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By K B Yogi
1) After series of violent clashes in different places of Terai and Dooars between the supporters of Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha and Anti-Gorkhaland supporters of Adibasis Bikash Parishad and others, the Chief Minister, Shri Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was compelled to invite the leaders of Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha and Adibasi Bikash Parishad in the last week of January and first week of February 2009 for peace talk to avoid further ethnic clashes between the Gorkhaland and anti-Gorkhaland supporters. These conflicts almost reached the point of violent communal clashes creating a serious law and order problem for the State Government.
2) After 28 months of violent movement for Gorkhaland in 1986 by Gorkha National Liberation Front of Shri Subash Ghising he had finally settled for Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council through a Tripartite Agreement for socio-economic development in three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling This unique experiment of Hill Council not tried anywhere in the country could not fulfill the aspirations of people.Shri Subash Ghising, the State and the Central Govt then proposed Sixth Schedule in lieu of DGHC by suitable Constitutional ammendments. It was vehemently opposed by the people under the leadership of Bimal Gurung who had formed Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha in October 2007 demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland consisting of Darjeeling Hills and the Gorkhas and the Adibasis majority areas of Terai and Dooars region
3) This demand of the Gorkhaland was also opposed by Communist Party of India (Marxists), the constituent Parties of the Left Front & others Political Parties of Bengal.
In the similar way, this demand is being opposed by some outfits like Amra Bangali, Jana Chetna Manch, Jana Jagaran Manch, Banga-O-Bangla Bhasa Bhacho Samiti, Shiva Sena and others. Against all democratic norms and decency, they even opposed and obstructed the holding of public meetings in Terai and Dooars by Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha to explain the grounds for separate state. There was economic blockade on the movement of food, essential commodities, and medicines to Darjeeling Hills by these organizations at Siliguri and elsewhere on 12th and 13th June 2008.
All these events were widely covered by vernacular print and electronic media but it was not properly reported with few exceptions in the national newspapers and TV channels. There were concerted attempts by CPM & Left Parties to brand this movement for separate state as Anti-national, Separatist, Communal and Secessionist and an attempt for further division of Bengal.
4) Unfortunately, nobody ever attempted to understand or fathom the root causes for the separate Gorkhaland movement. Firstly, to put the record straight, this demand for separate administrative set-up was first raised by leaders of Hillman’s, Darjeeling in the year 1907. In fact, it is the oldest demand in the whole of the country for a separate state within the constitutional framework of India. The original demand for separation of Darjeeling and the Dooars areas annexed from the Kingdom of Sikkim and Bhutan was on the grounds of difference in ethnicity, culture, language, social customs food habits, geography, history and mind-set between the people of these regions with the people of Bengal. There is no affinity between the people of proposed state of Gorkhaland and that of Bengal. Even the Buddhism and Hinduism practiced by them are different. It was a sheer misfortune of history that the annexed areas through the Deed of Grant of 1835 between East India Company and Sikkimputtee Rajah of Sikkim and Treaty of Sinchula of 1865 between British India and Bhutan, were then tagged only for administrative convenience with Bengal Presidency comprising the present state of West Bengal, Bangladesh, Assam, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand and a part of Myanmar. It is for this reason that the British India has kept Darjeeling district as Non-Regulated Areas, Scheduled District, Excluded Areas and Partially Excluded Areas till Independence in 1947. In the known history of the region the proposed areas of Gorkhaland was never ruled by any Rajah or Nawab of Bengal. They were territories under the kingdom of Sikkim and Bhutan only. It was never a part of Bengal. So the question of division of Bengal as stated by CPM, all political parties of Bengal, Amra Bengali, Jana Jagaran Manch and other such organizations mush- roomed recently in Siliguri and its adjoining areas does not hold good. It is a demand not against the Bengalese community but it is definitely against their nationalistic chauvinism, political and cultural hegemony, policy and practice of majoritarian nationalism, application of brute demographic aggression against the dis-advantaged Gorkhas, Adibasis and other backward communities by taking advantage of their social, educational, economical and political backwardness.
