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

Pratiman Singh Lama ‘A Jewel of the Himalayas’

10:50 AM
Some great people with extraordinary mind and characteristics have walked the face of the earth since time immemorial. Many of them became divine masters, legends and heroes and their stories have been told and listened incalculable number of times primarily because people did not forget them, neither did their nation nor the era. Even after they are long gone and their mortal remains turned into dust, their names and their deeds are eternally inscribed in the history of mankind.

Alongside those great men, many other heroes sacrificed their lives for the same cause or motive as their superior counterpart engaged in altogether but sadly they were forgotten in the course of time. Perhaps some of them are the ones who made those legends’ tales told. But their inglorious contributions were never mentioned or valued as they might have gone unnoticed, uneventful or unheard. Or for the matter, their magnificent role was conspicuously hidden in the darkness for one or multiple reasons.
Pratiman Singh Lama
Pratiman Singh Lama 

The fame of their valiant role might have resonated for a brief period but eventually became unknown as though they never existed. Amongst them some might even have turned out to be just a myth and some, as we, the modern human and intellectual people politely classify as the Unsung Heroes and permanently concealed their identities in the dark dungeons of history.

Being human and possessing humanly instinctive behavior, we often tend to commit such errors but on the other side we also do identify and realize our wrong doings henceforth make effort to rectify them to the best of our abilities. Being forgetful is not a sin but being ungrateful is indeed an immoral act.

The following illustration is also a historical factual of an extremely courageous, diligent and patriotic personality who loved his people and country more than his own existence yet generous and humble.

Historical Fact:

We have heard and read umpteenth times that our fathers and grand fathers have immensely contributed to our great nation in various avenues and has set prominent milestones in the history of pre and post independent India. Those valiant sons of our motherland contributed to the society and country as a whole through their specific line of expertise in different arena such as; art & culture, education & literature, medicine, sports, business but most importantly for nation’s independence and national security. Those great souls most painstakingly and courageously sacrificed their lives for the betterment of our society and people. Their remarkable stories of heroism and patriotism have been repeatedly told end number of times over a period of more than two centuries. However, every one of those great men are not remembered and revered today as our society and government forgot their roles in building our modern society and furthermore ignored their exceptional deeds as if they never existed. One of them was Late PRATIMAN SINGH LAMA.

Born in the year 1895 to a moderate family of Late Mangal Singh Lama and Jethi Tamang of Tekbir Busty, Kurseong, Darjeeling, Late Pratiman Singh Lama was exceptionally smart and intelligent person since his boyhood days. He acquired his primary education from the then Middle English School, presently known as Puspa Rani Higher Secondary School, Kurseong and later received secondary education in Darjeeling Government High School where he was given a monthly stipend from the government at the rate of Rs.3 as he always stood first and few times in second position among his fellow classmates.

In 1910, he completed his matriculation which was known as Inter Examination during that period, securing first position. On his glorious success in passing tenth standard, the entire Darjeeling District rejoiced and celebrated and was even carried around the town on a palanquin. He was conferred such an honour by the people because it was indeed a matter of great pride and triumph for the whole region and Gorkha community in particular as there were very few who could achieve educational qualification up to tenth standard. The jovial news also reached the ears of the then District Collector and he immediately called on to the boy’s father Mangal Singh Lama and congratulated him He then offered his best possible help for the boy’s further studies and for opting a government job. Highly obliged father thanked the DC and expressed his desire to make his son a forest ranger as his son could wear a hat, a full-length uniform and ride on a horseback and would not have to get down while passing by a British officer - as in those days any Indian riding a horse would have to get down and greet the passing British officer (as quoted by Shri G.B. Bal in Sunchari nepali newspaper on 05/05/2004).

Subsequently, Shri Pratiman Singh Lama was sent to Dowhill Forest School for few weeks to undergo basic training and later to F.C. College, Jalpaiguri. Then onwards, with the help of government he was sent to study and undergo training at Forest Research and Training Institute, Dehradun. He studied and received the training for two years. There also he accomplished his education and training in first division. During those days such commissioned forest official was given a title of DDR (Dehradun Rangers) hence he was also awarded the same. After his return to Kurseong he was appointed as a Ranger in Dowhill Forest Office.

A few years later, he married Phulmaya Tamang, daughter of Pakhrin Sardar of Longview Tea Estate. His father-in-law was highly respectable personality who was a contractor of Saat Ghumti Tea Estate during those days. As years passed by, they had five children (2 daughters and 3 sons) out of them the eldest son died at an early age. They were namely, Tekendra Kumar Lama (died at an early age), Manorama Lama, Narendra Kumar Lama, Mahendra Kumar Lama and the youngest daughter Tilotama Lama.

Pratiman Singh Lama
Pratiman Singh Lama 
In the meanwhile, he was temporarily posted at various forest offices of the region – Kalijhora, Teesta, Tarkhola and eventually in 1918 he was given a promotion and became a Divisional-Forest-Officer (DFO) and was transferred to Baikunthapur Forest Office. This office used to be located near present day 2nd Mile, Siliguri.

Political Life:

Despite his highly respectable government service and ample future securities he was somehow more concerned and inclined towards the national issues, social condition of his fellow-citizens. Deep within his conscience he wanted to seriously work for the betterment of the society. In short, he did not want to work under the British Government because of its corrupt and malicious policies and rules. He could analyze and understand vividly the cruelty and suppression against Indians. Thus, he affirmatively decided to dedicate his time and knowledge for the greater cause of the country, its social reforms and fight against British Raj’s dominance as in those days the British authorities deprived our peoples’ civil and fundamental rights and were discriminated in varied ways. Racism and oppression against native Indians were the most common tribulations.

Late Pratiman Singh Lama was not just an ordinary man employed as a forest officer but he was also a versatile writer of that era. He was a brilliant writer, a poet, a columnist, and an editor. He possessed incredible sense of humor and replicated this quality in his writings. One of his greatest masterpieces was novel titled, ‘Mahakaal Jasoos’ a political satire based on Indian Gorkhas. It is said that; His Majesty’s Royal Nepalese Government demanded and received tax as ‘Royalty’ from the British Government imposed on bona fide Indian Gorkhas while joining Indian Army and in that book Pratiman Singh Lama had strongly condemned and criticized the practice/law. Through this book he disgraced both the governments of such mal-practice and dared to reveal their dishonorable practice in front of the society. The novel immediately drew attention of British and Nepalese Government and consequently within a day all the books were seized from bookstands and other sources and were practically burnt and destroyed by the officials of both the Governments. Afterwards, some said one survived piece of the aforementioned book was seen in one of the libraries in Kathmandu, Nepal but there is no evident proof. Many scholars/intellectuals including Pratiman Singh Lama’s younger son, Late Mahendra Kumar Lama anxiously searched for its existence in India as well as in Nepal but sadly no one have ever succeeded in finding one.

Some of his highly celebrated books are:

1. Mahakaal Jasoos:
This famous controversial book was printed at Hari Printing Press, Kurseong in 1919. This book is regarded as the first Nepali Novel written outside Nepal by many researchers and Nepali writers.

2. Should Hillman join Politics:
The articles of this book were published in ‘Young India’ a very famous news paper of that period which was established by Gandhiji.

3. Khukuri Vs Kripan
This book was written on the basis of ban enforced by the government on carrying ‘Khukuri’ (a traditional dagger) to the then nepali residents of Assam and created problems as carrying one at all times was like an integral part of daily life and symbolic to male Gorkha/Nepali. This article was also published in ‘Young India’ and ‘Amrita Bazar Patrika’ and thereafter compelled the government to lift the ban.

4. Paak Parimal
A remarkable Nepali book on culinary art and its variety, recipes and some special cuisine prepared during special occasions, festivals and religious ceremonies.

During his life time he wrote many articles, books, short-stories and poems. He was also a correspondent for Amrita Bazaar Yugantar News paper and by understanding all these facts it would not be inappropriate that through his publications he, thereby immensely contributed valuable treasures in the field of literature too. He was also an executive member (Editorial Section) of Gorkha Public Library of Kurseong. This library has its own brilliant significance and is a symbol of Gorkha heritage in the country. He was also elected twice as the Chairman of Kurseong Municipality.

Late Pratiman Singh Lama was a very simple and ordinary looking man who mostly wore plain white khadi clothes. He was kind hearted and docile natured. He loved his countrymen and would often go to interior areas of tea gardens located in the surrounding hills and valleys to meet them. He was also fond of his family and loved his children but he was disciplined and well-mannered. He would often tell other people and his folks to stay away from alcohol and social vices like drinking, domestic violence, gambling.

