kalimpong

SPECIAL REPORT: Nisha V Chettri

After an incident of molestation to a minor that came to light through social networking sites, the accused allegedly identified as Govind Sarki has been absconding, while the little survivor admits that she was molested.

Sarki is known to be a driver (Driving white WagonR) by profession, living with a wife and daughter of two. According to the information received from the survivor’s family, the mother, who suffers from fluency disorder, used to walk her towards her school every day. On Friday, Sakri coincidently was around their locality and volunteered to drop the girl to her school, which he used to do once in a while.
11-Year-Old Girl Child Molested in Kalimpong
On the way to her school, he stopped the car in an isolated area, came out of the driver’s seat, got in the second seat, locked the door, removed her shirt and molested her. It was known that she was alone in the car.

She returned home later in the (Friday) evening and told her mother about the incident, her mother, on the other hand, was not (fully) believed by her family members because of her disorder.

On Sunday, when the family members prepared to give the girl a bath, they asked her about the incident and she said everything slowly. The family members later took her to Sarki’s house to identify him, he was not present. When his photo was shown, she started shivering with fear, informed the family members. They filed an FIR later in the evening on Sunday and admitted her at the District Hospital for her medicals.

‘He also bit her in sensitive parts of the body’ said the family source, while the survivor was nodding behind her at the District Hospital when asked her, ‘How old are you?’ she responded ‘I am turning 11 soon’

It was also known that he gave her 10 rupees before and after he abused her. Sarki, on the other hand, has been absconding ever since the incident

‘If the kid is lying or unsure, why would he abscond after the incident?’ questioned the family members.

However, as per the verbal order of Child Welfare Committee-Alipurduar, (In-Charge Kalimpong), she was sent to Bal Suraksha Abhiyan (An NGO) in the evening, for the temporary shelter.

The case is filed in the Women Police Station and the police sources said that they are investigating in the matter.

Via TheDC

NRC Won't Hurt Gorkhas, Says PM Narendra Modi

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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


Via ndtv

 
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