5) The Gorkhas and the tribals (Adibasis) of Chottanagpur plateau being the main labour force in the tea gardens of Terai and Dooars have been living and working together peacefully for more than 130 years in cordial, harmonious and brotherly manner without any communal clashes as both these communities have to work and live in the similar socio-economic and political situations. In the initial stage, when meetings, rallies and marches were organized by Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha in different areas of Terai and Dooars there was no such opposition and disturbances; on the other hand, they had also supported the cause and demand of Gorkhaland. But strangely during the Dooars expedition of Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha, there was sudden opposition and anti-Gorkhaland agitation by the so called tribals under the aegis of Adibasi Bikash Parishad- an NGO registered under Societies Registration Act of 1861 with objective of non-political activities. The sensible peoples are suspecting this opposition was initiated at the behest of CPM, RSP and organizations like Amra Bangali, Uttar Banga Jana Jagaran Manch and others. Tea gardens in Dooars and Terai is the trade union bastion of CPM and RSP. The advent of Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha and creation of Gorkhaland in this region will be loss of their political domination and exploitation of tea garden workers. All the Trade Union leaders of these tea gardens at Block and District levels are generally from non-working members of the majority community. Representatives from the Gorkhas or tribals (Adibasis), if any, have no voice at the policy and decision making process of their fate in the affairs of these unions. They are just pawns in the political chess board of dominant political parties in power.
6) The economical, social, political, cultural, educational conditions of tea garden workers in Darjeeling Hills, Terai and Dooars of both the Gorkhas and the tribal (Adibasis) are deplorable and pathetic. They are at the mercy of tea garden Management and Proprietors and to some extent the Trade Union leaders. Almost for about 45 years till 9th Five Year Plan, tea gardens and cinchona plantation were deliberately kept out of the purview of Five Year Plans of the Govt. of India and Rural Development Schemes by West Bengal Govt. Whereas it was not the scenario in tea, cinchona or coffee plantations in the states of Assam and South India. As a consequence of these deprivations, the tea garden workers- both Gorkhas and tribals (Adibasis) were denied the benefits of economical, social, educational upliftment envisaged in these Plans and Development Programmes. The stand and contention of the State Govt for this exclusion was that tea gardens are private properties and hence it is the duty and responsibilities of the Managements to look after the welfare of their workers under the provision of out-dated Plantation Labour Act of 1951. With closures of about 13 tea gardens in Dooars alone, the plight of tea garden workers and their dependent family members has become miserable, inhuman and pitiable.
During deposition before Parliamentary Standing Committee of Home Affairs on 7th Feb’08 against Sixth Schedule Bill, Manoj Tigga, President of Dooars Jana Sangharsa Morcha had stated, that “…… Gorkhas and Adibasis are being yoked like two bulls for ploughing Dooars. There is no scope for college education in Hindi medium. If we make demands they say that Nepalese should go to Nepal and Adibasis to Jharkhand… 98% workers in the tea garden are Gorkhas and Adibasis. There are no industries except tea… our daily wages is about Rs. 50/-. With this meager income, it is difficult to make both ends meet…..”
After holding a meeting with the Chief Minister, Shri Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in Writers’ Building, Kolkata in the first week of Feb’09, the leaders of Adibasi Bikash Parishad stated in the Press Conference that the tribals in Dooars are backward economically, socially and educationally. There is rampant un-employment among them, there is no proper drinking water facilities for them, there are no Hindi medium secondary schools for Hindi-speaking tribals students, Bengali teachers are appointed in Hindi/ Nepal speaking Primary Schools in tea gardens of Dooars by Jalpaiguri District Primary School Council. Tribals MLAs and MPs selected by the political parties from the reserved Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies are just puppets in the hands of their political masters and they do not look after the welfare of their community. They do not get any benefits from developmental activities of the District Administration or the Zilla Parishad. Tribals in Dooars are neglected. The ground realities of the Gorkhas in Darjeeling Hills, Terai and Dooars are also the same.
All round backwardness of proposed Gorkhaland region is due to the policy and practice of Neo-Colonialism espoused by Kwame Nkrumah, the first post-independence President of Ghana is being followed by the advanced, educated, politically and administratively powerful majority community in power in the state against the dis-advantaged and backward Gorkhas and Adibasis communities. The concept developed by the Marxists co-related to their Dependency Theory of inequalities within the world system is being applied by the chauvinistic community these days. The Bengalese have extended the modified neo-colonialism to Darjeeling Hills, Terai, Dooars and to similar backward regions of Midnapur, Purulia, Bankura districts of the state in respect of politics, economy, education, social and cultural affairs. When the voices of protests against discrimination and deprivation are raised, the movement is called secessionist, anti-national and communal. Out of disgust, desperation and dissatisfaction against the ruling majority community when there were movements and agitations by the Rajbangshis and Koche in North Bengal under Kamtapuri Progressive Party or Greater Koch Behar Peoples Democratic Party, they were brutally suppressed and crushed through the administrative and police machinery of the State. The poor and backward Rajbangshis and Koche could not fight against the mighty majority communities in their struggle against this injustice, suppression and exploitation.