While still serving in the Forest Department, he constantly remained unhappy and hated the vile system of the British government and the way the Indians were treated with humiliation and were subjected to disgraceful punishments if anyone dared to raise a voice against the atrocities. Simultaneously, he seriously thought that it would be ethically wrong to rise against the British government and yet work under the same. Hence, he decided to resign from the post of Divisional-Forest-Officer (DFO) eventually and leaped towards the National Freedom Movement of India.

India’s Freedom Movement:

Because of his extreme affection and respect towards the society and its people and nation as a whole, he began to work extensively for the sole purpose of National Movement for Freedom, its importance and urgency. He most dedicatedly emphasized to bring the sense of awareness in people and necessity to unite to fight against the foreign dominance. He went on meeting townsfolk and visited rural tea garden areas for the same. Later, during his days of prohibition to meet local people and hold meetings, he used to quietly sneak behind the police disguised as a blind old man and went on meeting people from rural tea gardens. He was often addressed as ‘Andha Bajey’ – blind old man by those village children and followed him around. Somewhere around late 1980’s one of those children had grown old narrated this story himself to the family members of Late Mahendra Kumar Lama.

In the year 1919, he joined Gandhiji’s National Movement ‘Satyagraha’. He became the President of National Congress Committee, Darjeeling, (District Level) after Late Dal Bahadur Giri. Then onwards he became a serious threat to the government and as a result he was enlisted as an unlawful citizen in police and administration records. He was frequently detained and interrogated by the police and numerous times his house was searched and countless papers and documents were seized. After his father’s demise, he moved to Tekbir Busty where he built a house and named it ‘Polyview’ which still exists. He became even more determined and insistent on doing work for India’s Freedom Movement after meeting Gandhiji in 1925 when the great leader – father of Nation had come to Darjeeling to meet legendary politician of West Bengal Late Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das who had fallen ill and was recuperating in the hills. During Gandhiji’s visit congress delegates came to meet him from all four sub-divisions of Darjeeling. Pratiman Singh Lama also met Gandhiji heading the Congress delegation from Kurseong.

At Kurseong, his close associates were Late Sita Ram Agrawal, Late Keshar Bahadur Gurung, Late Trichandra Gupta, Late Suraj (Sarju) Prasad Poddar, Late Savitri Devi (Helen Lepcha) and many others. Those great souls also have unique and huge contribution towards National Freedom Movement.

Late P.S. Lama relentlessly wanted to bring social and political awareness in the society and travelled extensively to educate people and make them understand the Gandhian philosophies and principles on national movement for freedom of our country. He even ran a secret printing press where he could print important papers, journals and books. Those days, he was financially very strong as he owned over three hundred fifty-five acres of land near present day Champasari which was known as Madlaguri Joth during that time and another equal measure of agricultural land in Naxalbari region namely, Bhelku Joth and Lohar Singh Joth which produced huge amount of rice, mustard and other cash crops were cultivated by his tenants/caretakers. The income generated from these fields was considerably high.

Apart from these agricultural territories, he owned several landed properties in Tekbir Busty, Merry View Tea Estate, Sukna Army Cantonment area and even a piece of land in the heart Siliguri town (present location Kurseong Medical, Hill Cart Road). His source of income was reasonably sufficient for him and his family’s survival but altogether he could also spend huge sums of money for the political cause which indeed was circumstantial necessity and were recurrent too. During those days he also travelled far and wide to various parts of the country like Banaras, Allahabad, Kanpur, Calcutta, Bombay, Lahore, Delhi to meet eminent political personalities and attend various national level political conferences and meetings. He spent his valuable time and resources for the good cause of the society in all possible support, for the higher objective of the country – India’s Freedom from British Rule.

It is said that during the famous ‘Great Trial’, Gandhiji was sentenced to six years imprisonment and consequently the entire country became agitated and rose against the court’s verdict. The fire of resentment spread throughout the country and also caught Darjeeling Hills in its flare. Under the chairmanship of Pratiman Singh Lama, several protest gatherings/meetings took place. The people of Darjeeling took to the streets in revolt and protested against the injustice done to Gandhiji. During one of such secret meetings, the police was secretly informed and while the meeting was taking place the police raided the gathering where he was severely beaten up with batons and even one of the policemen merciless fractured his nose with a heavy torch-light. Thereafter, he was kept under house-arrest and was not allowed to meet anyone or for that matter he was not permitted to go anywhere. The police officials raided the entire house and confiscated all the documents and journals.

In 1942, during Quit India Movement, he was completely involved and thoroughly participated at several protests and public demonstrations as a result he was arrested and brutally tortured. Following the incident his health condition started deteriorating. After his wife’s death his condition worsened further as there were only children at home who could not take proper medical care and give necessary attention. As a freedom fighter he not only sacrificed his family, a government service, his youth but he had also contributed and donated huge sums of money and wealth. He generously utilized so much of cash and valuables for the cause of national freedom that he literally became penniless and spent his last days in sheer misery and poverty and finally his mortal body could no longer endure the pain and agony of his ailment. Ultimately on the darkest day of Gorkha history Shri PRATIMAN SINGH LAMA died at his residence, Polyview, Kurseong, Darjeeling on 4th May 1944 at the age of forty nine. It also said that he was conferred with an honor of National Freedom Fighter and his body was draped in Indian National Flag at the time of cremation. As a result, our Gorkha/Nepali community, our country lost a great freedom fighter forever.

But it is extremely sad and unfortunate to state that such an astonishing person who was a social-worker, a political leader, All India Congress Committee President- Darjeeling (pre independence), a learned master, a writer, an author, a poet and principally a loyal citizen of India did not get any form of recognition after independence in 1947. Perhaps, our country’s famed politicians; leaders of Indian National Congress did not consider his contributions as equal as theirs. But on the contrary, on 15th August, 1947 Kalimpong Drivers’ Association constructed and inaugurated a brass plated Memorial pedestal whereon his name is engraved and it still exists at Kalimpong Motor Stand. Born on the soil of Kurseong and a pride of entire Darjeeling Hills, Late Pratiman Singh Lama was remembered occasionally by some reputed writers and consequently his articles were published in local English, Hindi, Bengali and Nepali Newspapers but till date no association, organization, politicians or state government has taken any initiative to recognize his sacrifices and contributions on a national level.

An Appeal to the Government:

Even after a person of his stature dies, his name should not be forgotten – his enormous contributions towards mankind, society and his country should be valued and respected by our people, our community and our country. I believe it is our moral responsibility and humanly duty to remember, honor and express our sense of gratification towards such an incredible person who lived for his countrymen and died for his country.

With much respect and humility I have attempted to illustrate notable facts in regard to his noteworthy both personal and political life episodes herein which may not be justifiable to have transformed into a few unworthy words yet I strongly trust in your authority and sense of nationalism that after your thorough reading and analysis you would positively grant justice and recognition to his supreme contribution to the society and nation at large.

§ National Freedom Fighter Status:

Late Pratiman Singh Lama most sincerely and dedicatedly involved and worked for the cause of the freedom movement of our country at various levels and capacities and helped and motivated other freedom fighters of Kurseong, Darjeeling and Kalimpong to spread the sense of awareness and importance among common people. He vigorously worked towards reaching and making people understand the principles of Gandhi and unite in the movement in support of the nation wide demand for country’s freedom from Colonial supremacy and atrocities. He traveled far and wide like Delhi, Lahore, Bombay, Calcutta, Banaras, Allahabad, Kanpur to meet distinguished political personalities and attend various regional and national level political conferences and meetings and also to discuss and prepare strategies of the movement in the hills and other areas. He spent his valuable time and resources for the good cause of the society in all possible support, for the higher objective of the country – India’s Freedom from British Rule.

During the movement he personally met Gandhiji in 1925 during his historical visit to Darjeeling to meet legendary Shri Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das. Shri Lama had led the National Congress delegates from Kurseong to meet Gandhiji. Late P.S. Lama often visited the distant areas of surrounding tea gardens of Kurseong and Darjeeling to meet the common people and make them understand the reason and urgency of the freedom. He did so to widespread the message and motive of Gandhiji. He persistently worked towards bringing awareness to the furthest areas even to the extent of disguising himself as a blind man, a ragged homeless man during the prohibition imposed on him to meet the local people and was subjected to house arrest.

Despite of all odds and warnings from the administrative authorities and police, Shri Lama did not keep quiet and stay away from doing activities for the freedom movement rather he went on meeting people and addressed them during meetings at public places. He even organized secret indoor meetings with his colleagues. During one such public meeting police personals abruptly attacked the gathering and physically assaulted Shri P.S. Lama and severely injured him. He was then arrested and was charged as committing cognizable offence. Due these brutal assault and internal injuries and also non-availability of medical treatment he succumbed to his serious internal wounds and died at early age.

It is my most humble request to the government that Pratiman Singh Lama’s extreme affection and respect for the nation and simultaneously involving in the Freedom Movement of India and serving the nation for its great cause till his last breath, he undoubtedly deserves an honour and respect from the Government and as mark of tribute and gratification he should be awarded a National Freedom Fighter Status.

