Darjeeling Today: Talks of the State of Gorkhaland

Nepali Indians-Gorkhas-Want Their Own State Under the Union of India

By Swaroop Chetry

A routine day in Darjeeling begins with cabbies waiting for tourist to clamber on to their seats and rush to Tiger Hill to see the majestic Kanchanjunga change colour as the Sun rises from the far horizon, but nothing of this is quite happening now, the tourist numbers are thin and the people who are otherwise dependent on tourism are suddenly at loss, when I ask one of the taxi driver, he lamented things will all change for good once the State of Gorkhaland is created. This is the mood in the Darjeeling, people here seem to understand that this may be long drawn struggle and are ready to sacrifice and sustain. As the day progressed, the market starts to buzz with people buying essential commodities as nothing remains certain as when the next shutdown is imposed, evenings in Chuarasta is seemingly dull, interestingly there seems little of Government machinery functional, offices are either shut or the employ do not return to work voluntarily, only the traffic points are manned by unarmed police personnel obscure by the fact that many vehicle plying on the street bear Gorkhaland- registration.

Going by what is emerging as a major political and social upheaval in Darjeeling and the Dooars, the Govt. of West Bengal, visa-vis the Govt. of India is bound to have some sleepless night as to how to bring about an amicable solution to the decade old vexed issue of Gorkhaland, a homeland for the millions of Nepali speaking Indians settled in Darjeeling and its adjoining areas. This time around the agitation seems to embrace the Gandhian ideals of non violence and non cooperation, lead by Bimal Gurung and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. The eye sore is fast becoming a major headache for the West Bengal Government to contain with.

The genesis of this uprising dates back almost a century when the Nepali speaking population resented the move of the then East India Company to en-bloc the Hill tract and its adjoining areas to what is present Bihar for an administrative unit, which was later incorporated into the State of West Bengal this too with much reluctance of the then Leaders of All India Gorkha League, Kalimpong and parts of Dooars fostered from Bhutan. The present case of people’s movement in Darjeeling is primarily because of total failure to bring about desired change by Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council(DGHC) and its autocratic chief Subhas Ghising, the West Bengal Government also seems to miss out an opportunity to consolidate largely because of its inept handling and internal bickering within the communist party and the writers building about the healing touch which the people of Darjeeling needed most after the Gorkha National Liberation Front(GNLF) struggle for statehood ended.

With the DGHC accord, people’s expectation ran high but the paradigm shift eluded and remained a far fetch dream, the quality of living and basic services did not change for good, majority of people were pushed to the brink of suffocating poverty, compounded by the cultural isolation of the people in the Hills. All of it can act as super catalyst to ignite chain reaction which is now evident in the Darjeeling Hills.

In the last quarter of a century India has emerged as one of major Global Economic power house and this had in fact multiplied people’s aspirations, the idea to better achieve in life has also become a near reality for thousands of Nepali speaking Indians of Darjeeling and Dooars and more so if Governance is brought to their door steps. It may sound little absurd but the fact is people’s aspiration and development today in the Indian democratic context depends to an extend to the state which a person hails from, as state boundaries are all drawn on linguistic parameters, therefore the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland becomes pronounced, the Gorkhas and the Nepali speaking population otherwise remain vastly unrepresented in every spheres of decision making even in the state of West Bengal. The window of better hope and future is what fuels the present agitation of separate statehood.

In the realm of this demand there seems a section of the media and vested interest who would like to play the card of pan-Nepali movement which again is only a figment of imagination as is obvious that to cave out a state of greater Nepal out of superior India is a bogey, one has to agree to cultural integration and cultural exchanges, but again cultural integration always transcends national and international boundaries as is seen in many vibrant cultures of India.

