Understanding the demand for Gorkhaland : An introductory note

September 16, 2008

Open for comments

Voices for a separate state of Gorkhaland are once again echoing in the hills of Darjeeling and the surrounding areas. These developments are certainly disturbing for the uninformed Bengalis – they fail to understand why such a picturesque and otherwise “peaceful” place would like to secede from their province. They also feel sad at the thought of losing something so beautiful, something to be proud of. Sometimes, there is the knee-jerk reaction among some of them – a refusal to part with the region. With the state government and the mainstream media purposely continuing to feed on this ignorance and pride, it becomes important to put together a historical account of the developments in Darjeeling and thereby address questions regarding the right to self-determination of the people staying in this region. The hope is that such an introductory account of the evolving situation in Darjeeling would help the democratic-minded people to come to a rational decision.

Inclusion of Darjeeling within Bengal province

To begin the story of Darjeeling, one needs to go back to the Anglo-Nepal war of 1814-1816, in which the East India Company, with the help of the Sikkimese people, defeated the Gorkha kingdom of Nepal. At the time of war, Sikkim had been occupied by the Nepalese king. After their victory, the British returned the land of Sikkim to the Sikkemese Chogyal, with one of the conditions being that any territorial dispute between Nepal and Sikkim required the arbitration of the British and the Sikkimese king will have to abide by the decision of the British. It was during one such dispute that two officers of the East India Company spent some time at a hill station called Dorjeeling and were sufficiently impressed so as to consider it as a possible sanitarium. They urged the British government to acquire that tract. Negotiations began with the King of Sikkim and the tract was acquired by the East India Company in 1835. However, disputes continued with Sikkim regarding the terms of acquisition and, finally, using some other pretext, the British troops marched into Sikkim, were uncontested and thereafter claimed that all surrounding villages were part of British-held territory. The war with Bhutan in 1865 led to the acquisition of Kalimpong and territories to the East of Teesta. This is how the Darjeeling district, as we know it today, was formed.

With the introduction of tea-gardens, growth of trade with Nepal-Bhutan-Tibet and possible employment in the British army, people from the hills and the plains soon found their way to Darjeeling. Although different communities from the hills set up their homes here, the Gorkhas were the largest in number. Meanwhile, the British toyed with different administrative status for the region and finally, in 1935, Darjeeling was included within the province of Bengal.

Demand for self-rule

The emergence of an educated section among the local communities slowly gave birth to the articulation of the right to self-determination, viz., for the protection of the local language and cultural practices. In 1907, on behalf of the Bhutia, Lepcha, and Nepali communities of Darjeeling, a memorandum was placed before the British government requesting for a separate administrative unit for the region. Subsequently, in between 1917 and 1941, the Hill People’s Association made several such petitions to the British government . As noted by some historians, most of these petitions appealed to the goodwill of the British rulers to address the grievances of the Hill people – the British responses were not significant. It should also be mentioned, in this regard, that the local people were not happy at the decision of the British to include this region within the administrative domain of the British. In 1943, the All India Gorkha League (AIGL) was formed and it was also in the same year that the Darjeeling unit of the Communist Party of India was organised. Historical records show that during this period the AIGL started discussing with Congress leaders regarding the grievances of the Hill people of Darjeeling.

In April 1947, the Darjeeling district committee of the Communist Party of India submitted a memorandum to the Constituent Assembly. The memorandum stated that Darjeeling was the homeland of the Gorkhas and that the Gorkhas living in the combined territories of the district of Darjeeling, the state of Sikkim and the so-called independent state of Nepal, together constitute a distinct nation – they have the same language, the same culture and the same historical heredities since the days of Buddha and Ashoka. Giving numbers, the memorandum also stated that the people belonging to the Gorkha community constituted about 85% of the population in the combined territories. The memorandum also claimed that the British, after conquering India, had purposely divided the Gorkhas and in order to protect the interests of British imperialism, the socio-cultural development of the Gorkha community was being suppressed. Therefore, according to the memorandum, the interests of the Gorkha community must be protected during the formation of the new Indian constitution. The memorandum, finally, demanded the formation of the region of Gorkhastan by combing Darjeeling, southern Sikkim and Nepal and also stated that, according to the Communist Party of India, the Gorkha community in this region had the full democratic right to exercise their right to self-determination.

After independence of India, public meetings were held in Darjeeling to support the demands of autonomy and memorandums were also sent to the Central Government detailing the several attempts that have been taken earlier to seek a separate administrative setup for the district. With popular backing, evidently based on the question of autonomy, 4 MLA-s belonging to AIGL and 1 MLA of CPI were elected from Darjeeling to the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, in the first elections of 1952. From then on, demands of regional autonomy, in different forms and versions, cropped up in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly but no headway occurred. Some noises were also made in the Parliament. In 1973, AIGL and CPI(M) circulated a document entitled “Programme and Demand of Autonomy” which, as an expression of autonomy, demanded the formation of Autonomous District Council. In 1976, the government of Siddhartha Shankar Ray announced the formation of the Darjeeling Hill Areas Development Council – it was supposed to advise the state government regarding matters related to developmental work in the Hill areas.