7) The domination by the majority and advanced community of West Bengal, in fact, started immediately after independence. Dr. B.C. Roy, the then Chief Minister of the state cleverly and cunningly manipulated the Census Data of 1951 through mis-use of administrative power and authority. The composite Gorkha (Nepalese) communities were divided into different sub-castes and the whole Nepali / Gorkha were shown only about 20% of district population. As a consequence of this deceit, Gorkhas were shown as minority when a demand was placed on linguistic basis before State Re-organization Commission for a separate state comprising Darjeeling district and Dooars. This demand neither was considered. After vehement opposition and protest against the decision of the State Govt to introduce Bengali language as second language in the secondary schools in Darjeeling hills, when a bill on Nepali language was placed in state assembly for debate. Dr B C Roy cited the same logic of Nepali language being minority in Darjeeling hills.
Passing of Departmental written and oral examination in Bengali is compulsory for non-Bengali State and Central Civil Services officers posted in West Bengal for confirmation of their services and future promotion. A Nepali Cell under the District Magistrate, Darjeeling is in existence for teaching Nepali language to the Non-Nepali officers posted in the hills, but very few such officers have inclination and interest to learn the language. There is a communication gap between the public and district administration. Hence the public and office staff of different State Govt Departments in the district have a feeling of alienation from the administration. Nepali is an official language for use in the offices in Darjeeling Hills, but its application and usages are nil.
Various revenue and application forms of Land Reform Department are still in Bengali language causing immense official inconvenience and difficulties to the general public who can not read or write in this language in the hill areas. State Govt. still circulates important Govt Notifications and Govt Orders in Bengali which are un-intelligible to the Govt Officers and office staff. When such orders were once sent to an office of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, the Departmental Secretary returned back that order back to the concerned State Govt. Department with request to send an English version of that correspondence. Such is the state of neglect and callousness on the part of the State Govt towards the hill people.
8) Darjeeling hills once renowned for school and college education till 60s, had lost their pristine glory primarily due to apathy from the State Govt. No efforts of any sort are made to establish Engineering, Technical, Medical, Management and IT Colleges, Vocational Institutions in this region. Govt College and the Govt High School in Darjeeling hills were without regular Principal and Head Master for more than a decade leading to sharp deterioration in the standard and management of these educational institutions. Quite a large number of secondary schools in Darjeeling hills are waiting for recognition and up-gradation for 20 years from the Education Department of State Government. Establishment of additional colleges is the need of the hour to meet requirement for graduate and post- graduate education. There are innumerable examples of such neglect by the State Govt. in the field of education and culture.
9) Two main source of economic activities of Darjeeling and Dooars viz tea and tourism are virtually in shambles. Closures of tea gardens especially in Dooars areas have resulted in rampant unemployment and starvation and the exodus of human trafficking. There is no attempt and sincerity by the State Govt and Tea Board to establish any trade hob or industry for value- addition of tea to improve the economic health of Darjeeling Tea Industry. World famous tourist destination Darjeeling is suffering from lack of basic infrastructural facilities in terms of road, drinking water, innovations and diversification in tourism industry. The focus of the State Govt appears to promote other unknown regions like Rasikbeel in Cooch Behar, Ayodhya Hills in Bankura and other places in the name of equality.
10) Mal, Mateli and Nagrakata Blocks of Jalpaiguri District are among the territories annexed by the British India from the kingdom of Bhutan through the Treaty of Sinchula of 1865. There are affinity between the people of Darjeeling hills and these regions geographically, historically, linguistically, socially and culturally. These areas were previously under Darjeeling Parliamentary Constituency. In order to weaken the Gorkha unity politically under the garb of delimitation of Parliamentary Constituency, the majority community with their administrative control and political might detached Mal, Mateli and Nagrakata Blocks with Gorkhas in majority and included them in Jalpaiguri Parliamentary Constituency. Instead Chopra and Islampur constituencies of West Dinajpur district were kept with Darjeeling Constituency. As a result of this cunning, clever and deceitful maneuver, the Gorkhas and Hill people have no say in the election of a Member of Parliament in the subsequent elections. It was a clever move of far- reaching implication resulting in the complete political alienation of the Gorkhas. However, in any way, the Gorkhas and the Adibasis MPs or MLAs in limited number virtually will have no voice or strength to represent their respective communities either in the Parliament or in the State Assembly.