§ Conferment of Tamra Patra:

In reference to the facts about Tamra Patra Award, to the best of my knowledge this prestigious certificate/award is given to individuals for their participation in the Indian Freedom Struggle. But sadly why do most Indians know very little about the Northeastern states? Why is there very little information about these states and their role in Indian history and the freedom struggle? as quoted by Subhayan Purkayastha. A twelve (12) year old girl Aaira Goswami, originally from Assam and currently residing in Jaipur has written a letter to The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi saying “I know the history of almost whole of India; Jammu & Kashmir to Tamil Nadu, from Mughals to British, from Rajasthan to Kolkata. But where is the long lost glory of the Seven Sisters. Some students don’t even know what the Seven Sisters are. It is very difficult to find things about the Northeast in my books. If I could just read about my state, Assam, and Northeast in my book it would be like a dream come true.”

In a similar context, very few people more specifically speaking, the historians know or have written about the region within the Indian Territory – Darjeeling, Kurseong & Kalimpong to name in particular and its people who fought courageously for the freedom movement of India and sacrificed their lives for this country. Amongst those brave freedom fighters, Late Pratiman Singh Lama too participated and valiantly protested against the British Government through his writings in books & journals, illustrating in various newspapers of that period, resigning from his government service from the post of senior forest official, meeting and attending several national level conferences and meetings with illustrious politicians and leaders of the National Congress, organized political meetings and headed protest rallies against the policies and rules of the British authorities, elected and served twice as the Municipal Commissioner of Kurseong Municipality for a period between 28.04.1941 to 04.05.1944.

He was put under house-arrest in Kurseong and his books, journals, notes, important documents were seized by the British police and authorities. According to an illustration he was arrested and trialed. He sacrificed everything for the cause of the freedom struggle including his family and landed property. Even his house was captured by others (non-family members) making false and fake land papers. His minor children literally came to the streets after his death. His two sons, Narendra Kumar Lama and Mahendra Kumar Lama were practically thrown out of the school (Middle English School-present day Pushpa Rani High School, Kurseong) and their names were erased from the school register on the instruction of British authorities as because they were children of a Freedom Fighter – children of Pratiman Singh Lama. His daughters were married at an early age because there was no one to look after them and protect them. Shri Lama contributed for the good cause of the nation so much but till this very date the government has never valued his immeasurable contributions and showed gratitude in any manner.

Hence, I request the concerned authorities of the Government of India to at least pay respect and acknowledge his immense contribution in building our nation by awarding him with country’s prestigious award – ‘TAMRA PATRA’.

1. I most humbly wish to make an appeal to your gracious self that considering his immeasurable contribution to this great nation, our state of West Bengal and Darjeeling as well as Kalimpong districts in particular should commemorate a day in a year to pay tribute to this great soul – Late Pratiman Singh Lama. The day must be observed in harmony by all and should also make our nation realize that such great Gorkha citizen once lived and died for the freedom of India.

2. I would also like to courteously urge the government and administration that in the process to pay tribute and continually remember Late Pratiman Singh Lama, a ‘Memorial’ of his statue must be erected at a suitable/precise location as a mark of honor and reverence. This benevolent act will certainly convey a tremendous sense of admiration and pride amongst our people and glorify our history of nationalism and our peoples’ contributions and sacrifices for the great cause of our country and its grandeur. The statue would be a hallmark of our people, of our existence, of our history and most importantly of our role in the making of this country – a free country, an independent country.

3. Similarly I would also wish to put forward my humble submission that along with above stated prayer it would be even higher gesture if a landmark/ government premise/ road or any other important venue could be named after him. As a token of remembrance and gratification on behalf of our entire region, community, society and the government we could at least pay our homage in this manner and set an example for the forth-coming generation that we have not yet forgotten our legends’ gallantry sacrifices and will not be ignorant to value their blood and tears spilt for our today and our children’s better tomorrow.

In addition to the same matter, I would also like to request you to kindly include a proposal to the relevant ministry of West Bengal to incorporate a text book or least an elaborate chapter of Late Pratiman Singh Lama either at secondary or senior secondary school syllabus. In my personal opinion it would undoubtedly boost up and motivate our children to set their goals with much determined and stronger aptitude. I ardently believe that such excellent historical facts about our own people will further strengthen their attitude towards society and help in their personality development which is absolutely necessary quality in our children. Since ancient times, people have been studying history as an essential subject as because history helps to build our future in a more superior and brilliant manner apparently the reason being we get to study about great people and their even greater deeds. Hence, I may kindly be allowed to make a strong suggestion on this matter. Since premature standards of our schooling we have read about numerous heroes and their glorious achievements and as a result we get highly inspired and desire for doing somewhat similar praiseworthy work because they teach and make us aware of our capabilities and also should learn to utilize our wisdom not just for our personal enhancement but we should comprehend on our social and national issues and interests. Therefore, when we emphasize and study on world history then why also we study about our own people, our roots simultaneously.

It is my honor and privilege to humbly request you to kindly make a strong and effective proposition to the concerned ministry to introduce/initiate a Postal Stamp of Late Pratiman Singh Lama which will indeed be a greatest honor and respect to acknowledge his immense contribution towards the freedom movement of our county. It would certainly be a milestone in the history of India and make the citizens proud that such lion-hearted legend once born in India and sacrificed his life for the sanctity and honor of his motherland to which he loved and respected beyond ordinary degree. Your voice and support towards this noble cause would incredibly boost our optimism and eternally remain grateful to you.

Before I conclude this article, I would like to highlight the following matter which is of absolute mystery and injustice and ask for your serious intervention and initiative to a satisfactory conclusion. I have mentioned above that Late Pratiman Singh Lama possessed considerably a large volume of landed properties chiefly his private residence, Polyview at Tekbir Busty, Kurseong, agricultural lands around Mallaguri and Champasari, Loha Singh Joth & Bhelku Joth near Naxalbari. It is also stated that after his demise his four surviving children who were barely teenagers and did not have adequate knowledge about assets and rightful inheritance. In fact, after their father’s untimely death they literally became orphans and were neglected by relatives and other known people in every possible manner. They were practically plundered and became homeless and were denied reasonable help due to fear of British authorities since their father was red marked as an activist, a freedom fighter and tagged as anti-national. Their situation turned out so pathetic that even a decent meal of a day became a futile dream and their reality turned into a horrific nightmare. It is said that whosoever gave shelter to a family of a person who dared to struggle for freedom would be seriously dealt by the law even to the extent of physical torture and imprisonment. Alas, they ran helter-skelter and were ultimately disintegrated from each other for over twenty years. The youngest daughter never ever met any of her siblings. Only once she could meet one of her brothers during his last days.

Now the mystery is, who took all the assets and how? Was it his family, his colleagues? Or for that matter the government itself? And how did this all happen?

On this matter I would like to amplify a fraction of truth.

Late Mahendra Kumar Lama, younger son of Late Pratiman Singh Lama years later came back to Kurseong and attempted to find out his father’s lost possessions and pursued to retrieve through legal and conventional official procedures. Despite of several legal documents obtained from various departments and sources, he was only made to run from pillar to post but not a single square inch of property was ever given back to him. It was learnt that majority of his father’s agricultural land situated in the plains was taken by the government and vested it and other properties including his family home – Polyview had already been taken by other people on the basis of fraud and manipulated documents. In the process of fighting to reclaim for what was lawfully belonged to him and his surviving family, he spent rest of his life desperately knocking at every relevant door of reigning politicians, government departments and authorities. But he was only sympathized verbally and advised to keep meeting countless officials and approach accordingly. He was corresponded a few times through some letters of government nature but none helped him to recover his family assets.

He vigorously researched and collected legal documents to prove his rights and submitted before the pertinent officials. He was also assured of some government compensation but all his trust and hope never turned to reality. He always cherished his memorable days with his parents and treasured his father’s dignity but sadly, he could never set his foot on his own land and eventually passed away in 2007 at the age of sixty seven at his residence in Salbari, Siliguri.

Even during his last few days before his demise he called on to his family and instructed them to carry on with his unfinished work and request the government to recognize his father’s contribution to the country as a genuine patriot and a valiant freedom fighter and bestow justice to his soul even if it takes time. He fought for justice all through his life but not just for wealth and assets but principally for recognition by the government of his father’s deeds and he strongly wished and expressed his desire to donate some for social cause if any of his ancestral home/ property ever returned to him. His tireless effort till the very end of his life was for justice.