Nothing changed after the Left Front government came to power in 1977. Soon, in 1980, fed up with the apparent deafness of the ruling parties, ithe Prantiya Parishad and Gorkha National Liberation Front, separately, demanded the formation of a separate state of Gorkhaland. The demand by GNLF captured the imagination of the local people and led by Subhas Ghisingh it became a very popular movement. In 1986, the movement turned militant in nature and clashes started in the region. According to the local people, around 1200 Gorkhas were killed during this period. After two years of violence, the Centre, the state government and GNLF agreed to form the DGHC, with Ghisingh announcing that the demand for Gorkhaland had been dropped. In the years following this agreement, Ghisingh has tried to appease both Centre and State and have been alliance with one or the other during the elections. Over time, complaints started to emerge regarding the corruption and nepotism in the activities of DGHC and it is fairly accurate to state that Ghisingh has, by now, lost his popularity among his own people. Also, both Centre and State did whatever they could to keep Ghisingh happy to extract political advantage during elections. It is even alleged that the state government had a sinister plan to corrupt Ghisingh to the point that he lost credibility among the people. Whatever be the designs, the Left parties belonging to Left Front has increasingly lost foothold in this regions – in fact, a faction broke away from CPI(M) to form CPRM in order to continue the struggle for a separate state. Things changed dramatically in 2007 due to two events, which are narrated below, and the call for Gorkhaland again found momentum.

Prasant Tamang, hailing from Darjeeling, qualified for the finals of the 2007 edition of “Indian Idol”, a popular television programme, which is supposed to unearth singing talents based on nationwide votes conducted through mobile text-messages. Competing against him was Amit Pal, a resident of Meghalaya but having ancestral roots in Siliguri (which is within the district of Darjeeling). The success of Prasant brought joy to the local hill communities and he received huge public receptions in Darjeeling, before the finals. On the other hand, some local politicians, including an influential minister in the Left Front government, urged the people of Siliguri and surrounding areas to vote for Amit, since he was after all a “local boy”. Clearly, for these politicians, Bengali chauvinism was more important; even the local mainstream media tried to garner support for Amit. Reports in the media claimed that, in Siliguri, banners proclaiming support for Amit, were seen in large numbers and also several local support groups popped up. It seemed that the local Bengali sentiments were in favour of the Bengali from Meghalaya rather than the Gorkha from West Bengal – so overarching are the feelings of Bengali nationalism. However, after the final round and the counting of votes, Prasant was crowned the new Indian idol. This became a matter of pride for the Gorkha community and his victory was celebrated with lot of fanfare. There were no such reports of celebrations, in general, in other parts of the state of West Bengal. Just after Prasant’s victory, on 26th September 2007, a Delhi-based DJ, during a radio programme, made a remark, allegedly as a joke – “If Nepalis become Indian Idols, who will guard our mohallas?” This remark had an immediate effect – on 26th September, there was a spontaneous bandh in the district of Darjeeling. On 28th September, a silent procession was taken out in Siliguri to protest against the remark. During the procession, clashes began between the Gorkhas and the local Bengalis and soon it spread across the town with several reports of violence against the Gorkha community. Within a few days, a new platform called the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha was launched with a fresh declaration for the formation of Gorkhaland. The incidents had definitely bruised the Gorkha sentiments and their dormant nationalism was awakened – the demand for a new state was the outcome. As a side remark to this incident, it would perhaps be worthwhile for the Bengali community to retrospect how people from the hills have been portrayed in the Bengali popular culture – whether there have been any attempts to characterise them in ways different from the usual stereotypes.

Meanwhile, another trouble had been brewing for quite some time. The last elections to the DGHC had been held in 1999 and the tenure of the council had ended in 2004. However, Ghisingh continued to postpone elections using one pretext or the another. The state government continued to appease him by granting him the status of care-taker administrator of the council till elections were held. In the meantime, Ghisingh announced that the status of the council can only be strengthened if DGHC is included within the Sixth Schedule, which is meant to protect and promote the socio-cultural and economic aspirations of tribals in the states of the Northeast. The central and the state government, bowing to Ghisingh’s demands, signed an acoord with him, in 2005, accepting that the next elections could only be held after the inclusion within the Sixth Schedule. As per the accord, a large number of seats (around one-third) in the new council would be reserved for representatives of the tribal communities. This infuriated a large section of the population in this region, since only 31% of the population is listed as tribal and the Gorkhas, who are actually the largest community in the hills, are not included in that list. The opposition (which included AIGL and CPRM) also alleged that the Centre and the state governments did not consult with anyone from this region, other than Ghisingh, before taking this decision. Worsening the situation was the fact that only in 2005, the Tamang community, to which Ghisingh belonged, had been included in the list of scheduled tribes. This only perpetuated the general feeling that the inclusion of DGHC within the Sixth Schedule was just a ploy by Ghisingh to continue his stranglehold on the council. The mood in the hills changed drastically after the announcement by the central government, in November 2007, that the DGHC will be included in the Sixth Schedule – the move was initiated in the Parliament as a follow-up to the tripartite agreement of 2005. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and other opposition parties completely rejected this decision claiming that only the granting of statehood would be in accordance with popular sentiments of the region. By trying to appease Ghisingh, the governments had only alienated themselves further from the agitating masses. As the unrest grew, Ghisingh was forced to resign from his position of caretaker chairman of DGHC. Also, in February 2008, bowing to the pressure of the Hill communities, the central government decided to postpone matters related to the Sixth Schedule. Today, we wait to see how events unfold in the coming days.