11) When the demand for seperate state of Gorkhaland is made on the ground of backwardness and deprivation, Ashok Bhattacharya- Urban Development and Municipal Affairs Minister from Siliguri and other CPM leaders of West Bengal point out that in terms of Human Development Index, Darjeeling district is in the fourth position in the State and further added that this district is developed more than other districts like Purulia, Birbhum etc. but it is Siliguri sub division and not the hill sub divisions which had developed in the last twenty years. Gorkhas and other hill tribe are hard working, industrious, non-complaining, honest, sincere and enterprising. The contribution of the State Govt. in the economic upliftment of the people of this region is virtually nil. The Annual Budget of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council which was entrusted under DGHC Act of 1988 for socio-economic development of three hill Sub-Divisions of the district was mere Rs 44.00 crores (Rs 22.00 crores each from the State and Central Govts) for the year 2007-08 whereas the budget for Siliguri Municipal Corporation alone for the same financial year was Rs 104.33 crore. Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong Municipalities on the other hand are languishing for lack of fund for developmental activities. Sikkim State with almost the same population of Darjeeling district had budget of Rs 5221.11 crores during 2007-08 financial year.
12) The Trans- Himalayan regions extending from Arunachal in the east and Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir in the west are much backward economically, socially, educationally compared to their counter-parts of the states in the plain areas. In order to remove this regional imbalance, the Govt of India in early 70s had initiated Accelerated Hill Areas Development Programme with additional financial assistance from the Centre. A separate Department of Hill Affairs was established by the State Govt to implement this programme. For strange reasons, the State Govt. then decided to institute Siliguri- Jalpaiguri Development Authority for Siliguri Sub- Division and Jalpaiguri District. Siliguri sub division gets a lion’s share of fund from these agencies. Ashok Bhattacharjee, MLA from Siliguri and the Chairman of SJDA makes regular announcements through press and electronic media about the inauguration of host of Projects like New Township, Satellite Township, and construction of 4th Mahananda Bridge, Food Park, Dry Port and Tea Parks etc. in Siliguri Sub-Division
North Bengal districts are considered backward in comparision to South Bengal districts in West Bengal. So the State Govt took a policy decision to constitute North Bengal Development Council to fill these critical gaps in the development of these districts. The Chief Minister is the chairman of North Bengal Council with other members consisting of MPs, MLAs, District Magistrates, and different Engineering Departments. Not a single pie is allotted to three Hill Sub-Divisions of Darjeeling district from North Bengal Development Council whereas Siliguri Sub- Division of this district receives the fund to execute the schemes. There are none including the District Magistrate of Darjeeling to plead for allotment of fund to Darjeeling hills. The plea and justification of Minister from Siliguri is that these Hill Sub-Divisions receive fund from Hill Affairs and DGHC. Siliguri sub division is, therefore, the beneficiary from both SDJA and North Bengal Development Council. Everybody is aware that for all practical purpose DGHC is the truncated Zilla Parishad only. Does it then mean that three Hill Sub – Divisions of Darjeeling district are not part of North Bengal and West Bengal? It is among glaring example of discrimination and step-motherly treatment of the State Govt.
In addition to annual budget, a district receives fund from other agencies and Central Govt under different developmental programmes and Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) to augment their financial resources. In respect of Darjeeling district such funds are normally sub-allotted by the District Magistrate to Siliguri sub divisions only. Diversion of fund in the past under Hill Development was done by the District Magistrate and the Divisional Commissioner by virtue of their ex-officio post of Deputy Secretary and the Secretary respectively in Hill Affairs Department. Funding in the construction of Kanchanjunga Stadium, establishment of food processing unit- Kanchan etc in Siliguri are some of the instances of diversion of fund meant exclusively for the developmental activities in Darjeeling Hills. So the pace and scope of development in hill sub division and Siliguri sub division of Darjeeling district are not the same. It is tilted obviously in favour of Siliguri. Hence the higher position of Darjeeling district on HDI is not reflective of the development of Darjeeling hills.
