Showing posts with label Gorkhas in India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gorkhas in India. Show all posts

Shakti Gurung favours "control" on the Indo-Nepal border

11:59 AM
Darjeeling: Lt General (retd) Shakti Gurung, who is heading the National Gorkhaland Committee (NGC), an apolitical think tank looking into issues of the Gorkha community, said on Sunday that they were in favour of some "control" and "regulation" on the Indo-Nepal border.

Gurung's comment comes at a time an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) appointed by the governments of Nepal and India are reviewing the India-Nepal Friendship Treaty 1950 that has provisions for free movement of India and Nepal citizens into each others territory.

Shakti Gurung NGC
Shakti Gurung (NGC)
 Asked about the NGC's stand on the open border, Gurung, said: "There is a general feeling among Indian Gorkhas that we get questioned because the borders are open. There are some reasons why the country (India) has kept the border open, we share similar culture, traditions, Nepal is a friendly neighbour, but we believe that the treaty should be reviewed in light of the identity (of Indian Gorkhas)."

The EPG was formed in 2016 and its mandate runs till June this year. EPG members from Nepal include former foreign minister, Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, former lawmaker Rajan Bhattarai and constitutional and legal experts Nilambar Acharya and Surya Nath Upadhyay.

The demand for the scrapping of Article VII of the treaty was first raised by GNLF leader Subash Ghisingh when he led the statehood agitation in 1986. The GNLF had wanted the clause to be scrapped as it felt the rights given to the citizens of Nepal - a country contiguous to Darjeeling - under this treaty were blurring the distinction between Nepalese citizen and Indian Gorkhas who speak the same language.

Gurung said on Sunday: "There should be some kind of control, regulation (at the border). This is a general feeling, talk to any Gorkha community member in India, whether from here or Uttarkhand, they all feel that an open border raises questions on their (Indian) identity."

The NGC clarified that none of its members would be encouraged to contest elections.

"We will also form regional committees but we will only take those people who are not attached with political parties," said Gurung.

Via Telegraph

where is my Home?

8:45 AM
Writes:  Binayak Sundas

There are those Nepalis in India who are from Nepal and hold Nepali citizenship and then there are others who live in India and hold Indian citizenship

In the last few decades there has been a steady rise in literature on experiences of people visiting those parts of their socio-cultural spaces separated by partition. Hence people discover that the land that they grew up thinking as the quintessential other and enemy was not after all so different. The people, that they always thought of as the evil incarnate could have easily been neighbors, friends or even family. Such is the complicated history of the subcontinent and the problems of the concept of the nation-state in the region.

A person from Kolkata may find that he has far more in common with someone from across the border in Dhaka than he has with someone from his own state in Darjeeling. Similarly, a person from Lahore may find that Amritsar is far closer to home than Quetta or Karachi. These dilemmas and complexities have led to a plethora of beautiful, yet melancholic stories that have captured the imaginations of readers and caused them to rethink certain aspects of nature of nationalism and renewed connections across the border.

The partition of Punjab and Bengal in 1947, a tragic event of Himalayan proportions, and its aftermath are very difficult to be compared with anywhere else. It was an incident that was a product of specific historical events that were unique to the region and yet one cannot help, but wonder if similar literature is possible to be written between Indian Nepalis and Nepal’s Nepalis.

I have over the years of my research come across many academic literatures that have tried to clearly make the difference of Indian Nepali from those in Nepal. They have suggested the use of terms such as Nepa-mulya and Bharatiya Nepali, but nothing seems to have quite captured the imagination of Indian Nepalis, as that of the “Gorkha” since nothing speaks of pride like a colonial imaginary construct, used to garner cheap military labor. The two kinds of Nepalis in India are those who are from Nepal but are in India to work and earn their livelihoods and hold Nepali citizenship and the other who have lived in India and hold Indian citizenship.

The common perception is that the accents in their Nepali are the main marker of difference. This is, of course, a mistake since Nepal does not have a unified accent, neither do Indian Nepalis.