Nationalities and their right to self-determination

The movement in Darjeeling has once again brought, into discussion, the issues related to the right to self-determination. Let us now try to understand what this right implies and who are in a position to exercise this right. Using the words from a statement of the Cordillera People’s Alliance, a platform for protection of the democratic rights of the indigenous Cordillera nation in Philippines, – “In the most general terms, the right to self-determination means the right of every historically-constituted people to determine their destiny and development based on their own wishes, free from forcible interference by other peoples. It is the sovereign right of a people to freely choose and develop their own socio- economic, political, and cultural systems. In a specifically political sense, the right to self-determination is the right of a people to constitute itself as an independent state or as a separate political entity if it so decides, enjoying the same rights as all other nation-states, or otherwise, to freely determine its mode of association with an existing state wherein it enjoys the same rights as the other constituent peoples of that state. In this sense, the right to self-determination covers a wide range of options that a people can choose from.”

It is generally accepted that such a right is bestowed upon a collection of people forming a distinct nation. The obvious question, then, is what defines a nation ? Stalin has summarized it succinctly – “A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture.” Such a definition implies that within the boundaries of a country, there can exist several nations with distinct identities. In such circumstances, national oppression consists of institutionalized or deeply ingrained set of oppressive policies and practices adopted by the dominant nation against other nationalities. This results in socio-economic discriminations which hinder the development or growth of the oppressed nations. As a result, these suppressed nations begin to assert their right to decide their future, in a bid to liberate themselves from the national oppression.

Ever since the birth of modern countries, the right of self-determination of oppressed nations have been enunciated in different corners of the world. With the growing anti-colonial struggles across the globe, such demands became more vociferous. After the end of World War II, the United Nations was forced to address this problem and it led, finally, to the proclamation of the right of self-determination as an universal right, enshrined in the two international covenants – International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The first paragraph of common article 1 states: “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” In the post-colonial period, debates have continued within the United Nations due to the innumerable conflicts between existing nation-states and the oppressed nationalities seeking to exercise the right to self-determination. Also, the famous Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples, signed in Algiers in 1976, upholds the right to political self-determination; Article 5, 6 and 7 of the declaration state “Every people has an imprescriptible and unalienable right to self-determination. It shall determine its political status freely and without any foreign interference. Every people has the right to break free from any colonial or foreign domination, whether direct or indirect, and from any racist regime.Every people has the right to have democratic government representing all the citizens without distinction as to race, sex, belief or colour, and capable of ensuring effective respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.”

While India recognizes the right to self-determination of nations under foreign occupation, it, however, does not acknowledge the right to self-determination of nations, within its national boundaries, which may lead to secession. From the very days of independence, therefore, it has been in conflict with various such nationalities, in the North as well as North East. However, within national boundaries, it accepts the formation of new provinces. The Indian constitution categorically states that the Indian Parliament may, by law, form a new State by separation of territory from any State or by uniting two or more States or parts of States or by uniting any territory to a part of any State; increase the area of any State; diminish the area of any State; alter the boundaries of any State; alter the name of any State. Therefore, the aspiration of the people of Darjeeling to form a separate state within the Indian union does not violate the constitution. Whether a new province is formed or not will now be completely dependent on how forceful the demands are for the separate state and how willing the political establishment is to accommodate such demands. Only in the recent past, the new states of Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh were carved out from the existing states when the ruling class found that the new formations suited their purpose.

Stance of CPI(M) and its allies

During the days of Indian independence, we have seen how the CPI had strongly advocated for the right to self-determination of the Gorkha community. Also, during the same priod, the communist party had led the struggle for formation of states in south India based on languages. However, as years went by, the parliamentary communist parties, having become strongly entrenched in the Indian electoral politics, slowly became unsympathetic to the demands of right to self-determination of different nationalities within the Indian territory. In general, these parties oppose the formation of new states and also reject any demands for secession from the Indian Union (e.g., the Kashmiri struggle). Probably, in their attempt to become “responsible” parliamentary parties within the Indian setup , they have tried to be as nationalistic as possible and have thus been stating that the territorial integrity of India cannot be questioned. On a lighter note, it is also possible that being continuously ridiculed, by rightist elements, as Chinese allies and the proponents of Indian partition (due to the Adhikary thesis), these parties always fear that any support for right to self-determination might make them political outcasts in the electoral battles. Therefore, in general, they have tried to pander to the jingoistic sentiments.

What are the main objections of these parties regarding the formation of new states or the demands for exercising the right to self-determination ? There are basically two arguments – i) division of states (or a probable secession) will weaken the working class movement and make them easier targets of the ruling class oppression ii) imperialist forces will use this as an instrument for breaking down hostile states and form new imperialist bases (as an example, they cite the formation of Kosovo with the help of American intervention).