13) Col. Dalton and Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee, both renowned historians and linguists had mentioned that Kirats were the original inhabitants of the present day North Bengal, Terai and Dooars. T. Namgyal, the Late Chogyal of Sikkim, in his book “History of Sikkim”, had stated that Limbu, Mangar and Lepchas (all constituents’ community of Gorkha) were the inhabitants of the region before the creation of the kingdom of Sikkim. Many people have misconception about the connotation of the word “Gorkha”. It comprises all the communities like Rai, Gurung, Tamang, Chettri, Newar, Mangar, Limbu, Sherpa & Lepchas etc living in Nepal, Sikkim, Dehra Dun, Simla, Bhakshu, Kangra, Bhutan, Assam and other parts of India. They are just like Bhattacharjee, Banerjee, Biswas, Sarkar, Dutta, Maity, Bhuiya, Mishra, Patra etc who are similar communities of Bengali ethnicity.
The present day Rajbangshis and Koche communities residing in Dinajpur, Rangpur, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Bihar are also sub -sects of Kirat. Jalpaiguri and the adjoining areas were called Kirat Bhumi in the earlier days. They had embraced Hinduism around the fifteenth century when Koche Kings converted themselves into Hindus just to enhance their social status. Rajbangshis and Koche of these regions are not traditionally Bengalese, their language and customs are different but due to their backwardness Rajbangshis and Koche had no alternative but to adopt Bengali language and culture. Magh tribals of Arakan Hills of Myanmar, like Barua, Mutsudhi who had migrated to Bengal and Bangladesh & Chattagong, Rajbangshis and Koche people too are completely Bengalised due to cultural hegemony of the advanced and educated Bengali community. Toto of Toto Para in Jalpaiguri district are akin to Gorkhas and Tribal people culturally and socially. They are considered to be a vanishing tribe and are also on the verge of loosing of their distinct identity. They can speak and understand Nepali language but they have no alternative but to learn Bengali in primary and secondary schools. Instead of their original typical Toto Tribal names, these days their names are Chittaranjan Toto, Sandeep Toto etc and very soon they will be completely Bengalised like the Magh, Rajbanshis and Koche tribes. It is an instance of cultural hegemony.
14) As per Darjeeling-Terai Settlement Report of 1872 published by the Government in 1898, Siliguri was inhabitated at that period mostly by tribal people, Gorkha, Rajbangshis and Musalman. At that time Bengalis were virtually non-existent in Siliguri Sub-Division of Darjeeling District.
Many people of the state including that of Siliguri Municipal Corporation do not know that George Mahabert Subba of Gorkha League was the first Chairman of Siliguri when it was converted into a Municipality. He was also the first Member of Legislative Assembly of West Bengal elected from the present day Siliguri Assembly Constituency as Gorkha League candidate in the election of 1952.
15) It is a misconception among many Indians that the Gorkhas are the immigrants from Nepal. Majority of Gorkhas had come with their lands consequent upon the Treaty of Sugouli of 1815 between East India and Nepal and the Treaty of Sinchula between Bhutan and British India in 1865. Rest had migrated during large scale tea and cinchona plantation by the British in Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars areas during the second half of 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century. Some had migrated during conversion of Darjeeling into health sanatorium, construction of Hill Cart Road and railways tracts for Darjeeling Himalayan Railways between Siliguri and Darjeeling. The executions of these works were completed by the end of the 19th Century and this migration process started to decrease due to lack of further scope of employment. By the time of signing Indo-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty between India and Nepal in 1950, job opportunities in plantation and development works had saturated. The Nepalese of Nepal instead preferred to move to Delhi and other metropolitan cities of India where the avenues for employment were available. As a matter of fact, these receding processes of migration to India in this part of the country was reversed from sixties when the unemployed and educated youth of Darjeeling Hills started to move to Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim for employment for want of such scopes and opportunities in West Bengal. It is, therefore a wrong notion that the Indo-Nepal Treaty of 1950 facilitated the immigration of Gorkhas under provisions of reciprocal movement of citizens of two countries. On the contrary, the Indian immigrants to Nepal could even occupy the prestigious post of President and other important portfolios in the present democratic government of Nepal while the same is unthinkable for the Gorkhas in Bengal or other parts of the country. There was large scale influx of the Bengalese into West Bengal and elsewhere after Independence and Bangladesh War of 1971. it had completely changed the demography of Terai, Dooars and Siliguri sub-division. This immigration had largely been encouraged and facilitated by the establishment and the continuance of the Department of Refugee, Relief and Rehabilitation by the Government of West Bengal with availability of fund to provide them with rehabilitation packages like setting up refugee settlement camps, construction of colonies, roads, drinking water etc. This department is still functioning now for more than 50 years and has not yet out-lived its utility.
