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Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Binay Tamang
Darjeeling: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Binay Tamang alleged that in his speech in the Parliament on Monday, Darjeeling MP Raju Bista purposefully steered clear of the word Gorkhaland. Tamang further urged Bista to table a Bill for the separate state of Gorkhaland. Bista had raised the demand for "a permanent solution to the long pending demands of the people of Darjeeling Hills, Terai and Dooars under Matters of Urgent Public Importance (Rule 377)," during his speech in the Parliament.

"I am most hopeful that the government will expedite the process of finding a permanent political solution so that people can live in peace and prosper," stated Bista. "Why the jugglery of words? Permanent political solution for the Gorkhas unequivocally means creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland. He purposefully avoided the word Gorkhaland," alleged Tamang. The GJM president further stated that the Tribal minister's answer to Bista's question regarding grant of tribal status to the Gorkhas is a clear indication that the government has not taken any concrete decision on granting Scheduled Tribe status to the Gorkha sub-communities.

"The Gorkhas have been taken for a ride once again by the BJP with their false promises," alleged Tamang. He has also shot a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stating that the time was ripe for BJP to fulfill their electoral promise, riding on which they have won the Darjeeling Parliamentary seat thrice. The three demands of the Gorkha community include creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland (permanent political solution), conferring tribal status to 11 Gorkha sub-communities and declaring all Gorkhas as protected class or indigenous people for the purpose of National Register of Citizens. Tamang also urged the Prime Minister to table a Bill for the creation of Gorkhaland in the winter session of the Parliament, which commenced on Monday.

Darjeeling MP Raju Bista
Darjeeling: Darjeeling Lok Sabha MP Raju Bista on Monday raised the issue of finding a permanent political solution to the long-pending political demand of the people from Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars region. Speaking in Lok Sabha, Bista raised the issue twice – once in Zero Hour and also under Rule 377 which permits the members to raise issues of urgent public importance.
In a release, the MP said, “Today, I raised the demand for a permanent solution to the long-pending demands of the people of Darjeeling Hills, Terai and Dooars under matters of urgent public importance in Parliament.”
In his speech under 377, he informed Parliament, “The people of Darjeeling Hills, Terai, and Dooars have a long-pending political demand which erupted as the Gorkhaland statehood movement of 1986-88, 2013-14, and again in 2017.”
“The government has already experimented twice by creating semi-autonomous bodies -- DGHC and GTA, both of which failed to address the demand for a permanent political solution to the long-pending demand for a separate state,” Bista said, adding: “From the perspective of national-security, the area lies in the critical chicken-neck region that connects the Northeast with mainland India. Today, the region is vulnerable to illegal infiltration and severely lacks in development and economic progress.”
“Through this august house, I once again request the government to intervene in the matter and initiate tripartite talks involving the Union government, West Bengal government, and local representatives to find a permanent political solution to the long-pending demands of the people at the earliest,” he said.
Bista added, “I am most hopeful that the government will expedite the process of finding a permanent political solution so that people here can live in peace and prosper.”

Plea to save Mother EARTH
There used to be a rumbustious set of people who lived in an enchanting place filled with wonder and light. These people prospered in almost every aspect of life. Although they had no money, they were still happy as they dwelt in an area cordial to “FORESTS.” These convivial people got to enjoy something we people hardly get to see, “NATURE.”
The people saw the way water droplets reflect the light of the sun, as they quietly trickle, slowly and tenderly down the margins of the leaves.
The land experienced the magnificence of the somnolent little sprouts stealing the spotlight after their deep revolutionary sleep. The way the satisfying and rummaging breeze caused Nature to come to life as its soft touch caused the flowers, the blades of grass, the sweet sparkling leaves and the sturdy stems of the plants to dance rhythmically was like a reverie for the people of this place.