During my stay in Delhi, I had the privilege of making a lot of friends from Nepal, the picture that they painted of Nepal and its socio-economic dynamics seemed to be very different from the one that I remembered from the tales of my mother or my brief visits to Dharan and more importantly from the socio cultural and economic scenario in Darjeeling, the hub of Indian Nepalis. The language too seemed different; Bahuns, Ranas and Shah friends spoke a form of Nepali, that they claimed was the equivalent of King’s English. They were mortified when they heard me speak in Nepali, some were out rightly offended, some laughed and one friend said I spoke like a Taba Keta (drug addict) from Thamel.

Tracing the root

On my father’s side, my family was from Dolakha. Once, as my grandfather narrated the story to me, one of my ancestors, a Damai, accidentally touched a Brahmin bride on her wedding day, which caused her to lose her caste and the marriage was called off. By the evening the entire village was gathering for traditional Jhar Katnu (hacking him to death). How else would the groom’s and bride’s family regain lost honor and the rest of the village salvage the entertainment denied to them?

Maybe someone informed them, my family left the village with whatever little belongings they had before the mob arrived.  Realizing that they could never go back home they made their way to the only refuge for the wretched of Nepal: Darjeeling, along with the Brahmin bride. This was a hundred years ago, during the same period the ancestors on my mother’s side were facing a different dilemma.

After the Gorkha state’s victory in Limbuwan hills, the state’s appropriating class were vigorously taking over Kipat (communal land holding) lands of Limbus and converting them to Jagirs (land grants given in lieu of salary). The Limbus rose in rebellion several times but failed. The only two way left for Limbus were: accept the Gorkha rule, new land revenue structure and a debt trapped life or leave the region altogether. My ancestors made way to Munglan (India) in search of the promised life.

The British at that point of time were perpetually caught in one conflict after other both in the western and eastern frontiers and were expanding Gurkha regiments to include the Rai and Limbus as well. This was a departure from the earlier policy of only hiring Magars, Gurungs, Thakuris and Khas. In the Gurkha regiment my ancestor was introduced to the brilliance of the martial race theory and how it manages to gain cheap military labor and can repeat it over generations. My family has served the British and Indian armies for the next hundred years.

I made my way across the River Mechi, but graves of my grandparents were on the other side of the border. I paid a visit to my great aunt and uncle’s graves on Nepal’s side of the Mechi River. Buried on the border, was perhaps a fitting metaphor for what I was to discover in the coming days. On a lighter note, it was a bit ironic that they were buried next to each other. In life they could never stop bickering.

Journey to Nepal

A few brief anxious moments circling Kathmandu and then we landed. My first steps in the city that I had read and written about but never visited. I looked around and saw what the Malla rulers must have seen, large hills surrounding the valley, like massive walls that could never be breached. A fortress that had stood the test of time, of course until Prithvinarayan Shah came. Prithvinarayan too saw the hills and he too realized they were walls, except they were not the walls of a fortress but that of a prison.

He imprisoned the Mallas within the valley until they did not even put up an effective fight, choosing to rely on faith than in a final battle as the Gorkha army walked into the city.  My introductions to the city were the taxi drivers and they were exactly like the ones back home. Their Nepali was exactly like mine, perhaps a bit more polite, which made me wonder where were those who spoke in “King’s Nepali.” I never had a problem with the language while my stay there. The only problem though was that the people in Katmandu and even in Pokhara for that matter spoke too softly and I realized that I must have sounded like I was screaming half the time.

The driver started to complain about administration and corruption. I felt at home again. The night of course belonged to Thamel, I had heard a lot about this place, but nothing prepared me for what I experienced. The Sarangi players made me realize how amateurish the ones in Darjeeling and Sikkim are. The people, the shops, the bars, they could trap anyone here for a long time. I walked around aimlessly until late at night and I made my way back reluctantly to my hotel.

The next day I made my way to the old city and this place felt alien. Don’t get me wrong I loved the place, the culture, the architecture and the people but none of it seemed familiar to me. It was beautiful but foreign to me, the Newari accent seemed curious and it was not one I had heard before, well at least in real life. The Newars in Darjeeling and Sikkim have long given up the language and no hint of this accent remains in their Nepali. The smell and the sight of this place seemed odd. I wondered if the first soldiers of the Gorkha army felt this unease and strangeness of this place.