History has it, the treaty between the East India Company and the Raja Vikram shah of Nepal of 1815 lead to cessation of land between river Meitchee and river Teestah, from the Rajah of Nepal along with its subjects residing in this area. Census of 1871 shows the predominant population of Darjeeling are Nepalese, True that a small section of this population is migrant almost two century and beyond, it is also believed that a section of the Nepali speaking people once migrated from the princely state of Rajasthan and Maharastra during the Mughal invasion and forth, but one has to also examine the circumstances that propelled this migration, like all other migratory behavior of mankind this is no difference, in search of greener pastures and in case of Darjeeling the same people were amongst the first settlers.

The British and the East India Company, knowing the tenacity recruited the Nepali speaking people as foot soldiers to serve them and take control of all hostile territory, bringing them under a single administrative umbrella. Many were roped in as laborers to build new roads and cattle grazers, to cultivate crops primarily Tea in the Darjeeling and adjoining areas. With the socio economic fabric slightly improving the same people also started to participate in India’s freedom struggle, To name a few Dal Bahadur Giri, Bhaktabir Lama, Agam Singh Giri, Dambar Singh Gurung, Paras Mani Pradhan, and Ari Bahadur Gurung who later became the member of the constituent assembly of free India. The war memorial at Batasia Loop speaks volumes of those decorated soldiers who laid their life for the nation.

The cry for a homeland for majority of the people irrespective of caste and creed in Darjeeling is high pitched, but what remains to be seen is will the Government of West Bengal and Government of India agree to carve out a new state from the present map of West Bengal, ask Bimal Gurung and GJM, they are confident, only time will tell, but for the people of Darjeeling it is in their heart soon to be addressed.

Chetry_swaroop@rediffmail.com

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25 thoughts on “Darjeeling Today: Talks of the State of Gorkhaland”

  1. But will Gorkhaland be worth the struggle? How would that manage it? And what difference would it make in the lives of ordinary people. What difference did it make in Nepalese peoples’ lives after much acclaimed and celebrated ‘Loktantra’ came. What difference did it make to ordinary Nepalese that the king left. There were some changes obviously but did it really bring any significant changes for the better? Did it bring prosperity to people? Isn’t it the same old fights among hundred mice in Nepalese politics.
    So, I wonder if this issue of nationalism or precisely independence is spread and misused by the few leaders for their own benefit. Because it is them who are the ones who are going to reap all the benefits. Feel free to criticize my idea if it needs to be done so.

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  2. Dear Reticent, you will have to live in darjeeling to understand what Gorkhland means to the people of Darjeeling. Just because Nepal is in a political mayhem does not mean that the people of darjeeling must cease to ask for statehood. Note that the gorkhaland movement was there even before Kind Tribhuavan came to power. Gorkhaland is our birthright and we shall have it.

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  3. India does treat Darjeeling like a hell outta India.. Struggle will be worthwhile because it’s only then Gurkhalandese will have independence to act their own ways!!!!!!!!!!!
    I belong to Darjeeling and I understand how important it is for my cause.

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  4. I have only once been in Darjeeling myself with a tibetan group and could feel a certain heaviness al around something gloomy and temorarily.
    It is difficult one moves around to better places but who has large family gets stuck. In Spain the independence just became terrorism. I think it is better to write and paint then become violent but I am just a buddhist woman and oppression is bad too. I think this is a blog about Nepal not we are attacking mother India as well? I like Dr Ambedkar movement and i know India used to do bad things to female buddhist nuns as well those hindu oppressors.

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  5. unity makes us stronger but I do not want to be associated with fighting people even in buddhism this is frequent business
    darjeeling or tarai maoist or nc either way who has patience with this

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  6. Hope Darjeeling doesn’t fall to these Nepalese gurkhalis.. They will just destroy it like they have their own country. I don’t understand why Nepalese want to go around creating their own little fiefdoms when they shown that they are clearly not capable of creating a minimally functioning state. Sorry, if this upsets you people, but its the truth.

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  7. Sad But True

    1. The grand view that many people seem to have of a liberated gorkhaland is in fact nothing bullying and coersion of people who only want to live in peace.