It is true that most of these movements for self-determination are led by the local bourgeoisie. Usually this class is in fight with the bourgeoisie of the oppressing nationality to gain monopoly over local commerce and this results in the call for right to self-determination. The demand can only gain strength if truly there is a suppression of cultural expressions and lack of socio-economic development of the people in that region – if this is indeed the case, people from all segments of society definitely unite to free themselves from the oppressors. In such circumstances, the struggle for liberty also becomes a struggle against the oppressive ruling class of the dominant nationality and therefore such struggles require the unequivocal support of defenders of democratic rights. However, it is also important that, in those movements, the leftist forces which represent the interests of the working class/the peasantry/the unemployed/the women/social minorities, continue to engage in debates or struggles within the nationality and try to influence the course of the movement. External left support, apart from supporting the struggle, must also try to help these leftist forces in whatever way possible; in case, these forces are weak in areas of struggle, efforts must be made to help them in building up the movement. Also, when self-rule is obtained in those areas, struggles against different forms of oppressions on different segments of society are bound to emerge and therefore, the working class movement will only be strengthened in such situations. It has also been argued that solidarity can only been expressed if the leadership is secular and progressive in nature. Firstly, it is completely undemocratic for people from outside to determine who should lead the struggle – the people of the region are the only ones who should decide the path and the mode of their own struggle. Further, it is also not desirable to wait till the moment such leadership emerges among the nationality when the current socio-economic conditions are unbearable. Therefore, when the primary aim is the fight against the suppression of national expressions, such preconditions can only hamper the progress of the struggle. Of course, imperialist forces will use whatever wedge it can find to divide nations, mold the leadership of the oppressed nationality to further its own economic/strategic interests and also suppress the struggle of the common people. In such situations, alertness of the leftist forces within the movement is necessary – history provides them with sufficient lessons to counter imperialist designs and, of course, external solidarity groups must help them in this.

In the Indian context, let us accept that the working class movement, despite showing sufficient promises, has not reached the level of desired potency where it can confront and resist the policies of the ruling class. The two large leftist workers’ unions, CITU and AITUC, have lost considerable ground and can no longer claim to be the only voice of the workers in India. Therefore, it does not make a strong argument that the unity of the Indian working class will be weakened by the movements for self-determination. In case the scenario was such that regional ruling classes were seeking to secede with the purpose of preventing the spread of a growing powerful movement of workers and peasants, these arguments may have been worthwhile. But this is certainly not the situation in India. On the other hand, because of the general socio-economic backwardness of the regions which seek self-determination, these places could be the embryos of stronger leftist movements in the country. It is also difficult to claim, at the current juncture, that there is imperialist interference in those regions which seek to continue within the Indian Union after obtaining the right to self-rule. One may, for the sake of argument, make such claims for regions which wish to secede. It is also a fact that the Left Front ruled state governments have themselves not shied away from implementing neo-liberal economic policies which hurt the common masses or stopped seeking funds from imperialist sources. Thus, it is sheer dishonesty on the part of these leftist parties to claim that, after gaining self-rule, the new governments will indulge in imperialist policies which are harmful to the struggling people. Of course, if such situations arise, it becomes imperative for the leftist forces within those regions to organise the people to resist such policies. In fact, such situations do exist in the newly formed states of Jharkhand and Chattisgarh and it is sad that, there, these leftist parties have failed to organise or strengthen the people’s movements which can resist such policies. For the consumption of mainstream politics, the CPI(M) has claimed that lack of sufficient resources for generating revenues will force the new smaller states to be financially dependent on the central government and therefore it would weaken the federal spirit of the union. In this regard, it should be pointed out that if historically a region is economically backward or has faced social discriminations by the dominant nationalities, it is completely undemocratic to deny the people their right to self-determination on the pretext that the new state will be economically unviable. Those regions cannot wait for ever for the character of the state to change so that the oppressions cease to exist. Rather, the immediate formation of a new province along with implementation of a people’s program can alleviate their problems and perhaps chart a new course in governance.

Now, let us be more specific about the situation in Gorkhaland. The Left Front government, like most rulers, have never been sympathetic to the demands of right to self-determination within the boundaries of West Bengal. During the struggle for a separate state of Kamtapur by the Rajbangshis of North Bengal, the state brutally suppressed the nascent movement with several incidents of gross human rights violations. Unlike the case of Rajbangshis, CPI(M) and its intellectuals have not tried to delve into semantics to contest the Gorkha nationhood – in this case, it is an impossible task for them and would be a complete turnaround from their 1947 analysis. Rather they have adopted a more blunt approach : dubbing the demand for Gorkhaland as “separatist” in character and claiming that this demand is being incited by “foreign forces”. They have even tried to generate ghosts of possible future secessions from the Indian Union. Some CPI(M) leaders have also claimed that the present demands do not genuinely reflect the will of the people, rather it is the attempt of opportunistic and communal elements to claim state power. Statements such as “Bangla bhag hotey debo na” (We will not allow any division of Bengal) from these leaders have only exposed their Bengali chauvinistic nature and a rather crude attempt to stoke nationalistic feelings among Bengalis, specially the middle-class, to gain popular support for suppressing such movements. Often these leaders, through their public statements, have revealed their apparent feeling of superior understanding of state of affairs, as if they know better than the inhabitants of Darjeeling what is good or bad for the development of the region. It is incomprehensible, to any democratic-minded person, why a deprived section, for their well-being, should rely on the benevolence of the ruling establishment. There have also been reports of elements trying to divide communities by creating communal tensions. While miscreants are bound to take advantage of any crisis, let us also not forget that the ruling establishments can resort to such tactics to discredit the opposition and thereby suppress popular movements.