Researched & Compiled by Jeetendra Lama, Salbari, Siliguri, West Bengal

Manipur Gorkha are real indigenous of Manipur

8:56 PM
The entry of the Gorkhas and their settlement in Manipur can be traced to 1819 at the earliest. It is quite probable that some scattered Nepali families were already settled in Manipur before this date. Some scholars push back the history of the Gorkhas in Manipur to the beginning of the 16th Century. Lore also has it that the first Nepali came to Manipur at the beginning of the 10th Century. He married a Meitei girl called Kumbi, who belonged to the Mayang Heikong Ningol, a popular Manipuri clan. Since this man reared cows and buffaloes in the Khuti, or the goth (cowshed), his descendants are knowns as gotimayan.

The first batch of Gorkhas came to Manipur during the time of Raja Gambhir Singh. In 1824, the Gorkhas of the 16th Sylhet Local Battalion, later to become the 8th Gorkha Rifles, were included in the Police Levy of Gambhir Singh. During the first quarter of the 19th Century, Manipur was much troubled by Burmese intruders and troops. To secure Manipur, Gambhir Singh raised an army in 1825 and recruited Gorkhas from Sylhet for it. The militia was named the ‘Victoria Paltan’. The nomenclature is a clear indication of the preponderance of Gorkhas in the army since the word paltan is a Nepali corruption of the English ‘platoon’. Having earned the trust of the British, Gorkha soldiers were detailed to protect all the Political Agents. They were also brought in as cooks, milkmen, traders and agriculturists.

The number of Gorkha soldiers in Manipur increased when the East India Company moved the 23rd, 43rd and 44th battalions of the 8th Gorkha Rifles to Manipur around 1880. Later, according to the records of the Chief Commissioner of Assam, 400 Gorkha soldiers from Golaghat and 200 from Silchar were brought in. In 1891, more were relocated to the region from other places in Assam. Maharaja Chandrakriti’s reign too saw many Gorkhas coming in.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Gorkhas were being recruited in the Assam Military Police, where 82 of them were posted at Tura in the Garo Hills Battalion, 730 were at Dibrugarh in the Lakhimpur Battalion, 331 at Kohima in the Naga Hills Battalion, 111 at Silchar in the Silchar Battalion, and 105 at Dhaka in the Dhaka Battalion.

In 1915, the 2nd Gorkha Rifles stationed at Imphal was replaced by the Darang Military Police when the renowned fighters were deployed for action somewhere in Europe. This very Darang Military Police stationed at Manipur was converted into the 4th Assam Rifles in 1917 and 80 per cent of its personnel comprised Gorkhas.

Almost all the Gorkhas who came to Manipur on active service settled there permanently after retirement. The British government allotted land to the personnel of the 4th Assam Rifles first in Thangmaiband and later in special colonies in Eroisembe, Chink, Tangri, Kalapahar, Torbung, Maram, Imphal, Irang and Kanglatombi. After 1945, many personnel from Subhas Chandra Bose’s INA also made Manipur their home.

The fact that Nepali literature’s first poetical work in print came from Manipur is proof that the Gorkhas were fully assimilated into Manipur society and its social pursuits by 1894, the year that Tulachand Alay wrote and published
Manipurko Sawai.

Via Hamro Manipur

How 750 Indian Gorkha Soldiers made 7326 Pakistani Soldiers surrender in 1971 WAR

6:30 PM
July 27, 2016 Major Gen (retired) Ian Cardozo, a hero of the 1971 war that led to the creation of Bangladesh, paid tribute to BBC’s coverage of the hostilities on Monday but recalled its one mistake that benefited India in taking on numerically superior Pakistani forces.

At the time, Cardozo was a major in a 5 Gorkha Rifles battalion, comprising about 750 soldiers, that was tasked with capturing Atgram near Sylhet.

It was short of artillery and food supplies, but ultimately managed the surrender of two Pakistan Army brigades, including three brigadiers, a colonel, 107 officers, 219 JCOs and 7,000 troops in one of the most incredible successes of the war.

Speaking at a book release event here, he said: “Today I would like to use this platform to pay tributes to the BBC. They were the only reliable broadcasting station at that time, giving news as it happened. The Indian Army had nothing to hide, so the British war correspondents were going along with our troops.
How 750 Indian Gorkha Soldiers made 7326 Pakistani Soldiers surrender in 1971 WAR
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“They were reporting minute-to-minute the progress of the battle. But they made a mistake. They announced that a ‘brigade’ of Gurkhas had landed at Sylhet. We heard it, as well as the Pakistanis. So we decided to pretend that we were a brigade.”
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Taking advantage of the misinformation, Cardozo’s battalion built on small victories and created a situation where the Pakistani troops offered to surrender on December 15, 1971. Until it happened, Cardozo and others believed a Pakistani brigade was in the area, but they were surprised to discover the final number was more than twice the strength of a brigade.

One of the most decorated officers of the Indian Army, Cardozo recalled the vital operation to capture Sylhet during a packed invitation-only event to celebrate the life of Lt Gen FN Bilimoria, former head of the central command and father of Karan Bilimoria, a member of the House of Lords.

Cardozo, a contemporary of Lt Gen Bilimoria, penned the book ”Lieutenant General Bilimoria: His Life and Times”, which was recently presented to Indian Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh in New Delhi.

The book release event here was attended by leading lights of the British Army, including former chief of general staff, Field Marshal John Chapple, and several Bangladesh citizens, who became emotional on meeting the man who played a defining role in their country’s formation.

One Bangladeshi member of the audience thanked Cardozo for the "great job you have done for us". Cardozo is expected to receive an enthusiastic reception at the Bangladesh high commission here on Tuesday.

Answering questions, Cardozo said calmly but firmly: “I do not like to use this platform to denigrate Pakistan. I think everybody knows what they are up to, what they have been up to and what they continue to do. I don’t have to elaborate.
“But India believes in peace, people, progress, development, not in war. But if war is forced upon us, as it was in 1965, in 1971 and in Kargil, we were the victors in every war,” he added to much applause.

Retired British Army officers recalled their interaction with Lt Gen Bilimoria, who was the Indian Army’s liaison officer in the School of Infantry in Warminster in the 1970s. A popular soldier, he saw action in the 1971 war and held several key posts, including GOC of the central command. Karan Bilimoria recalled the values passed on to him by his father, who died at the age of 72 in 2005.

Cardozo's remarkable military career saw him losing a leg when he stepped on a landmine in the 1971 war. He cut off his mangled leg with his own khukri and told his Gurkha batman: "Now go and bury it."

Determined not to let the disability affect his career as a soldier, he later became the first disabled officer in the Indian Army to command an infantry brigade. He has penned books on war heroes and the sinking of INS Khukri in the 1971 war.

Via defencenews
By: Hindustan Times

Dalbir Singh Lohar unsung Indian Gorkha freedom fighter from Assam

3:27 PM
Writes Sanjog Chamling

Dalbir Singh Lohar (Nepali दलबिर सिंह लोहार) , unsung Indian  Gorkha freedom fighter, was a prominent political leader of Indian Freedom Movement from Assam. He was the first Indian Gorkha to win assembly election. Shri Dalbir Singh Lohar was a popular labour leader who closely worked with the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) as he was associated with the Assam Provincial Congress. He was also the President of Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha Central from 1964 to 1968. Singh actively fought in the freedom movement of India.
Dalbir Singh Lohar
Dalbir Singh Lohar

Dalbir Singh Lohar  joined the procession led by the Congress in 1921 during Gandhiji's visit at Dibrugarh in Assam. Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi visited Assam 4 (four) times. The first visit of Mahatma Gandhi took place in the year 1921 when he was invited by Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) to propagate the message of non-cooperation in Assam.

Dalbir Singh Lohar actively took part in Satyagraha launched by Gandhiji. During the third phase of the Satyagraha campaign middle of April 1941 a large number of political leaders were kept interned at home or placed under restrication and Dalbir Singh Lohar was externed from Assam for offering Satyagraha along with other leaders.
Rare photo of Late Dalbir Singh Lohar 

During the Civil Disobedience Movement in Dibrugarh (Assam) Dalbir Singh Lohar was imprisoned from 13-10-1930 to 12-01-1931. During the Civil Disobedience movement Dalbir Singh Lohar, Bir Bahadur Chettri, Anantalal Sarma, Bhakta Bahadur Pradhan were given imprisonment by the British Authorities. During the Quit India Movement, the Indian Gorkha freedom fighters of Assam were also sentenced to rigorous imprisonment and kept in different jails of Assam.

Dalbir Singh Lohar was one of the prominent leaders of the Digboi refinery strike of 1939 (Digboi is Asia's oldest refinery and the birth place of the Oil Industry in India). In 1939, the non-unionised Digboi oil refinery workers resorted to a strike.The Gandhi Movement of Congress for Indian Independence struggle was backed by labour rights and equality hence the strike was against the British  Administration. Jawahal Lal Nehru also gave speeches at Digboi condemning capitalist exploitation. The oil sector strike which began in 1939 and was so successful that eight platoons of Assam Rifles had to be brought in to crush it. Since the break of the World War II coincided with the Digboi labour strike therefore the  British had to take harsh steps to crush the strike by shooting down the president of the Labour Union which was followed by issuing orders of Quit Digboi, Quit Lakhimpur and finally Quit Assam to the leaders of the labour union.