    2.As the state looks on rampant extortion goes on unchecked. Car owners had to pay for new registration plates to the party ( Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha) if their cars were seen without them the cars were stoned and burnt if they were seen sporting the new number plates the state seized them.

    3. All State and central government employees are forced to “donate” Rs 500 each every month for the ’cause’. All private enterprises have to do the same. Even small shops are not left untouched.

    4. At the rural level it is worse every house is forced to pay money as a monthly subscription. Every procession that floods the roads of darjeeling is filled with people who are forced to represen their homes. If they dont there is always the fear of what might happen. Sometimes the entire family has to go to make up the crowd strength. Dont believe what you guys see in the media. Not many of the participants are there of their own free will. They have been forced to be present and not only that hey have to pay for their own transport as well!!

    5. The party was able to terrorise the people into wearing their cultural dress for a month by force.
    It is unimaginable how such going ons were allowed in a democracy. Or maybe the grand plan is for a total separate country next!!!

    6. Under the garb of Gender equality the party has managed to rope in uneducated bored and fustrated women who have not seen much in life. These women are carted by truckloads to various places to creat a disturbance. Freed from the usual inhibitions that a normal ife demands of a gorkha woman these women let loose their fustrations by screaming slogans and behaving in a manner that would shame any decent gorkha woman. It is a bizzare show of releasing of pent up fustration of women who are really disappointed in life with perhaps a drunk hausband or an unemployed husband or just general poverty in the face of uneducation and too big dreams. The youth in the rurals will rather remain unemployed than do a menial job or a job that brings in 500 to 600 a month. The common answer is who the hell will work of so less. There are others who after spending days in backbreaking labour take their hard earned money and buy clothes that are way way beyond their means.

    8. Take a walk around Darjeeling town and allone will see are clothes, shoes and more clothes shops. For a community that claims not to have much these people do dress far far better than most of the middleclass hardworking people in the rest of India. Even unemployed youths sport the fanciest of footwear and jeans!!
    There are just a few book shops on the other hand.

    9. Basically its a complete failure of the Indian government to understand that Gorkhas need to be dealt with very firmly. Only the British were able to do that. One has to understand that the new generation of gorkhas are lazy and easily corrupted and all they want is easy money! They do not even have enough brains though to hold a proper job!
    It is for the betterment of all these people that the government and the media ignore their demands as these people have NOTHING positive to contribute towards the country.

    6.The Misplaced pride of the gorkhas in their representation in the Indian army is all rubbish the largest number of soldiers in the indian army is from the punjab region and not the gorkhas of India. A sizeable portion of the gorkha regiments comprises of NEPALESE CITIZENS.

    7. As for the Tea industry the Gorkhas need not take undue pride in it as the tea gardens are all owned by non gorkhas . No gorkha is involved inany part of the export policies or the world market !

    8.In all the government of india has pampered these people with OBC status and collossal amounts of funds for the past 20years or so while the Gorkha Hill Council was functional. What were the returns for the country?? Crores were misused and the people are still where they were decades ago.

    9.The new party is formed of a break away group of the same old party that ruled the hills. Its the same shit but with a new name!

    10. Its a crying shame that all gorkhas have had to be lumped togthere as the lowest of the low due to the despicible acts of a terror group.

    11. It is time educated gorkhas from all walks of life stand up against such atrocious people and show the world what a true gorkha is all about. Show the country if the books written about the gorkhas were only fairy tales or if the spirit still lives on in at least a few good men.

    12 LOYALTY THE STANDING VIRTUE OF EVERY GORKHA It is about being loyal to the country first and being loyal to its ideals of democracy. It is about what we can do for this country and not demmand she do something for us.

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  8. Totally agree. Where are the Gorkhas headed led by a moron for whom the gandhian Dandi march means carrying Dandis (Big sticks). Dandi is a small village in Gujurat! A local paper carried photos of the morcha supporters carrying big sticks and proudly proclaiming the march as Dandi march.