Whatever noise they might make, the Left Front cannot shrug off the lack of developmental work in the hills from 1977 onwards, although they will certainly point to Ghisingh for mismanagement of funds. Today, there is a genuine demand from the people for better civic facilities, schools, colleges, technical institutions, an university, industries and an end to unemployment. It is usually claimed by the mainstream Indian left that capitalistic development is uneven in nature and the genuine grievances of the backward areas need to be addressed to solve economic problems without requiring to partition provinces. Given the stewardship of a government for around three decades, it is amazing that the Left Front government has not been able to practice what it otherwise preaches. Rather than industrial development, the hilly regions have actually seen an industrial decline. The tea industry in Darjeeling and surrounding area is in state of crisis – several of them have closed down and the workers are suffering from chronic unemployment. Same is the state of affairs in the cinchona plantations. The state government, disregarding the fate of the workers, has allied with many of the business families to convert the tea-gardens into resorts. In some tea-gardens, leaders of CITU have been attacked by the unemployed workers when these leaders have indulged in middlemanship or corruption. With the Left Front government increasingly allying with neo-liberal forces, the protection of the capitalist interests are seemingly more important – therefore, these territories need to be retained for their abundant natural resources, tourism, markets and other capitalist exploitations.

In Conclusion

There is no doubt that the people in Darjeeling constitute a distinct nation and their socio-economic and cultural life has not been allowed to fully flourish in post-independent India. Their struggle for self-rule, which is not new but has a history of around 100 years, has also found support from later settlers of the region – everyone, it seems, is hoping that the formation of a new state will bring new fortunes and rejuvenate life in that area. On the other hand, the Left Front government seems to be in no mood to part with that region. Currently, other major parliamentary political parties are also not in favour of partitioning the state. Meanwhile, the adamant state government is bound try every possible tactics to deny the people their right to self-determination. For those of us, who wish to uphold the democratic rights of struggling people, it is our responsibility to not only remain alert to the possibilities of violations of the rights of the people of Darjeeling but also to actively express solidarity in their political struggle to decide their own destiny.

References

i) Silence under freedom, Subhash Ranjan Chakraborty, The Politics of Autonomy : Indian Experiences,
edited by Ranabir Samaddar, published by Calcutta Research Group.
ii) History of Darjeeling, Sonam B. Wangyal
iii) Never ending wait for homeland, Sonam B. Wangyal
iv) Gorkhaland Andolan : Jatisattwar Atmaniyontroner Adhikar Prasonge, Samik Chakraborty, Shramikshakti, August 2008.
v) Ek Abodomito Jatisattwar Swabhumi Andolan : Gorkhaland, Partha Sarathi Bandyopadhyay, Aneek, July 2008.

(The article is a compilation and commentary by Pinaki and Samik, members of Sanhati. Both of them are involved with the democratic-rights organisations in India)

7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Understanding the demand for Gorkhaland : An introductory note”

  1. parijat bhattacharya Says:
    November 22nd, 2008 at 01:24

    Issues upon Darjeeling and a plot to Dissect West Bengal.