Perhaps the strangeness of this place was what caused Prithvinarayan to lament about the simple life of home, where people drink from streams than this valley where water comes in cisterns. As I placed my hand on the old walls with the sun uncomfortably on my back, history was alive for me. The debates over socio-economic structures, class relations, the impact of new ruling class, modes of production etc were all forgotten and a different kind of history took its place—the one that had the thrill of living through it, of extending your hand through time to capture a moment gone by, a history of emotions so to speak.

I did not go to any of the palaces though. I watched all of them from across the road. A hundred years ago I would have been flogged for just being this near the royal palaces or any other palaces. I have been inside palaces elsewhere of course, but somehow the resentment here seemed very personal, anger with these Rajput status claiming rulers went back far too long back in history, I doubt if anyone else could even understand it.

The structures as magnificent as they were, just did not impress me, every brick of these palaces was wet with the tears of some indebted peasant who was forced to sell his children to pay the Sarkar and Sahukar. As I blew my smoke towards the palace I smiled to think of the fact that they no longer lived there, at last they would know the pain of leaving their homes behind. All that money, all that eulogies and all that false status, and son had killed fathers and brothers had killed brothers, in the end just dust in the vast expanse of history, like the rest of us.

My mother had lived in Pokhara for two years in her youth, back then when teachers from Darjeeling were in demand in Nepal. A visit to this town was mandatory, but nothing about this place seemed like the stories I had heard. As mesmerizing as the lakeside was it was easily eclipsed by the next place I visited, Mustang. You could write several books about this place and still could not do justice to this desolate beauty.

My mind could not help, but think of all the Newari traders and Tibetan scholars who might have passed through this place or places like this, what they must seem what fears they had and how this place looked to them. My heart also could not but think of all the soldiers of the Gorkha army as they first crossed to invade Tibet and how frostbitten defeated they retreated with the great Chinese general Fu’ Kwan hot on their heels, on his way to invade the Gorkha empire.

Muktinath temple deserves an article by itself, a great remnant of the syncretic traditions of the Himalayan region, perhaps a remnant of the Khas Empire itself. The place perfect for worship, it reminded me so much of the Mahakal Mandir in Darjeeling, thought it also made me lament thinking of the commercialization of the temple at home.

We are all Nepalis

In most places I was asked of my caste, though I don’t think it was so much of the apprehensions but mostly due to curiosity, my Limbu and Damai heritage has given an interesting face. The fun part was when I told them I was Damai, one shopkeeper laughed and when he realized I was serious he quickly diverted the topic, a security guard turned all shades of yellow and some went on  long monologues how caste didn’t matter in modern Nepal, which sort of proved to me that it did.

The one thing I realized was Darjeeling accent was not a unique accent and it was a mere extension of the eastern accent of Nepal with a bit of Janjati and a perhaps a little bit of Madhesi accent. We were not different at all. We are all a part of a larger socio cultural space. We are all Nepalis. As I made my way back across the border leaving behind a place where everyone spoke in my language, into a place where people spoke languages that I did not speak, I wondered where home was.

The author is a PhD researcher at Centre for Historical Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Via: My Republica
Author can be reached at:

How Indian Gorkhas came with their land

4:53 PM

In an attempt to put into perspective the history of Indian Ghorkhas for the benefit of all  of us  residing in various parts of India here is an excerpt adapted and abridged from Salil Gewali's article on Indian Ghorkhas which is as follows :-

It is quite apparent that West Bengal is steadily eyeing Darjeeling and its adjoining areas as it's private fiefdom.  It seems a bunch of good scholars are now urgently required to wise  up to history. The West Bengal government probably does not know about the fact that the Nepal Kingdom in 1815-16  under the Treaty of Sugauli was prudent enough to come to an agreement with the then rapaciously imperialist ‘East India Company’. So, “Nepal Kingdom’’,  in order to  avoid continuous unpleasant conflicts, surrendered about one-fourth of its land to the British.  This "surrendered land'' included the major chunk of the mountainous, hilly and plain terrains of areas like Darjeeling, Sikkim, Nainital, Kumaon, and Garhwal which was handed over to the East India Company. Rationally speaking, if all this vast area of land, its mountains, its pristine hills, rivers, flora and fauna can be regarded as Indian then why can’t the human inhabitants who lived therein ?? Why is there so much skepticism and callousness? Well, if our nation's leaders are still confused and desist from resolving the identity crises of the Ghorkha natives of this land then they should  meet and consult the bio-scientists and geoscientists. It's utterly regrettable to see Ghorkhas treated so poorly in their own land...