    As for the womens representation in the central commitee, it is dismal. The women are only used as fronts to prevent the police from taking very strong action. Where were the GNWO , the womens organization in the previous agitation? To the best of my knowledge there was only one lady councillor while all the rest were men! Dont forget Bimal Gurung was one of them!!

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  9. the struggle and insult which the nepalis have faced till now will b ended when everyone will come to know about what nepalis can do
    if gorkas of india r not indians then bengalis of india r also not indians
    its like tit for tat.
    when adivasis put 2,3 days bandh ,government does not do anything but gorkha puts one day strike there is protest by gov.
    in duars when innocent nepalis r beaten,houses were burned no police force was there
    in duars only nepalis houses were burned and robbed

    but nepalis still did not touch any house of either bengali or adivasi.
    no protection was there in duars

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  10. What did u expect ? That the adivasis who love their maato as much as the gorkhas claim to love their land would let Bimal Gurung’s Thugs just walk in and demand the ADIVASI LAND too as a part of Gorkhaland.?????

    U 2 should study history Bangladesh was once East Pakistan that was once, not very long ago HINDUSTAN. Wake upand smell the coffee guys how can u say that bengalis r not indians ?? Gorkhae Bhai AAAPHNU MOORKHATA NA DARSAU.

    Bimal Gurung is a Terrorist in the making and the demand for this Gorkhaland is only a step away from athe demand for a new nation and all hell breaks loose….. such traitors should be hanged publicly. I for one will hope for such a day 2 come. I am a GORKHA but I am a proud INDIAN first . Hang all traitors who go against our national integrity. JAI HIND

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  11. Nepalis had no business demanding duars, the home land of the Adivasis as part of Gorkha land.
    Too many law breakers around Darj. Police should take stronger action.

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  12. Every Nepali nationalist supports the Gorkhaland movement.First step will be statehood within the Indian Union.By 2050 Both gorkaland and Sikkim must be re-united with The Republic of Nepal.
    To our brothers in Gorkaland.

    LONG LIVE GORKHALAND.

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  13. hheheh Look at this stupid gorkhalis.. They have absolutely no record of having run any sort economically viable state or entity, the country of their origin is a complete mess despite the enormous tourism and hydro electricity potential, and they still want to go around trying to grab other people’s lands. Listen, you fools…
    As long as don’t work hard and make sacrifices your benefit of your own country, forget the United Nepal, no one will even take you seriousily. Your only prospect will be to work as indentured laborers in the gulf or as prostitutes in Mumbai.

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  14. hi. to al the blogger.s