    My birthplace is Siliguri, under Darjeeling district of West Bengal and my Father and Forefather’s hometown was Darjeeling. My Father did his studies at Darjeeling and later on settled at Siliguri. It is perhaps known to everybody that Darjeeling is called the “Queen of the Hills” all over the world, by virtue of her diverse nature of seasonal beauty and attracts lots of wide range of tourists not only from India but also from all over the world. But the local people of Darjeeling have to struggle hard daily for their living against the odds of nature but even then, their sober, friendly and helping attitude is really praise worthy. These local people suffer from the odds of nature, adverse condition of the hills disturbs the communication, inadequate supply of water for drinking and performing day to day activities, inadequate supply of medicine and want of Good doctors and Hospitals. The Rock specialists and Geologists in India classify the hills of Darjeeling as Crystalline Zone. Thus in these crystalline zone, construction of roads require intense nature of specialized technical design and construction phenomena like application of geo-synthetics, stabilization of the major shear planes and slip zones etc. Furthermore in spite of having adequate rains in these hills, construction water shed area or reservoir for supply of water also requires specialized techniques. These techniques are to be governed by utmost supervision, specialized design, and enormous amount of fund and each of these construction must be treated as a separate project supported with a Detailed project Report.
    As discussed earlier about the behavior of the local people of the Hills, their behavior suddenly started to change from the year 1980. They started to demand for a separate Gorkha Land under the leadership of Subhash Ghising and continued agitation in the Hills in various non-democratic forms. They broke the Glass House, set in fire different historical and important pieces of the Hills, defamed and attacked officials of Govt. administration, used weapons, bombs and grenades (The sources of these weapons is again questionable.)and went for often and on continuous strikes with a aim to seal the Govt. machinery .Their again main target of attack was CPI(M) party members and many CPI(M) party members were murdered and party offices were burned. Their so formed organization named as GNLF (Gorkha national liberation front) became so much arrogant and non-democratic in their movement that State Govt. after due counseling with the then Congress (I) ruled Central Govt. started to encounter their movement through Administration and Police because in the mean time all means of mutual discussions were in vain. The GNLF did not contest any elections themselves, used communal abusive languages, and did not let the local people of the hills to vote in the elections. However the State Govt. was ultimately in a position to control these anarchy but again in the year 1989, during the Lok Sabha elections, GNLF was suddenly supported by Congress (I) and with a joint coalition, they defeated the existing MP of CPI (M) from the Darjeeling lok sabha seat. This was not astonishing to us because History has proved about the nature of Congress to go in illegal coalition with many anti-nationalist forces, for their political stakes and divide the States. However, a so-called Autonomous Hill Council (DGHC-Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council) and it was vested with more powers for the Development of the Hills. Almost 20 yrs have passed from them with out any significant development in the hills. The DGHC councilors rampantly devoured the huge funds allotted for the development and as usually, people of the hills suffered. However in the recent past i.e, from the year 2007, we came to know of the recent formation of a fragmentation named Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) from the GNLF from the press and the media. This is the Character of the feudalists and the capitalist forces that they can never be congregated and intact. For example Shri Somen Mitra (because his legislative area of Sealdah does not exist and he is not going to request Shri Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, the State Congress president for a seat to win as a MLA, left congress and is on way of making some common platform with Mamata, Shri Subroto Mukherjee, at one point of time, was a councilor of Trinamool, MLA of Congress and Leader of a congress affiliated Trade union. How can a person have so many stances and ideology? We came to know that like previous demand of GNLF, the GJM were up for their separate Gorkhaland. The left front Govt. of West Bengal strongly objected to their demand but however summoned and organized series of discussions with the members of GJM. But they were very much adamant in their attitude to stick on to their demand of a separate Gorkhaland. They like the previous 80’s called for indefinite strikes in the hills and started to persecute the CPI (M) party members but not other party supporters so is there any evil intent of some unseen forces against CPI(M) ?? Are Maoists of Nepal behind the scene for making Darjeeling their future corridor for destructive activities? The CPI (M) party members were forced to surrender or were driven out from the hills. In this context, the dual character of Congress was again envisaged. The Prodesh Congress Sabhapati of West Bengal stated that he did not support the division of the State but at the same time the Congress MP from the hills supported the demand of Gorkhaland. However the State Govt. like before took a good gesture and went for all political meeting but Smt Mamata did not attend to the same or was She and her (Ex?) ally (BJP) supports this demand. The State Govt. however insisted for granting more powers to the people of hills through the Central Govt. but GJM was again equally adamant in their demands.
    The Press and the media for some embedded obvious reasons started to take the advantage of the situation. As usual they made responsible the CPI(M) for this anarchy. The TV Channels convened opinion polls with the so-called intellectuals of kolkata (Those who visit the hills once in a year for few days) and they start the same juggling with Journalism. Some of them declare that a separete Gorkhaland should be made. Some of the TV Channel like Kolkata TV (A now Mamata Fan) went straight up to Darjeeling and organized an opinion poll there itself with the local people of Darjeeling and the Leaders of GJM. Now who would dare to speak against the division of the State there at Darjeeling? It thus appears to me, although in a smaller scale, a similar nature of plot is being made like Yugoslavia, to organize a Civil war and divide this Left front governed State and who has the interest to drive out CPI(M) from Bengal ? Is it Mamata and Congress in the front end and USA in behind? The Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika, captioned in their editorial page in issue of 2nd July, 2008 that Gorkhaland was the demand of CPI(M) party secretary Shri Ratan Lal Brahmin in the very beginning of Indian Independence (1947) and now that they are diverting away from the same. This may be noted that these sorts of Statement, which does not reveal the full truth, is not only a crime but also politically motivated. Regarding this claim of Anandabazar Patrika, I want to bring in light certain points, because the political intentions of Anandabazar Patrika must be revealed.
    1) It was 6th April, 1947, prior to the Indian Independence, (when there was not defined District Committee of the Communist Party in Darjeeling and the organizational activities there were maneuvered by Comrade Sushil Chatterjee who later on brought in the movement, Comrade Ratanlal Brahmin for his dire struggle for the commons and the poor people in the hills) Ganesh Lal Subba was a local Secretary of the party at Darjeeling. It was his proposal of a separate Gorkhastan and not the party’s proposal. The said proposal was never vetted by any of the local, zonal, District or state committee of the party. Shri Ganesh Lal Subba was later on expelled from the party. Similarly the party had expelled later MP Daoa Lama and R B Rai for their demand of a separate State. Anandabazar Patrika must study more prior to combating CPI(M).
    2) In the Party’s Kolkata Congress in the year 1951, it was decided that a demand will be raised for autonomy for the hilly areas of Darjeeling and it was unanimously accepted. Later on in the year 1972, during 9th Party Congress at Madurai, the scientific justifications of creation local autonomous bodies were duly emphasized.
    3) In the year 1956, Darjeeling District Committee of the Party placed the demand of Autonomous administration to the State Govt. The copy of the same was placed to the Prime Minister, President and all Political Parties.
    4) In the year 1955, Shri Jyoti Basu placed the demand of the Constitutional rights of the Nepali language, autonomy in Darjeeling and the rights and claims of the Tea workers and the party fought for these demands till 1977 when CPI(M) MLA , Shri Biren Bose raised the demand. Till as on date the party comrades in the hills e.g. Com S.P. Lepcha and others are fighting for more autonomy in the hills but they are now persecuted.
    5) The historical movement for claims and rights of the Tea workers started in the year 1955 under the leadership of Com. Ratan Lal Brahmin. On 25th June, 1955, the Police opened fire over the labourers in the movement and many including children and women died.
    6) Finally I am hereby quoting a deputation of the Communist Party against the British Empire in India
    “The Communist Party of India vehemently opposes the sinister British Imperialistic plot of excluding the district of Darjeeling from the rest of India and its constitution into a separate chief Commissioner’s Province as has been put forward by the Hillmen’s Association in its memorial to Lord Pethick Lawrence, Secretary of State of India, in December 1946. This Association (Hillmen’s Association) represents none but the local agents of the British Imperialism. The Communist Party of India is also opposed to any such plans that might be put forward by the local agents of British Imperialism in a modified form. It has reason to apprehend that the British Imperialists are hatching a plot to place the district of Darjeeling with other tribal peoples of Assam and Dooars in an altogether new Province to be called the North Eastern Himalayan Hill Province.”