Hence The Gorkhas came with their land, not  like other invaders or infiltrators who have been posing serious threats to the NATION. Gorkhas are the stout walls of security and integrity for the country. It is time for The Indian government to pay back their dues and enough of it with gratitude. They can’t be expected to bite the bullet all the time under oppressive and exploitative regimes

Abridged  and adapted from an excerpt from the writer

Salil Gewali

(A Shillong-based writer and researcher who has to his credit a landmark publication of his research-based book of over 25 years entitled ‘Great minds on India?’ which has earned worldwide appreciations. Translated into eleven languages his ‘Great Minds on India’ has recently been prefaced by a world-acclaimed NASA Chief scientist – Dr. Kamlesh Lulla of Houston.

If this is Democracy?

7:06 AM

Writes Pramod Khadka

India the world's largest democracy,the country we live and the country where democracy prevails in which power ultimately comes from the people. The rights of the individuals are protected and respected as per the Constitution of India.
But when it comes to our state so called West Bengal these democratic rights of the same individual are butchered everyday.. West Bengal government has its history of exercising hegemony among its minority community( Gorkhas); who they terms as outsiders or separatists..
Darjeeling the town which is carrying the its legacy as the 'Queen of the Hills' with its utmost beauty and peaceful endeavour has always come as a pride for Bengal. But when it comes to the people residing there Bengal has always taken a discriminatory stand since ages be it any ruling party forcing the indigenous people to raise their voice for Identity,Dignity and the separation from Bengal but the words are still unheard,unjustified and unfulfilled.
Under Article 19,the backbone of the chapter on Fundamental Rights or Personal Liberty it has guaranteed basic freedom to all citizens:
1) Freedom of speech and expression
2)assemble peacefully and without arms
3)form associations or union.

But today the Life,Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness for a Gorkha community has been cremated with the malign human right abuse committed against the people(most notably women and senior citizens)by the police authorities who were organising a peaceful rally in Darjeeling today..

So Madam! I hereby challenge your notion of Democracy(or Dictatorship in disguise) .
*If your Democracy is about glorifying the inhuman acts against the older and weaker sections of society then I resist your Democracy.
*If your Democracy is about forcefully imposing an alien language to an indigenous community whose language has been officially recognised by the Indian Constitution then I resist such Democracy.
*If your Democracy is about practising Divisive Policy and dividing the community on the racial grounds then I resist such Democracy.
*If your Democracy talks about resorting forceful agents(CRPF,Police,Army) creating an Emergency like situation then I resist such Democracy.
*If your Democracy is about practising lawlessness and suppressing the minorities of your state then I resist such Democracy.
*If your notion of Democracy is aimed against the aspirations for a separate state then I resist such Democracy.

Madam! You should know the success of a democracy depends largely on the the extent to which the civil liberties are enjoyed by the citizens in general.. But our civil liberty has been suppressed,hampered and butchered everyday by you,your authorities and by your state..
So hereby I resist the Democracy which you talks about that doesn't falls under the Constitution and which you practice in Our Hills everyday. Political equality is for all but not for the Gorkhas.. If it would have been for us we wouldn't need to beg for it... So I resist You,Your Democratic vision and Your Democratic Development..

The Butterfly Effect

1:05 PM

//The Butterfly Effect// by Merab Wangchuk

The last time I verified my identity as an Indian Nepali was a month back while traveling back to my hometown. She was a sweet kid, somebody I'm never going to meet again but I hope I got my point across that I'm an Indian as much as she is.
As a resident of West Bengal and studying in Kolkata, I have always had to clarify myself on my physical structure.