    Its really mind distrubing to read these blogs, especially from people who haven’t lived in Darjeeling and dont know what shit happens there. These ppl are so ignorant and dont want to know whats happening up in the hills. These racists only see nepalis revolting against the govt. Hey these people are indians just like you and me even more. Have you seen 15th August celebration in the darjeeling district. its far far superior than any celebration in all of india. Do you have the whole city of mumbai, delhi, calcutta, chennai, gathering together to sing the national anthem on independence day?
    Have you ever tried to understand why all this is happening? Please understand the people of darjeeling are not against India. They are against the atrocities and oppression of the bengal government. I would like to ask is it wrong to demand for self respect and freedom to live with dignity.
    If the west bengal govt really cared for darjeeling then why isn’t there proper electricity, water or even a proper hospital in darjeeling. The plight of people living here in darjeeling is really sad. Rarely do any funds reach darjeeling from the government hence development is zero. The infrastructure is same as it existed in british raj. Why hasnt any development taken place?
    Hey all you ignorant fools/ bloggers from the plains, people from darjeeling have every right to call India their own as you and me. They have struggled hard for the independence of india and continue to safeguard our borders from foreign oppressors. kindly read the article. The make comments…….
    Let me introduce myself i am Prakash from Mumbai and was in darjeeling for almost 13 years. I was a student in darjeeling when the first agitation happened. Well its was the most brutal gruesome incident i had seen all my life. I saw indian police brutality to the limit. Women and Daughters were raped in front of husbands and fathers. Innocent youngster were litterally flocked,totured and humilated like animals at chow rasta. i belive the ppl of darjeeling have the right to freedom from the atrocities of the bengal government. what would you as an individual do when yr mother and sister are being raped by the government. would you stand to fight it or take it as it comes as a coward?
    hey Ap jaybom you ignorant fool, without the brave Gorkhas of darjeeling you would have to put your empty head up your arse in shame for kargil if it wasnt for the Brave Gorkhas who laid down their lives without a question. and one more thing Nepal is a different country and darjeeling is in a different country so dont take the pain to compare. the only common thing between them is the language.One more thing dont demean any person by calling them indentured labourers of the gulf or prostitutes of mumbai. cause u have more prostitutes and labourers belongin to other languages in mumbai and the gulf coountries. It is racists like you that makes true citizen alien to their own motherland. Let me remind you Nepalese have made great sacrifices for racists like you so that a racist like you are safe home with your family. otherwise we would still be licking the british arse like we always do.The people of darjeeling are not grabing other people’s land they are just asking what belongs to them.
    What have the People of darjeeling asked only “FREEDOM FROM OPPRESSION AND TO LIVE LIFE ACCORDING TO ONE’S OWN TERMS”.
    So Ap jaybom dont make a mockery of the people of darjeeling. First get your info right.

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  15. Dear writer,

    I read your artical about the Gorkhaland Movement in Darjeeling. I have been to there a couple ot times while i was in Nepal. During my visit, I found out that most of the people spoke Nepali language and I was quite surprise to see that..

    History tells us that Darjeeling was a part of unified Nepal and it has the full right to be an independent state like Sikkim. I personally support this movement and strongly believe that every people has the right to freedom. The Government of India , thru West Bengal, should respect the bravery of the Gurkhas by fulfilling their demand to make Darjeeling, Dooers etc. a federal state.

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  16. india must return nepals terrotary as sugauli treaty is no more.If india is not listning our request then we can say india broke international law of peace. It wants war again. Government of india if u nepal is poor and small country then stop looking with your evil eye. I accept nepal is poor but nepali are not poor. We all openly request that you must return our lands which is legally approved.

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  17. yes anand .you are right .sugauli treaty lost nepals lovely land and father ,mother ,sister…,etc. but that treaty was with british not with india. after india got indipendent all the treaties were disagreed by both government india-nepal. then legally those lands (to the east up to bangladesh and to the west near kasmir) must be returned by indian government. but one thing is that why india annexed greater nepal and broke our brotherhood relationship.lets join hand together brothers to be reunited.

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  18. eklabya ,i support urs view.I am nepali and u are nepali. but only one thing is different that you are made slaves in greater nepals land and i am here respected in small new nepal. but we have same father same home but our relative india has captured our land of hills and himalayas along with my family.

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  19. Dear all supporters
    Here, I am neither a politician, writer nor any person who could be a leader in future days but only a citizen who really miss and missed family member long time ago; I am so sad for that and can’t forgive them who had been responsible for that. Here I am sad because I miss a member of my family; here I am sad because I am being alone but worried about that why some of the evil don’t want to let us to leave in peace in our own place?
    We have so many issues with India even in these days. You Indians are making problems in south part of Nepal, you people are broking boarder rules, and you people are grabbing our lands still like 19 century but don’t forget we are not like Pakistani. Here, I want to say to those people who are leading the country to solve this problem as soon as possible and if you can’t allow us to fight then they will knows about gorkhas ; how you cut and eat our enemies. How do you think it “dhoti’? It will come soon be ready and take off your “languti”.

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