    The examples of the so-called Democratic movement of Shri Bimal Gurung, the GJM supremo, in the hills. (But before the Press and media he says that it is the activity of his supporters whenever they are moved emotionally.)
    1) Forceful strikes in the hills.
    2) Setting in fire CPI(M) party offices.
    3) Barring all other opposition parties from carrying out any political activities in the hills.
    4) Barring Shri Ashoke Bhattacharya, State Minister from entering Mirik, his own constituency.
    5) Threatening CPI(M) Party members(Not other Parties exclusively) and supporters to leave hills if they did not surrender.
    THESE ACTIVITIES ARE DEFINITILY OF FASCIST APPROACH.

    subject to grammatical corrections…

  2. a gorkha Says:
    November 26th, 2008 at 12:21

    dear mr. parijat bhattacharya,

    you need to get your thoughts in order first:

    1. was the demand for a separate state first raised by ghising (80’s) or is it pre independence demand (as you yourself have mentioned)?

    2. who are you trying to blame,

    a. the congress?
    b. Mamta ?
    c. ananda bazar patrika?
    c. People struggling for statehood?
    d. CPIM?
    e. ratan lal brahamin?
    f. the USA?
    g. etc etc.?

    :o

    3. does anyone who sees the CPM’s folly and archaic policies and violence automatically qualify to be branded “fascist”? :D

    4. Will the populace meekly allow an elected person if he brands them foreigner? (with reference to Shri Ashok Bhattacharya Hon. Minister)

  3. Oscar Says:
    November 27th, 2008 at 07:57

    It is so important for the public to find out what is going in Darjeeling and where the movement is heading. From what I have found out so far, these are the following facts (which I request interested people to challenge anytime) that I would like to place before all of you and let you decide whether the so called quest for a separate state sounds as honest as some of the leaders are proclaiming.

    Darjeeling is being held hostage by three previous GNLF gang members, namely Nicole Tamang, Deven Sharma and Dinesh Thing. Nicole and Deven are from ropeway, Singamari. Dinesh is from Patlebas. These three individuals have amongst themselves managed to amass crores of rupees so far so fast already and it would not be unfair to say that Bimal Gurung is totally aware of that fact but keeps quiet for innumerable reasons. These three left over gangsters from the Ghising dynasty control all the contractors in DGHC, PWD as well as the National Highway among other departments. They have hired a bunch of local goons to do their jobs for them and are getting richer by the day. By the time a separate state is formed in Darjeeling, they would have enough wealth and power to continue their mafia type rule exactly like what Ghising did for twenty years.

    Under the shadow of these three knights of Bimal Gurung here are the following characters that are making lots of kills in the eco system very much like the hyenas of the Kalahari:

    Pravin Subba from Keerabari looks after the Railway and also PWD and several other departments. Nirmal Subba supervises the Darjeeling Municipality. A notable and much highlighted leader on the making Roshan Giri formerly with AGSU who grew to fame after the Dawa Palzor Drug case where he was awarded with 5 lakhs of rupees for aiding and rescuing the convict. A personality that has zero knowledge about Darjeeling and who obviously sounded like a rickshaw puller while in conversation with the Bengali leaders of Bengal.

    Dawa Lama is their cashier and handles the transactions. D.K. Pradhan a renowned don of GNLF is seen closely walking and standing alongside Bimal Gurung and their relationship seems to be strengthening every passing day. Please mind you these are all Central Committee members! As for Binoy Tamang, Amar Lama, Taranga Pandit, Isamani Pakhrin, Raju Pradhan and Dr. Harka Bdr. Chhetri, I have begun to doubt their intentions and will further investigate and get to the bottom of their involvement in this grand theft of the people of Darjeeling. Don’t be surprised if they come out as dirty as their comrades because they are as equally aware of what is actually going on inside that office of theirs. If one isn’t a part of the solution he is indeed a part of the problem as someone once said. And so is every single individual from Darjeeling if we let this scam go uninterrupted.

    It is also a known rumor that GNLF strongmen Tilak Dewan and Lokey Gurung are constantly in touch with them and all ready to come back once again to join in the highway robbery.