" Are you Assamese?"
           -"No, no, I'm a Nepali!"
"Oh! From Nepal?"
           -" No, from Bengal. Darjeeling. Kalimpong, to be exact.."
"Aaah..Lovely place!"

Yes, to you it is a beautiful place. To my people its their lifeline, a land forged to what it is now with their blood, sweat and tears. British overseers lorded over our ancestors as they slaved away, laying foundations for the very same places you come to see, the very same places before where you take pictures and store it in albums as cherished memories, a cheap gateaway, a summer destination, a place where for a while you forget your daily hectic days and lose yourself to the blowing of cool winds, blue hills, orange sunsets and the sparkling mirror of Khangchendzonga.

No, I have nothing against you. Infact, we have always been welcoming and happy to have you here. But what bothers me are the hateful comments being spewed out in social media and news channels. So much of hatred and racism being spread about not only from other communities but from my community as well. Do you know how saddening that is? To see our stance degrading, to have to stoop so low.

History has it that this land had always been contested between the Chogyal of Sikkim, the kingdom of Bhutan, the kingdom of Nepal and the British East India Company. Wars have been fought for this land, treaties have been signed for this land, annexation is a word this land understands all too well. It all shows that we have existed here since long, saw it being destroyed and rebuilt, my people have lived their lives in oppression and poverty and still managed to build a home for themselves here.
So, why do we have to hear echoes of "GO BACK! GO BACK!"

And I ask you, "Where?"
You see, I've been asked to go back either to Nepal or to China but I know nothing of the two countries. What I call home is here. India. I have sung the National Anthem with as much pride as any other fellow countrymen, celebrated Independence Day with as much pomp and splendour as the rest of the country, I have believed in the Brotherhood of Men too strongly and fiercely and yet, sadly, as I walk the busy streets of a city I've called home for the past two years, along with the warm humid gust of wind, sprinkles of 'Chinese' , 'Momo', 'Ching Chong', 'Nepal challey jao' still follows my shadow.

However, I can't be despicable for there's always been somebody kind enough to give directions when I've gotten lost a few many times, friends so sweet and supportive, people who've made me believe in humanity again and again. So, tell me how can I detest an entire community? For you see, this is not a war between two communities, between ethnic groups, between the Nepalese and Bengalis, this is a war for an identity. The plea to be heard, to be given a place, a fight put up by a race of smothered people only asking to be recognized, to be able to live with heads held up high.

We have been branded foreigners, anti-nationals amd terrorists. We stand for peace but now, it seems a far thought. We know enough of tear gases, rubber bullets, gaping wounds and sacrifices. We are a race who have compromised enough so much so that the Teesta now lies dead and there is still no electricity in our homes.

I hope this ends now. I hope we stand in solidarity and unity, forsaking the so called concept of development boards, I hope we learn not to lean unto the so called leaders but learn to lean unto ourselves, unto each other. I hope we understand where our power lies.

Who isn't petrified of what is to come? There is an ominous foreboding in the air, maybe this will be our last effort, maybe if this fails, my people won't have the strength to rise gain but today, the wings are in motion now. Will we answer the call? Will we blow up a tornado or are we going to let it fizzle away from our grasp, yet again?

SC to hear PIL on bias against Gorkha community

11:04 AM

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court’s decision to introduce sensitization programme in schools to prevent racial stereotyping, prejudices and hatred against certain minority communities such as the Sikhs seems to have opened the floodgates for others to move court against similar victimisation.

The latest to join the bandwagon are the Gorkhas or the Nepalis. A petition airing their grievance against stereotyping of the valiant community as hair-brained, brainless people, who are no good at anything except standing at people’s doorsteps came up for hearing in the top court.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and Justice D Y Chandrachud, directed that this petition mentioned by a law student, also be listed with those filed by the Sikh community against the racial slurs and innuendoes contained in the much-loved Sardar jokes. The court had in that case expressed its inability to crack down en masse on all such jokes but had said that it would try and deal with the problem posed by commercialisation of such jokes on social media.