16) The contribution of Gorkhas in the Freedom Movement of the country is not properly documented. They too had roles and contribution in the Independence struggle. These days Roads, Buildings, Institutions etc are named / renamed in the names of freedom fighters of different communities of the country but unfortunately it is not done for the Gorkha freedom fighter except the installation of a statue of Martyr Durga Malla in the premises of Parliament House in New Delhi. Many people of this country are not aware about the role played by the Gorkhas in the escape of Subash Chandra Bose from India in 1941. It was the Gorkha Kharka Bahadur Bista and his three other Gorkha colleagues who had organized the escape from his Elgin Road residence at Kolkata to Afghanistan and then to Germany. Kharka Bahadur Bista and his associates were killed by the British guards while providing cover firing to Subash Chandra Bose at Afghan border in the chilly night of January 1941. The Gorkhas constituted about 40% of the Indian National Army of Netaji. They had sacrificed their lives for the security of the country during Chinese, Bangladesh and Kargil Wars. Four Gorkhas of Darjeeling District were present in the squad of National Security Guard (NSG) during fight against the terrorists in Mumbai attack on 26th Nov 2008.
Inspite of these facts, there is still an identity crisis for the Indian Gorkhas. They are sometime called immigrants from Nepal though they are living as Indians for generations. The creation of Gorkhaland will definitely provide us the identity and security as Indians. It will also provide a national security and put a halt to the illegal Bangladeshi infiltration in the region. It is already a matter of concern from the view point if national security from the terrorists attacks.
17) Bangalese is one of the most advanced communities in the whole of the country. They were so even during the British rule in the field of education, administration, economic development and industry, literature, culture, politics, medical and scientific spheres. They were in the forefront of Independence Movement against the British from the beginning of 20th Century. During that period, the Gorkhas and the tribals brought by the British from Chottanagpur plateau were working in tea gardens of Dooars as labourers, agricultural farmers, or illiterate labourers. As such there could not be comparision of any sort between the Bengalese on one side and Gorkhas or other tribals (Adibasis) on the other. When such groups of people on unequal footing are put together in the socio-economic system of democratic form of Govt, the pace of development cannot be equal inspite of the best efforts of the Govt. There will be regional imbalance. It is the inherent anomaly of the democratic set-up of governance. Hence, it is logical to develop a feeling of deprivation, inequality, apathy and grudge among the backward communities against the ruling majority community. It is now the state of affairs in Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars areas inhabitated mostly by the Gorkhas and Adibasi community. The fragile and volatile situation in hills is largely due to the cascading effects of the Left Fronts’ step- motherly treatment of the people of Darjeeling hills, Terai, and Dooars.
18) Below the façade of “Bhadra Lok” culture, the Bengalese are as communal, chauvinistic and parochial as any ultra-extremist groups functioning in some states of the country. Bengal’s ruling Marxists are Bengalese first and Marxists later. Previous Chief Minister of West Bengal, Shri Jyoti Basu’s approach and attitude to handle the Gorkhaland movement of mid-80s was considered extremely racist and parochial. It hurt and distressed the sentiments and self - esteem of Darjeeling hills Marxists so much that they decided to break away from the Parent CPM party to form an independent political outfit, Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM) - a rare case of revolt by the veteran and committed Gorkha communists.
19) The neighbouring state of Sikkim, which was much backward than Darjeeling hills at that time of its merger with Indian Union in the year 1975, has made a phenomenal all-round development and advancement in education, health, social services, tourism, human resources and infra-structural improvement. It has again created regional imbalance between Sikkim and Darjeeling Hills with the possibility of law and order problems. This is the glaring instances of what wonders can happen with statehood with similar socio-economical environmental and geographical situations.