    The scenario in Darjeeling is getting more pathetic by the day. Lawlessness prevails and goons are getting prosperous. And all this even before there is any sign of a separate state. Imagine what it will be like after a state is formed? It will become ten times worse than Bihar, take my word for it. There is no check and balance and nothing and no one to contest or question the more and more authoritative nature of the present leaders in Darjeeling.

    Are we making way for a dictator like Ghising to come in and make us his slaves one more time? Why aren’t learned individuals from all walks of life participating in the Tripartite meetings and discussions and debates? Is it because the leaders fear that they might not sound as accurate and reasonable in front of them? Or is it because the leaders are as evil as Ghising and believe that they can get away with another 20 years of ravaging the spirit of the people of Darjeeling? Is it not a democratic world that we all live in? The irony is that we are citizens of the largest democracy in the world!! Where are the voices of the public? Are the public just fit to wear “daura suruwal and chowbandi cholo”? Are the public just fit for tagging behind gangsters and their threats? Are the public’s sole purpose to just host cultural programs and sing and dance their time away? If they are so against the State government why aren’t they dissolving the DGHC? Is it because it is a money making machine for the few selected crooks? Why in the world are they calling it a Gandhian type of movement when they are practicing violence towards any critic of theirs. Why was it necessary to thrash down Glenary’s? Why was it necessary to smear people with disgusting black chemicals if they did not want to wear ‘daura suruwal’? What are they doing making children sit for 48 hours of hunger strike? Don’t they know the implications of these disastrous methods? Don’t they want to look different from GNLF?
    This is the world of the internet and I urge all people who truly have a place in their hearts for our beloved Darjeeling to come out and start inquiring and asking and writing and talking about the movement and voice their arguments and thoughts. We have to make this movement more inclusive and transparent. We cannot be repeating the same kind of mistakes that we earlier did. We have to make this movement a success but not at any cost for what is the point of a struggle if in the end it chops off your own two feet and your tongue? If we don’t then we must be willing to live like slaves for the rest of our lives and not even mention to anyone that we are Nepalis known for their valor and bravery. Let us all help Bimal Gurung continue on his path toward a real successful ending to this quest for Gorkhaland and not let his mind be influenced by greed, lust and pure clean evil that surrounds him everyday by doing something about it before it’s too late. What do you think???

  4. a gorkha Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 08:32

    I think I still want Gorkhaland! Infact, All of Us want GORKHALAND!!

  5. Bahadur Says:
    May 19th, 2010 at 08:35

    A wonderful treatise by Messrs Pinaki and Samik. Though being non Gorkhas (I assume), they have hit the pin right on the head. The Gorkhaland movement is rightly for Self determination and in the face of unbridled immigration from neighbouring countries Self preservation.
    And for the two Gorkha Jh***as this is an intellectual forum and not one for red propaganda and ‘he earn money, I was earning, now I no money, I angry, very very angry’. BOLLOCKS jh***as haru

  6. Shantanu Gangaridi Says:
    June 8th, 2017 at 19:53

    The so called Gorkhas are not aborigin of West Bengal Hills.
    The nepalese people from Kingdom of Nepal started to settlled in the hills during early 1900 and gradually strenthened there footings and ultimately raised the demand for Gorkhaland. The people migrated from Nepal cannot have voting right but almost every settlers from Nepal managed to get the voting right.
    Secondly, after the intansification of demand for Gorkhaland the tribal states of North East became aprehansive of so called Nepalese people and started ethnic cleansing. In Meghalaya there were lacs of Nepalese all of whom were flushed out of that state.
    All of them (evicted from NE States) got their save heaven in Dargerling Hills.

  7. Salim Subba Says:
    January 17th, 2018 at 02:28

    Dear Shantanu,
    The Anglo-Nepalese War broke between the East India Company and Nepalese in 1814-1816 where Nepalese were defeated. By 1816 with the Treaty of Sugaulii, the British gained direct control over Kumaon and Garhwal region in the west and large tracts of Tarai lowlands in the south and the Darjeeling district in the East. During the war, the British had sought assistance from Sikkim because of its strategic location. This area between the rivers Mechi and Tista were given to the Raja of Sikkim whose sovereignty was guaranteed by the Company. The boundary between Sikkim and Nepal was laid along the Mahanadi and the Mechi rivers and the Singalila range. Ten years after the Treaty of Sugauli, boundary disputes arose between Sikkim and Nepal. This matter was referred to the Governor General of East India Company and in 1828 Capt. Lloyd and J.W. Grant were deputed to settle the dispute. Lloyd visited the old Goorkha station called Darjeeling for six days in February 1829 and claimed to be the first European to visit the place.
    Lord William Bentinck directed Lloyd to start negotiation with Sikkim, so he offered payment in money or land in exchange to the Raja of Sikkim. Later Darjeeling hills were brought under company as a free gift from the Raja of Sikkim. When General Lloyd and Dr Chapman visited Darjeeling in 1836, all they found was “some huts recently erected by the Raja of Sikkim in which they spent a night shivering with cold, without food or bedding”(ibid pp 93). So now Darjeeling came under the new governance of East India Company. The Raja of Sikkim after losing the land prohibited his subjects from going to Darjeeling and helping the British to establish the new settlement. Dr Campbell, medical officer of EIC was brought from Kathmandu valley to Darjeeling as the new Superintendent of the new territory who later established tea industry there.
    Hope you have understood the fact and history of the place.

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