The court had asked the highest temporal body of the Sikhs, the SGPC, to come up with some sort of sensitization programme, which would work on students and youngsters to eliminate the prejudices inherent in such cultural stereotyping.

“Nepalis or Gorkhas are projected as witless and brainless people who are fit to stand only on others’ doorsteps. Such actions grossly violate the basic right of the Nepalis to live with self-respect and dignity. Racism and stereotyping against the Gorkha community wouldn’t stop without the intervention of the highest court in the nation,” the petition said.

Via ET


6:38 PM
The Gorkhas, last year, celebrated  two hundred years of their existence in India. The world- renowned  Gorkha Rifles or Gorkha Regiment  completed 200 years of existence in April 2015. They became the backbone of the British Indian forces  after having joined  British service in 1815.

Dehra  Dun or the Doon valley, as it is popularly known,  has several interesting  landmarks of  the  eventful Anglo-Gorkha Battle(known as the battle of Nalapani or Khalanga)  of  1814-15.The Khalanga Memorial   was built by the British on the banks of the Rispana river,which flows below the Khalanga Hill,  to  commemorate their  brave soldiers as well as the Gorkha gallants whom they defeated.The fort was made of wood, red sand and stones. The new memorial there commemorates the inspiring and indomitable courage of Balbhadra and his men.

The Khalanga Memorial, a nationally protected monument looked after by the Archaeological Survey of India, is located on the road which takes tourists to the Sulphur Springs of  Sahastradhara. It was in this Khalanga-Nalapani area of the valley that a fierce battle  between the British and the Gorkhas was fought as both of  them were  eager to expand their territories.
In 1804 the Doon valley came under the control of the Gorkhas.Raja Pradyuman Shah of Tehri was killed by them in the battle of Khurbura in Dehra Dun. Till the battle of Nalapani took place, the valley was under Gorkha rule. After the battle, the  British Government reinstated Sudarshan Shah on the throne of a truncated part of Garhwal.

On October 31, 1814  the third infantry division under Major General, Sir Robert Rollo Gillespie, with a large force, attacked the Khalanga –Nalapani fort defended by Balbhadra Singh Thapa and his soldiers barely 600 in number.The gallant General,who is said to have been among the bravest soldiers of the British army, fell to the bullets of the defenders.

Colonel Mawby succeeded to the command  and the attack was resumed on November 25 and the fort was shelled on November 27.The British also cut off the water supply to the fort. All this forced Balbhadra Singh to decide that the fort could no longer be held. On November30, he, along with 70 of his men, evacuated Khalanga. They  opened the gate, came out of the fort and ran towards a stream nearby. The British troop was surprised to see this. After they had quenched their thirst, the brave Balbhadra said to the Britishers: "Go and occupy the fort. We have deserted it". When the British troops entered the fort they found  nothing but corpses, some dying men and children crying out “Pani,Pani” in their thirst. The Nepalese troops went away, but did not surrender before the British troops.

A Mela is held in the last week of November every year in the area to commemorate the sacrifice made by the Gorkhas during the battle. Balbhadra Singh Thapa was killed by Afghan troops when he was later in the army of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh.

 The foundation of the fort, which was razed to the ground by the British, can be seen under the thick carpet of grass on the hill and also some huge black  boulders which were once part of the fort’s walls. The incredible silence tells the story of the exceptional courage of the Gorkha men ,women and children who refused to bow down before the massive British army.

 Downhill, the original memorial of the war which was built by the British is now an enclosed space with some signages put  up by the ASI. There are   twin obelisks which stand there - one is in memory of Major General Gillispie and his officers and men , and the  other, probably the only one of its kind in the world, was dedicated by the     British to the memory of the very men they defeated- Balbhadra and his Gorkhas.

People the world over would also like to know more about the  brave Gorkhas ,who with their Khukris  and their  battle cry of “Ayo Gorkhali”, faced the huge British force at Khalanga  with exceptional valour. Developing a  Gorkha Tourist Circuit in the Doon valley would indeed be a great idea to boost historical and cultural tourism.

Via dailypioneer
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