Sikkim state is a member of North-East Council. The definition and process of North East will be complete only with the creation of Gorkhaland. Darjeeling hills Terai, and Dooars are the region left out for the formation of a state while the rest of the territories in the western part annexed by the British India are from Nepal by the Treaty of Sugowli of 1815 now are the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal. The Jews were historically persecuted all throughout the world till the creation of their country- Israel under the Zionist Movement of David Ben-Gurion. They are now free from harassment, persecution and humiliation in the World. Now they lived with their heads held high. The Indian Gorkhas also have been facing the similar situations in Assam and other North-Eastern states. In the same context, thousands of Bhutanese of Nepalese origin were driven out suddenly during ethnic cleansing by Bhutan though many of them had valid citizen certificates and land revenue documents. As a result of this action they were forced to take temporary shelters in the Dooars areas adjacent to Bhutan borders. But in quick sweep, the Govt. of West Bengal hired hundreds of state and private buses and transported these refugees in utter confusion and helplessness to the river bed of Mechi in in-human manner across Indo-Nepal border at Kankervita. Under clause 7 of Indo-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty, 1950, citizens of both the countries are allowed to enter, reside and do business without any pass-port and visas in Nepal and India. Even if we presume that those evicted Bhutanese refugees of Nepalese origin were not Bhutanese citizen, then those allegedly Nepalese had the right under the provision of the said treaty to remain in India. In sheer violation of the provisions of Indo-Nepal Treaty of 1950, those Bhutanese refugees were deported by the State Govt causing International socio-political problems for both Nepal and Bhutan. But when thousands of Bangladeshis infiltrate into India illegally, especially in different parts of West Bengal neither they are deported nor any efforts are ever made by the State Govt to identify and to push them back to Bangladesh. The Director General of Border Security Force, Mr. S. K. Mishra had candidly admitted that majority of Bangladeshis coming to India with valid passport or visa do not return back to Bangladesh. Whenever attempts were made in the past by the states of Maharastra or Delhi to deport them after proper verification, hue and cry was made by the CPM MPs of Bengal and other political parties against this move protesting that Bengali speaking citizens are unnecessarily discriminated harassed and victimized. It is well known fact that there is an efficient machinery and mechanism in West Bengal to issue ration cards and voters identity cards by the political parties in power to those illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators to convert them into loyal and dependable vote bank and to pursue politics of demographic hegemony. No doubt that these illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators have become a matter of serious concern and wory for national security of India.
20) During Kargil War in 1999, 25 numbers of Gorkhas soldiers from Darjeeling district alone sacrificed their lives for the defence of the country. When it was reported that one Sangram Gosh also died in that War on 10th June 1999, a condolence motion was moved in West Bengal State Assembly on 11th July 1999. But later on it turned out that Sangram Gosh is not dead but alive. Unfortunately no mention was made by the State Govt in State Assembly or elsewhere about the Gorkhas who sacrificed their lives for the security of the country. Such is the height of discrimination, neglect and apathy against the Gorkhas in West Bengal. Step motherly treatment by successive State Govt. since Independence coupled with neglect, and discrimination have left the Gorkhas angry, frustrated and desperate.
21) That is why, we the Gorkhas want and need Gorkhaland for our identity, self -respect and security. Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Chairperson Standing Committee of Home Affairs, Govt. of India during hearing process of the review of Sixth Schedule Bill had stated….. “… we were under the initial impression that some separatist will come forward to demand Gorkhaland… but in fact their demand is for an identity as Indian which they feel can be achieved by having state of their own…. They say “We are Indians, accept us as Indians….”
22) The demand for separate state for the Gorkhas and the hill people started in the year 1907 is much older than the formation of the state of West Bengal in 1947. There was not a separate state of the Bengalese in the history of India. The exact origin of the word Bangla or Bengal is unknown, though it is believed to be derived from Dravidian – speaking tribe Bang. Territory popularly known Banga was the region south of the Ganges and Padma Rivers only. The Bengalese is very proud of their “Sonar Bangla”. It is in fact the territories mostly around Dhaka, Khulna, Barishal, and others adjoining the river Padma (Padda-Ganges) of the present days Bangladesh. Most of the immigrants Bengalese are still nostalgic about their “Pukur” (fish pond), Padda Nadir’s Elish Machh (Hilsa fish), Paddy field & rice and “Narkol Gachh” (Coconut trees) of “Sonar Bangla”. Had it not been the persistent efforts of late Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, one of the nationalist founder members of erstwhile Jana Sangha, the state of West Bengal also would have been the part of East Pakistan or Bangladesh. Even during British rule there was not a State of Bengal but Bengal Presidency only. It has been re -iterated many times that due to unfortunate incident in history that the territories obtained by the British in 1835 from the Rajah of Sikkim and the areas annexed form the kingdom of Bhutan in 1865 were kept under the administrative jurisdiction of Rajshahi Division just for the sake of convenience only. At the time of Bengal partition in 1905, these areas were tagged with Bhagalpur Division of Bihar for the same reason. Thus, the proposed area of Gorkhaland was never a part of “Banga” and hence the question of “Banga Bhanga” raised by CPM and all other political parties in particular and Bengalis in general does not arise at all. In the “White Paper” of 1986 signed by Shri Jyoti Basu, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal and all other Political parties it is admitted that Darjeeling District and Terai Dooars were part of Sikkim and Bhutan.