In the first general election of Independent India Dalbir Singh Lohar became the first Indian Gorkha to win assembly election on a Congress ticket from Assam Digboi constituency. Singh got his Congress ticket for the first election on public deamnd as because All Assam Sikh Association had recommended Dalbie Singh, Labour Digboi Constituebcy Demanded seat for him.

NOTE - Looking for more information about legend Dalbir Singh Lohar as you can see we don't even have his photo. Information regarding his early life, education, birth and anything related to him would be very helpful. Request to readers, kindly pass the valuable information about Dalbir Singh Lohar to us so that we could publish theme here. You can  send us the information at

Book -Urban History of India: A Case Study By Deepali Barua
Book - Indian Nepalis: Issues and Perspectives edited by Tanka Bahadur Subba
Book - Empire's Garden: Assam and the Making of India By Jayeeta Sharma
Information collected from Internet.

Master Mitrasen Thapa (1895 -1946) Gorkha in Indian and Nepal postal stamps

8:20 PM
Master Mitrasen Thapa Magar (1895 -1946)  (Nepali/नेपाली: मित्रसेन थापा मगर (१८१५ – १९४६)) Indian Gorkha folk singer, lyrics writer, dramatist, social worker and a Freedom Fighter who took part in World War-I Master Mitrasen Thapa was born on the 29th December 1895 in Village Totarani, Bhagsu /Dharamshala. He was called master because in those days, the society called writers and musicians as Masters. He is the only Gorkha who has been felicitated by a postal stamp by both India and Nepal. He was concerned about the quality of the Gorkha society and his works are dedicated to the people. Besides his great talent, Master Mitrasen discovered and employed three major tools in communication to the masses.

One was humor, second, easy-to-sing and pick-up songs in melodious tunes and the third, the usage of simple Nepali householders‟ language. Thus, instead of sermonising in seriously, Mitrasen Thapa used the medium of humour, drama, singing and dance. His songs first mesmerised the audience who then continued to sing them again and again. The messages got repeated in the process. Mitrasen realised the community needed to come together and get united all across. Through his creative work in the Nepali language and travelling, Mitrasen united all Gorkhas from Nepal to Darjeeling to Punjab. Mitrasen also highlighted the weaknesses of the society which could affect the future. He wrote against extravagant living and excesses of drinking.

Master Mitrasen Thapa Magar Indian Gorkha folk singer, lyrics writer, dramatist,
social worker and a Freedom Fighter who took part in World War-I
He wrote about the upliftment of women, and also the importance of high thinking and simple living. He wrote and spread in Nepali, the messages of Gautam Buddha, Bhagvad Gita and Mahabaharata for the Nepali masses to understand and imbibe in their daily lives.. He was always concerned about the quality of the Nepali society and most of his works are dedicated to the people. Instead of sermonising in serious tunes, Mitrasen Thapa used humour, drama, singing and dance to communicate his messages. There was time when everybody from Darjeeling, Sikkim, Dehradun to Dharamshala was all singing Master Mitrasen Thapa‟s songs. This was his way of uniting them all. It is said that during his travels, he found Nepalis speaking different dialects, along with the highly Sanskritised Nepali bhasha. He realised that he had to develop a simple common man‟s Nepali language which could be understood by all. He then decided to write in simple Gorkhali, easily understood by all. Like they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Lahure Ko Relimai - Master Mitrasen Thapa

Today as our society stands at crossroads, a revival of Master Mitrasen‟s works will again create the same magic. Nine of his songs are there recorded in his own voice and with his own music group. His writings have been compiled by several authors. 35 of his original Pandulipis are there. Out of which only a few have been published. A museum has been dedicated to him at his residence „Mitra Jhupro‟ in Totarani, Dharamshala /Bhagsu. The museum could do with funds and management for better care, but nevertheless it still houses his work, his costumes, his stage jewellery, his harmonium, his medals and all that he possessed in his humble life of fifty years. It is painstakingly run alone by his only daughter-in-law Smt Devkanya Devi Thapa, widow of Master Mitrsen‟s only son Late Digvijay Singh.

Her message this morning to me was “Jole Mitrasen Thapa lai prem garcha unsang yehi vinti chha.. Unko Jyot hamesha jali rahos. Yo jo mitra jhupro chha yo hamesha chamchama rahos. Ma ta aba pachharti saal ko chhu. Ekley sambhali rahu chhu. Roj Dhoopbatti jalai dinchu. Saal ma ek baari unko janam din ma sabai la khana khilai dinchu. Aru ma kya kari sakhum? ” (Those who love Master Mitrasen Thapa, should ensure that the light of the flame of his work continues)

Extracts translated from some of the books written on Master Mitrasen Thapa

1) Mitrasen: A monograph by Magan Pathik on the Nepali author. Sahitya Academy, New Delhi (1994). First edition 1989. Second edition 1994. Amongst the many Gorkhas who made major contributions to Gorkha society was Master Mitrasen Thapa. Magan „Pathik‟of Dharamshala in his Bhartiya Sahitya Academy published book „Mitrasen‟, hails Mitrasen‟s lifetime as the golden period of Indian Nepali literature history. During this time, the country was astir with spiritual, social and political thinking. After the contributions of Vivekananda, Ramtirth and Lokmanya Tilak, great men like Gandhi‟s non-violence Satyagraha made a major impact on people. These great people were very inspiring to the people.

Rabindranth Tagore, Saratchandra, Jayshankar Prasad, Maithilisharan, Premchand, Dr Iqbal, Hasrat Muradabadi, Akbar Illhabadi and Josh Malihabadi, etc are considered the blessings of this time period, to the world of literature in the languages of Bangla, Hindi and Urdu. During that time the writers of the Nepali language included Dharnidhar Sharma, Surya Vikram Gewali, Paras Mani Pradhan, Thakur Chandra Singh, Bahadur Singh Baral and

2) Master Mitrasen ko Sanchhipt Parichay by Trilok Singh Thapa Magar, Master Mitrasen Thapa Smriti Pratisthan, Kathmandu. Family background: Enriched with Multitalented virtuoso, Master Mitra Thapa Magar was born on 29th December 1895 in India, Himachal Pradesh, Kangra District, Bhagsu Dharamshala, village Dhaarakhola. He is a Sijali Magar. His original home is from Western Nepal, earlier Banglung (now Parbat zilla), and Rakhupulla village. It is said that his grandfather Santsen Thapa (Santu Thapa) in the 18th century, came via Kumaon, Garhwal and Dehradun, to Bhagsu.

After military commander Amar Singh Thapa returned to Nepal, many Gorkhali soldiers settled near the Kangra fort area. Here was born Manver Sen Thapa Magar. Mitrasen was the son of Manversen Thapa and Radha Thapa. Despite born and brought up in India, Mitrasen has made great contribution to Nepal and Nepali language through his literature, folksongs, folk theatre, and folk lore. In 1936, he started wearing Nepali daura suruwal to create awareness of the Nepali dress. He was a great writer, director, actor, singer and producer. Nepali theatre and diary writing, humour and travel writing Mitrasen‟s contribution have been hailed as immortal.

Brief life history:
Master Mitrasen studied till class 8 in the Urdu medium as was the medium then in the Himachal schools. At a young age he also learnt music. From 1912 till 1920, he joined the 1st/1st Gorkha Rifles as per family tradition. During the 1st World War he was engaged in operations in Europe and Africa. The war‟s blood, gore, violence and hatred touched his soft heart. He entertained them with hare, rode, swarthy, Baja, chudka, played with his harmonium. Maruni dance, Phusungay dance, Horitakko phaag-dance. Being of creative bend, he was not much interested in his signalling work.

In 1914, he went with his troops to France and reached the island of St Marseilles. After one year, his troops reached Mesopotamia. There they fought against the Turk army for three years (1916-18). In the WW, lakhs of people died. Lakhs of people got injured. They included many of his friends. Therefore on returning from abroad, he resigned from the army in 1920. After that he devoted himself completely to the spread of the Nepali language through the mediums of plays, story writing, drama performances, social reforms and spread of dharma for the next 24 years of his life.

Nepal Tour In 1933-35
Mitrasen undertook a long tour of Nepal and different parts of India. First he reached his family home in Nepal at Banglung. After seeing the social condition there his work is seen to have veered towards jaati sudhaar and social reformation. Towards the end of 1933, he travelled through Palpa, Gulmi and Kathmandu. With a troupe of six members he presented his prowess in drama. Then he took the same troupe and reached Calcutta. There he recorded his plays “Dhuv” “Draupadi Charitraharan” on gramophone. In 1936, while touring Kathmandu, he advised Master Ratnadas and Melva Devi that music should have Nepaliness. His last trip to Nepal was in year 1944.

At that time Folk Theatre In 1936, Master Mitrasen established the Himalayan Theatrical Company. He performed in Hindi, Urdu and Nepali plays and earned name and fame. In Nepali language, his famous unrecorded plays are „Satyawadi Raja Harishchandra (8 parts), „Satyavaan Savitri‟, etc. In Hindi and Urdu, his works include plays „Badshah Tower‟, „Darde Jigar‟, „Noor kin Putli‟, „Mashoor ki Hoor‟, etc.

Nepali Folk songs He performed in the Kathmandu‟s durbar plays, dramas, songs and shamans. He was highly felicitated for the same.

Gramophone Disc Records (Recorded in Calcutta) 
1) Malai khukrukkay paryo jethan timro bahini le.
2) Dhaan ko Bala jhulyo hazoor deshei ramailo
3) Lahureko reli ma pheshun ramrod
4) Aba ta jau kanchhi ghara, baato chha Ukali Ourahli
5) Bhana Gorkhali Daju bhai Jai Gorkhali
6) Swami na jao chhari bidesh
7) Kina garchha tanataani dui din ko chha jindagani
8) Chui chui chukiney jootta
9) Chhatre topi dhalkai dhalkayi khukri chamkayi Out of his 63 songs, only 23 have been recorded.

In 1942, he wrote the „Buddhvaani‟ in Nepali language to spread the message of the

Buddha in a simple language. From 1940 till 1944, he wrote in Nepali, „Tirth Yatra‟, „Dharma Chhora‟, „Premma Bhagwan‟, „Teen Kura‟, „Teen Yogi‟, etc. „Premma Bhagwan‟ 3) Mitra ko Diary This edition contains Epics „Mahabharat ko Prahlad‟, „Parshuram Lakshman Samvad (73 lines)‟, „Bhakt Prahlad (702 lines), „Chandra Haas (107 lines), „Veer Abhimanyu (1120 lines), etc. For women‟s emancipation he wrote „Ekadashi Vratkatha (142 lines)‟, „Satyanarayan Katha (245 lines)‟, „Vitwamagal (1760 lines)‟, „Chandra hans (170 lines) and „Sant Sukhvai (330 lines), etc

Song writing: Master Mitrasen wrote his songs in a simple language which would reach the Gorkhali masses.
For example: “Rajya Sukh bhog Nimti Phaaakeyma, yudh rachaune kina? Mero manle mandayina, Krishna sansar dubauna kina? Duniyalai kasth, dukh diyara garib ko ragat choosera Jansamuhlai masera mauz urauna kina?” Mahabharat In 1934-37 he wrote from the Mahabharat „Aadiparva‟, „Sabhaparva‟, „Viraat parrva‟, „Udyog parva‟in Nepali. 4) Buddha Baani by Master Mitrasen Thapa This book was published in 1996 by the Mitrasen Sahitya Sangeet Sabha, Bhagsu, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India with foreword by His Holiness.

( by Jyoti Thapa Mani)

103rd Foundation Day of the First Gorkha Library in India

9:25 AM
 Gorkhas and Library: A Centurial Conspectus

Writes: Animesh Rai*

Heartiest Congratulations to all on the 103rd Foundation Day of the Gorkha Library, Kurseong. The first Gorkha library in India was started at Kurseong on 8th June 1913. If we look into the history of this library, hundred years ago, a Lepcha named Jombey Paval had founded it with the help of his friends. Paval was originally from Kalimpong and worked at Kurseong hospital. The library was started in his rented house.

Initially the colonial administration suspected the formation of the Gorkha library, as the Bengalis had started an underground group like Anisulan Samity to challenge the colonial administration. Pandit Tulsi Bhattarai, the former member of the Gorkha Library Executive Committee said “the then founders of the library convinced the administration by stressing on the need of a reading place for the Gorkhas, who were mostly poor and illiterate”. Pandit Bhattarai claims that during the mid 1980’s, he was also an activist for Gorkhaland and had stopped Jyoti Basu, the then Chief minister of Bengal from entering the hills.

The idea of having a Gorkha library was earlier raised by Pratiman Singh Lama. He was highly influenced by the reading and discussing habits of Europeans at Darjeeling Planter’s Association. Lama was further inspired by the feeling which can be theoretically equated as ‘Public Sphere’. According to the German sociologists, Jurgen Habermas ‘Public Sphere’ is a platform where people can discuss anything freely without any pressure or threat of any kind.

According to Chalmers (2009:127), P.S. Lama often argued that on having a public sphere like the British system of library and rational discussions, “we can reap all and what honours we could achieve”. The aspirations and demands of the people for the foundation of the Gorkha library led Parasmani Pradhan to form Nepali Sahitya Samaj. Through this group he tried to unite the writers for the creation of an organised civil society.

In 1915, philanthropist Sardar Bahadur Lama donated Rs. 500 for the construction of the library building and the construction was further funded by the Kurseong Municipality. The local papers like Chandrika which was edited by Parasmani Pradhan started to print fund raising notes for the construction of the library.

Finally, the present Gorkha Library at Kurseong was completed at the cost of over Rs. 3,000 and started to operate from 1918. In the inauguration ceremony of the library, Sir H. Quinton, the British Civil Servant was invited as the chief guest. He was welcomed with songs and dances performed by the artists of the Gorkha Amateur Club. In a way of highlighting the local homogeneity and harmony, the chief guest was offered a flower garland by a Nepali and a silk scarf by a Bhutia, who were dressed in their traditional attires. The integrity of the hill community can clearly be revealed by surfing into the foundational tales of this Gorkha library which was institutionalised collectively by Lepchas, Bhutias and the Nepalis. The present Vice-Chancellor of Sikkim University, Prof. T.B. Subba argues that when the Hill Men’s Social Union was formed in 1930’s then the Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalis had collectively consented to call themselves as Gorkhas and accepted Nepali their language. The Union had also started a monthly magazine called the “Nebula” derived from the abbreviation of Nepali, Bhutia and Lepcha.

Almost after one hundred years, the social fabric of the local Gorkha community is breaking up across the political lines and lust for reservation, representation, tribal development boards among others. Our society is in a need of re-organisation and rejuvenation, politics of opportunitism and favouritism based on kin and kith relations has damaged the traditional social homogeneity. Amidst such moments of despair and disrepair, Mr. Bipal Barailey, 21year old school dropout, resident of Munsong tea estate, 21 kms away from Kalimpong has opened a library in his village. The library is being run in one of his rooms with few books and chairs. The era has come to retest the Gorkhas in the scales of communal unity and harmony. There seems to be a need for more Paval’s, friends and like-minded people who can come forward and help in the establishment of this library through any ways or means. The rejuvenation of the century old love for libraries for social empowerment must be accepted and assisted as a new hope for the creation of a better society.

Nabu, a GJM student wing Central Committee member from Kalimpong wants to appeal all the members of the civil society to kindly help the library by donating old books. He claims that this is an apolitical affair and everybody should unify irrespective of political backgrounds. Amid such moments of century old historical coincidences, in another case all the political parties of the region has been called by the district administration in a dialogue for the creation of Kalimpong district. Let us hope that the present political parties too can come over their differences and work together not just for Kalimpong alone but for the creation of Gorkhaland as well.

In a way of concluding, let us recollect the words of Prof. Mahendra P. Lama, the former Vice-Chancellor of Sikkim University. He used to say “Grandpa and Grandma passed away. We did not record their knowledge. As a result, they took away the precious libraries with them. Let us learn to archive things by recording and let us not repeat our mistakes”.

Libraries are after all depositories of many things like knowledge and wisdom, history and identity and many more. Let us all come together and not regret later in willingly watering the library planted by Mr. Barailey.

*Animesh Rai is a research student in the Department of Sociology, Sikkim University.

Ganju Lama VC ADC to the President of India for Life

7:24 PM
Ganju Lama was born in Sangmo, southern Sikkim, India, on 22 July 1924. He enlisted in British Gurkha Army in 1942 at the age of seventeen. His parents were both of Sikkimese Bhutia descent and lived in Sikkim, which made him unusual, as he was neither an ethnic Gurkha nor a Nepalese subject. At that time, however, Gurkha regiments were prepared to accept any recruit who closely resembled the Gurkha and lived near the border of Nepal. Ganju Lama's tribe lived in the kingdom of Sikkim. His name was Gyamtso Shangderpa, but a clerk in the recruiting office wrote it down as Ganju, and the name stuck. After leaving the regimental centre in 1943, he joined the 1st Battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles, near Imphal, India.