23) At this moment all the forces against Gorkhaland keeping aside their political ideologies are busy in mobilizing their resources, power and intellect under the umbrella of 3M – Manpower, Machinery, and Media. Manpower includes Amra Bengali, Bangla-O Bangla Bhasha Bachao Samity, Jana Jagaran Manch, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and its left allies, all political parties of Bengal and social organization. The political party in power and its administrative machinery including the police are hell bent not to allow the supporters of Gorkhaland to hold any peaceful rallies and meetings in Terai and Dooars areas on the pretext of law and order problems. Their main apprehension was the spread and consolidation of influence, strength and control of the region by Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha. The Gorkhas were denied to exercise their democratic rights in peaceful and non violent manner on very flimsy grounds. Both the print and electronic media are not behind this hectic campaign against the alleged division of Bengal. The vernacular newspapers like Gana Shakti, Aajkal, etc are in the fore- front in this regard. Bengali TV channels like Star- Anand and 24- Ghanta are organizing live shows regularly with Bengali participants and audience on “Bengalese against the Bengal Division” at Siliguri and Kolkata just like fixed cricket matches. All these shows demonstrate and manifest the true chauvinistic character of the Bengalese. It sometimes extends up to the English national channels dominated by the Bengali media personnel.
24) Anti-Gorkhaland had been conveniently ignoring to understand the reasons why the Gorkhas in Darjeeling Hills, Terai and Dooars, Rajbangshi (Kamtapuri) and Koche in North Bengal as well as the Adibasis in Midnapur, Purulia, Bankura and Bhirbhum are agitating against the State Govt of West Bengal for justice.
Now, the moot point in this connection is that the Gorkhas and Tribals of Darjeeling including other non-Gorkhas do not want to remain in West Bengal. We want separation from Bengal. We do not have any affinity with them ethnically, linguistically, socially, culturally, geographically, historically and attitudinally. We never had a shared common history with them. It is only due to historical mistake and for share administrative convenience the areas of proposed Gorkhaland state, comprising the annexed territories by the British India from the kingdom of Sikkim and Bhutan, were kept under the administrative jurisdiction of Bengal Presidency. This mistake can be rectified only with the creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland. We do not like the Bengal system. At the time of his death by hanging by the British , the martyr Khudiram Bose had implored “Ek bar Bidai De Ma…..” We also plead to West Bengal “Please bid us good-bye wishing us to do well…….” This demand is not communal or parochial. We will be a potential state in India.
25) At last, it will be perfectly relevant to quote certain paragraphs from an article captioned “Varieties of Chauvinism” of Shri Ram Chandra Guha published in the Telegraph newspaper on 28th March 2009…. Shri Guha is a renowned modern historian and also the author of the best seller “India After Gandhi”. He has quoted … “In fact, the sectarianism, chauvinism, groupism or would you call it “solidarity” of Bengalese is so notorious that even you will find it difficult to refute. In your own trade of journalism, see how one of them brings ten….. You cannot escape the bunch of Bengalese, always increasing in numbers. If they are weeded out, from writing, they will get in as photographers. One will bring the other. Then, there will be book reviews of the Bangalese by the Bengalese for the Bengalese. And the Bong (Bengali) photographer will make sure that his Page-3 snap have at least a couple of Bongs (Bengali). The Bong (Bengali) sub- editor will make sure that they are printed as prominently as possible. It is an open collaborative chauvinistic game that all of you (Bengalese) play ………. “It was in reference to the city of Mumbai
It is the same tactic & methodology applied by the Bengalese politicians, Police and Administrative Authorities to abate the illegal infiltration of their kith and kins from Bangladesh, erstwhile East Bengal or East Pakistan into India in general and West Bengal, Assam and Tripura in particular. The whole operation is being carried out in a planned and systematic manner resulting in a demographic change reducing the original inhabitant into minority. North Bengal, Tripura and bordering districts of Assam with Bangladesh are the glaring examples. Once they grab the political, economical, social, cultural and administrative powers and control, it is very difficult for the natives to raise any voice of protest and resistance against their exploitation repression and domination.
Hence, we want separation from Bengal.
Is some body hearing us?