Ganju Lama was nineteen years old, and a rifleman in the 1st Battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles, in the Indian Army during World War II when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross:

On 12 June 1944, near Ningthoukhong, India , 'B' Company was attempting to stem the enemy's advance when it came under heavy machine-gun and tank machine-gun fire. Rifleman Ganju Lama, with complete disregard for his own safety, took his PIAT gun and, crawling forward, succeeded in bringing the gun into action within 30 yards of the enemy tanks, knocking out two of them. Despite a broken wrist and two other serious wounds to his right and left hands he then moved forward and engaged the tank crew who were trying to escape. Not until he had accounted for all of them did he consent to leave to his wounds dressed.
To the left Ganju Lama and to the right Two tanks destroyed by Rifleman Ganju Lama, 1st Battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles, Ningthoukong, 12 June 1944.
To the left Ganju Lama and to the right Two tanks destroyed by Rifleman Ganju Lama,
1st Battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles, Ningthoukong, 12 June 1944.
A month earlier, during operations on the Tiddim Road, Ganju Lama's regiment had surprised a party of Japanese and killed several of them. He was awarded the Military Medal for his part in the action. Strangely though, this award was actually announced in the London Gazette after his Victoria Cross, appearing on 3 October 1944, almost a month later.

Subsequently India got independence. The man from 7 GR who opted to stay back, formed part of 11 GR (Kirati Regiment) which was raised on 01 Jan 1948. The legendary Ganju Lama opted to stay back and joined 11 GR. In 11 GR he rose to the highest rank of Sub Major and was given the honorary rank of Capt and was appointed life time aide-de-camp(ADC) to the President of India. In 1972, he hung up his uniform.He was declared a very important person or VIP for life and was allowed to fly a personal flag on his car with the letters "VC".


Is this why Gorkhaland is not being granted?

9:05 AM
Writes: Jyoti Thapa Mani*

Gorkhaland is a huge question mark shaped cloud in the sky. The region never belonged to West Bengal. Yes. The demand for the Gorkha people’s recognition in the Darjeeling Hills is more than 100 years. Yes. The Nepali-speaking Indians need their distinct ethnic identity is India. Yes. So where is the problem? Why is the Government of India still pussyfooting over the issue? Bharat Rakshak, the official website of the Indian Army provided an interesting insight to the fears of the Indian Army drawing parallels between Khalistan and Gorkhaland movement. Jyoti Thapa Mani essays where the comparison on Sikhs and Gorkhas begins and ends.

Text begins:…/237-historical-overview.html
‘Today India is at the crossroads. In some spheres, we have creditable progress, but in many others there has been alarming deterioration and are facing mounting crisis. Divisive and secessionist forces have been increasingly asserting themselves. Various contradictions in our society not only persist but have accentuated. The Army cannot remain totally isolated from these developments. The Sikh problem had its repercussions in the mutiny of some Sikh soldiers. The Gorkhaland problem may have ramifications amongst the Gorkha soldiers, if proper care is not taken. The Sikhs and the Gorkhas have been our finest soldiers and their record of loyalty and gallantry should not be allowed to get tarnished.’

The above extract indicates that the Army is clearly concerned about protecting its highly reliable Gorkha soldiers from political influences. Now why would they have reason to worry unless history has indicated so? Years ago, British India acclaimed the Sikhs and Gorkhas as the two martial races in its vast multi-ethnic Indian army. Side by side the two fought major battles earning an almost equal number of Victoria Crosses. Let us look at their commonalities and differences.

Originating from the undivided pre-partition Punjab, the Sikhs were formed as the followers of the Sikh religion founded by Guru Nanak (1469-1538). They were roaming rival misls or tribal groups of which the renowned Maharaja Ranjeet Singh (1780-1839) belonged to the Sukercharia clan. Under him the Sikhs were bound as a powerful Confederacy of Punjab with boundaries touching the Khyber Pass and enclosing Kashmir, Ladakh and Peshawar.

Similarly, in the Himalayan region, the Gorkhas consisted of various tribal clans gathered by the conquests begun by Prithvi Narayan Shah (1730-1775), the ambitious warrior king of a small hill kingdom called Gorkha. Subsequently, his descendants formed the dynasty of the House of Gorkha under which evolved the Gorkha/Nepalese Confederacy of Nepal. Their army called the Gorkha Sena led fierce campaigns, which extended Nepal’s boundaries till the rivers Sutlej in the west and Teesta in the east. While Punjab became the most powerful empire in the northern plains and foothills, Nepal was the most powerful Himalayan kingdom. The Khalsa Sikhs and the Gorkha warriors were the most inimitable armies of their time forming military protectorate rules at remotest of places.

The battle cry of the Sikhs is ‘Bole Jo Sonihal, Sat Sri Akal’ and their traditional weapon is called the Kirpan. The battle cry of the Gorkhas is ‘Jai Mahakaali, Ayo Gorkhali’ and their traditional curved knife is called the Khukri. During this era, the growth of such armies bound by their religious oaths developed to counter result of series of invasions from the North-Western Islamic Provinces.

The association of the Sikhs and Gorkhas
In the early 1800s, the paths of the Sikhs and Gorkhas first clashed at Kangra (in today’s Himachal Pradesh) where they both had interests in acquiring the Kangra fort. The Sikhs won the round and the two settled to a pact of peace on either side of the Sutlej River as neighbours. Circa 1814, when the war clouds with the East India Company loomed on the horizon, the Gorkhas sought coalition with the Sikhs to face the impending battles. Gorkha Commander Bada Kazi Amar Singh Thapa believed that together they could rout out the British from North India. But secure under the 1809 Treaty with the British, Maharaja Ranjeet Singh declined to accept the Gorkha appeal. With no strong allies, the Gorkhas fought the Company’s forces with admirable spirit but finally had to bow down to signing the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli, by which they to cede 1/3rd of its territory comprising of today’s Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Southern Sikkim and tracts of the Tarai region. Despite the losses, Nepal retained her monarchical independence and never came under British colonial rule. Punjab did not share the same fortune.
Is this why Gorkhaland is not being granted?
The association of the Sikhs and Gorkhas
Soon after Maharaja Ranjeet Singh’s demise in 1839, the Company’s forces attacked the bastions of the crumbling Sikh stronghold. The Sikhs lost their empire, the Kohinoor Diamond and crown prince Duleep Singh was also taken away to England. Both the British-Gurkha Battalions (called the Nusseeree Battalions) and two Sikh Battalions were raised before their respective wars were concluded. Thus began their service with the Company’s forces.

1857-the test of duty for Sikhs and Gorkhas
The 1857 Sepoy Mutiny was then attributed to Muslim rulers trying to reassert their weakening powers and the Marathas Hindu rulers seeking to regain theirs, leading to an united front against the British. The Sikhs and Gorkhas had no connection to these factors so were neutral to the causes of the mutiny. Overrun by rioting, looting, arson and violence; the need of the day was to first bring about law and order where the Gorkha and Sikh Battalions played major roles. However, in a stray incident, a battalion of the First Gorkha Rifles then called had also rebelled in 1857 from their headquarters at Jutogh near Shimla. This mutiny was quickly quelled at Kasauli. The British kept moving the Gorkha centres to faraway places where they would be away from political influences.
The Sikhs also had a personal agenda in the mutiny. Erstwhile Mughal emperors such as Aurangzeb, Shah Zahan and Muhammed Bin Tuqhlaq to name a few, had been hard-core radicals bent upon oppressing minority religious groups such as the Sikhs. Several Sikh Gurus had been killed in the process. The 9th Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded in 1675 under the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb at Gurdwara Sis-Ganj at Chandni Chowk, Delhi for refusing to convert to Islam. The Mutiny ended with banishment of the Mughal Emperor at Delhi, Bahadur Shah Zafar to Rangoon in Burma after found guilty of orchestrating the revolt. The Mughal rule of Hindustan sank away and India changed hands to the direct rule of the British Empire with headquarters moved from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911. Post 1857, the Sikh leaders had begun actively looking at their identity. The 1920s saw the rise of the Akali or Gurdwara Reform Movement and the introduction of the Sikh Gurdwara Bill, which placed all historical Indian Sikh shrines under the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

The INA battles- Cause vs Commitment for the Gorkhas and Sikhs:
By the 1940s the Indian Struggle for freedom was at this zenith. The Indian National Army (Azaad Hind Fauz)-a military alliance with the Japanese was established in 1942 to form an armed struggle against British rule in South-east Asia. The arenas of the then raging World War II provided opportunities for INA allies to influence the Prisoners Of War of the British Indian Army. It was a big shock when the entire 2/1 Gorkha Rifles captured on January 1942 in Malaya signed up with the INA. Most of them were Nepal-born. Two India-born Gorkhas, Durga Mall and Dal Bahadur Thapa were commissioned in the INA as Major and Captain. Later, captured by their parent Indian British Army, they were deemed ‘deserters’ and hung to death for treason in Delhi. Ex 2\1 GR’s Band-major Ram Singh Thakuri became INA’s bandmaster composing all the stirring Kaumi-Taraanas (patriotic songs). In terms of statistics, the major martial races who joined the INA were northerners the Pathans, Dogras, Baluchis and the Sikhs. Prominent leaders of the INA movement were Punjabis such as Giani Pritam Singh Dhillon, Prem Sahgal, Mohan Singh, Gurbaksh Singh Dhilllon and Shah Nawaz Khan. Of the INA Gorkha soldiers, three are still alive and living in Dharamshala, HP. They are Hoshiar Singh Thapa, Babbar Singh Burathoki and Charan Singh Thapa.

Gorkha civilian freedom fighters in the east
As of now, the Northern and eastern Gorkhalis are still trying to trace and gather names of their freedom fighters. The ones who have emerged on record so far are Sabitri Devi (Helen Lepcha), Gaga Tshering Dukpa, Dal Bahadur Giri, Mahabir Giri, Babu Damber Singh Gurung, Chabilal Upadhyaya, Bishnulal Upadhayay, Indreni Thapa, Dalbir Singh Lohar, Bhakta Bahadur Pradhan, Jungbir Sapkota, Krishna Bahadur Mukhia and Pushpa Kumar Ghising from Darjeeling Hills. Way back in 1891, Subedar Niranjan Chhetri from Manipur was hanged by the British as he led the Manipur king Tekendrajit Singh’s contingent of Nepali bodyguards.

The socio-economic settlement of the Gorkhas and political displacement of the Sikhs:
The Gorkhas and Sikhs are God-fearing, fearless, and hard working races whose traditional occupations are as farmers or soldiers. On a macro-scale, they are also known as Punjabis and Nepalis. The 19th-20th century saw major migration patterns emerging. The British colonies required rapid infrastructure building whether in India, Africa or the plantations of Malaya. Everyone was moving. Tamils and Gujeratis moved to Africa to build railroads. The western Nepalis moved into the ever-growing Gurkha army, and the easterners towards the Northeast to tea plantations, road constructions and mining. The concentration of Gorkha people developed around these occupational points. While the Gorkha movement was a natural socio-economic one, the Sikhs, Punjabi Hindus and Bengalis faced one of the worst political exodus in Indian history. In 1947, the Sikhs homesteads from Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Peshawar and allover the northwest was granted to Pakistan. They were now foreigners where what was once the citadel of their glorious empire. The border became the dreaded word for all.

New State for the Sikhs 
1947 was a very dark period for the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims as they moved in and out of India and Pakistan. It was a religious division where people lost their homes, belongings and families with anguish leading to severe violence, sorrow, anger and frustrations. During this time, the British-Gurkha soldiers stood guard to help the refugees, provide escort to safety and curb violence. Many refugees who survived and arrived safe still remember with gratitude the role of the Gurkhas. The process of creating a separate state for Muslims had began way back in 1889, the details of which will make this essay too lengthy, but resulted in the Muslim majority in Punjab given separate electorates and reservation of seats compared to none for the minority Sikhs. Baba Kharak Singh in 1929 publicly opined that no single community should be granted political hegemony in Punjab. In 1940, the Sikhs received a jolt when Mohammed Ali Jinnah called for a separate state for Muslims to be called Pakistan, carved out of Punjab. In August 1944 Master Tara Singh declared that the Sikhs were a nation. Two years later, the Shiromani Akali Dal passed a resolution for the creation of a separate Sikh state. In 1947, The Sikhs opted for India and the period saw years of losses and rehabilitation programmes. Bhutan and Nepal were declared independent states by the British and thus remained unaffected by the partition of the British India Empire. The partition saga continued till 1971 with the secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan.

The 1960s demand by the Sikhs for a state based on their lingua franca unfortunately led to fresh communal frays as Hindus were targeted to be ousted from Punjab. Finally, the Punjab region was divided along the present area of Punjab for the Sikhs, and for the Hindu majority the states of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and part of Rajasthan were segregated. Based on claims of Sikh discrimination and marginalization by the Congress party, Sikh politics began to get active again in the 1970s. The background to this was the Khalistan movement, which sought to create a separate country called Khalistan from within India. By the 1980s, the movement had become a militant one calling for counter-insurgency operations from the Indian Security Services. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared Emergency rule against a backdrop of escalating violence with prominent Sikh leaders such as Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale on the field. Finally, she had to call for Operation Blue Star, an armed attack on Amritsar. In June 1984, it was an ironical day when a Sikh General Kuldip Singh Brar led the Indian Army into the Golden Temple to flush out militants who were based inside. Sacred structures such as the Akhal Takht were damaged; innocent lives were lost but Bhindranwale and his men finally annihilated. The operation received worldwide criticism and hurt the sentiments of the Sikhs. Mutiny is the nightmare of any Army, and it happened. Revolts struck in the Sikh Regiments. Brigadier General R.S. Puri, the Commander of the Sikh Regimental Centre at Ramgarh, Bihar was killed by his angry troops. Two senior officers and some soldiers were also killed in the firing. There were also incidents of hijacking of buses and trucks. Another rebellion took place at Pune, where firing from Sikh soldiers in military vehicles resulted in the death of one person. About 5,000 Sikh soldiers are said to have rebelled.
In a stern reprimand, the then Chief of Staff of the Indian Army, General A.S. Vaidya said “Those who acted in a mutinous manner will be dealt with severely under the laws as enacted for the army”. He also stressed that “It was a matter of shame that some of you forgot the oath of allegiance you took to this country of ours and chose to get instigated by the enemies of the land, both internal and collectively did an act of disloyalty”.

1984-The Assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi
On the 31 October 1984, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated. To the horror of everyone the deed was committed at her residence by two of her faithful Sikh bodyguards called Satwant Singh and Beant Singh. Shock turned to anger towards the Sikh community and over the following four days, thousands of Sikhs were killed as arson, violence and looting erupted on the streets of Delhi and outside. The issue simmered with Sikhs demanding justice for the victims of the anti-Sikh riots and the progress of Punjab.

The Demand for Gorkhaland State-Darjeeling unrest
The Nepali-speaking population in India had issues of their own. They desired ethno-linguistic rights and official recognition as Indians. Way back in 1907, during the British rule, the people of Darjeeling had demanded a separate administrative unit. In 1917, the Hillmans’ Association of Darjeeling submitted a memorandum (the first of many unheeded ones) to the governing bodies centred in Calcutta for a separate administrative unit for Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts. In 1947, memorandum was submitted to the Constituent assembly of India’s interim government demanding Gorkhasthan. The series of memorandums continued to successive Indian Prime Ministers demanding separation from Bengal. Post 1947, Prime Minister Morarji Desai considered of the Gorkhali people as ‘foreigners from Nepal’ reflecting undeserving ignorance and dismissal. The selfish attitude of the politicians hurt the sentiments of the Gorkhali people who decided to continue their fight for recognition nevertheless. By 1988, the issue gained momentum to blast into a violent agitation demanding the state of Gorkhaland. In 2007, a semi-autonomous body called the Darjeeling Hill Council was granted for certain areas in the Darjeeling district. In 2011, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration also a semi-autonomous body was granted replacing the DGHC, but no statehood.

On April 7, 2014, the Bhartiya Janata Party mentioned in its manifesto that the party will “sympathetically examine and appropriately consider the long-pending demands of the Gorkhas”. However, the uploaded version on their website does not mention this. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha Party has been always on the job of reminding the BJP this promise, which seems to do the disappearing act now and then. The promise of delivering Gorkhaland was never inked and has remained a matter of verbal assurance now almost becoming hearsay. To address the issue point-blank does the Government of India fear another Khalistan in the Darjeeling Hills? Will the loyalty of Gorkha troops remain unaffected as long as there is no state of identity granted especially in the delicate Chicken’s neck corridor of India?

Different nerve points for Gorkhas and Sikhs
The Sikhs are extremely sensitive to their religion. It is believed that what upset Satwant Singh and Beant Singh and the Sikh Mutiny was the attack on the Sikh holy shrine of the Akal Takht under the orders of Mrs Gandhi. The Sikhs also said that they were hurt by the alleged reports of innocent women and children killed in the operation. The Sikh sensitivity is a result of his history. The Gorkha history is different. What hurts Indian Gorkhas most is to be considered as ‘foreigners’, when as a race they have shed their blood for India time and again? The Gorkha issue is about being recognised in his homeland India. This is where their similarity with the Sikhs ends and therein, rests the answer to the fears of the army.

*Ms. Jyoti Thapa Mani is the author of Illustrated History of the 1st Gorkha Rifles (1815-2008), and The Khukri Braves.

Via TheDC
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