This vast land full of diversity experienced the splendid streaks caused by the most dazzling rainbow, of multi-colours, in the neverending sky.
The magical transformation of the forests as the sun dawns, waking up the dormant animals to stride into a new day, the serene singing of the lovely birds and the call of the wondrous land was like a serenade for the people.
The salvation of the living was dependent on the clear, sonorous and sparkling rush of the streams and rivers. The serene sight of the elegant rays of the yellow, orange, golden and red filled the atmosphere and caused the forests to look majestic, tinged with the lovely salubrious light of the sunset.
The people slept to the lovely elixir or sound of the forests. The rush of the wind on the leaves, the pouring of a distant river, the call of the wild and the lovely luminous moon and the twinkling stars were heard and seen in the forests of this beautiful land.
This may surprise you, but the land I am referring to is none other than my hometown…Darjeeling! I am referring to the time earlier when Darjeeling was in its pristine state.
During the time when Darjeeling was described as a lovely, beautiful forested land, when she was worthy of being called the ‘Queen of Hills’ … Darjeeling’s corrugated hills were beautiful until they were touched by the corrupt minds of humans. Our ancestors knew the true beauty of Darjeeling…her boundless Nature. They respected forests.
The people ruminated and knew why deforestation would be ruinous. “All of our exalted technological progress, civilization for that matter, is comparable to an axe in the hand of a pathological criminal”… said Albert Einstein once. As Einstein added, “modernization and globalization is killing progress.”
Darjeeling has now depleted to nothing but a polluted, horrifying place due to nothing but unruly means of so-called ‘progress.’ As my mother always tells me, “Anything created by the crumped up minds of man has its ill effects.”
Development washed over Darjeeling like a huge wave and took away with it her mystifying beauty, her plants, forests and love for humanity as well as Mother Earth.
Modernization turned flowers into smoke, forests into factories and shopping malls; modernization transformed the innocent and creative minds of people into dull, technology addicts.
People who once loved and respected forests and found happiness in what they had, now crave for money, ‘the root of all evil.’ They are now blinded by desire, which has led to corruption.
Jobs are now done by machines, thus destroying man’s livelihood.
Although, globalisation was started by man, for a good cause, and the well-being of the people, this has affected us differently.
Globalisation and modernisation enhanced medical facilities with qualified doctors and treatment for various diseases. Globalisation led to smart cities equipped with modern transport, metro trains and various other ways of making our lives easier. Due to globalisation people can communicate to distant places just by a tap on the phone.
But globalisation has its setbacks, as its ‘enhancing measures’ has led to deforestation, pollution, global warming and climate change.
Our race has progressed but have we stopped being selfish and thought about our dwindling Mother Earth? Sorrow, sadness, suffering and pain caused by diseases like climate change and global warming are engulfing our Mother.
We need to take action, we need to save our loving Earth quick before it’s too late. None of us would want our Mother to die. Please, I implore you take action, save her from this disastrous disease that we have created.
Save her from climate change.
Let’s put out this fire we have started and let’s join hands and do so. Every human who has contributed to globalisation and pollution must, and I hope will try, to be a change.
Let us all be pure gushing rivers of love, hope, peace and joy and let us all reunite and put out this fire caused by globalisation.
I want to see people from every caste, gender, age, religion and race reuniting as a family and start working towards a better tomorrow.
We can all be a part of agro-forestry, we can all use biodegradable materials, we can all use nonconventional sources of energy … We must say no to war and nuclear emissions. We can all embrace ecological farming and adopt personal, realistic eco-friendly measures. Thus, Together let’s touch and heal the barren lands, With our tender ever loving hands And give rise to a hope in the barren sands, The wellbeing of our future land! -Esther Zoe.

The author is a class-X student of Loreto Convent, Darjeeling.

Pritam Rai has won the title of North East Idol 2019
In what may be termed as a matter of great pride for Sikkim, a 26 year old Pritam Rai has won the title of North East Idol 2019, a singing reality show on Saturday.
The singer left the judges and audience spellbound with his performance in ” Breathless” during the grand finale held at DK Convention hall in Itanagar.

ai hails from Regu village in East Sikkim and he is pursuing BEd from distance education.
The other finalists were – Surajit Biswas ( Assam), Nikita Debnath ( Tripura), Jekke Bhai and Meenam Goi (Arunachal Pradesh).

The judges of the competition were Remanti Rai (singer from Sikkim) , Amit Paul (Indian idol fame) Biznoo Nabam (alegendary singer).

Bust of Former Bengal CM Bidhan Roy vandalized; Cong, TMC, Left blame BJP
After a bust of Bengal’s second chief minister and Congress stalwart Bidhan Chandra Roy was vandalized, a political storm has erupted in the state with the Congress, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Left accusing BJP of being “anti-Bengali” and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanding a probe to find out the real culprits.

The bust was vandalized at Mankar in East Burdwan district a day after BJP’s youth wing; the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha was accused of vandalism at the state Congress headquarters, also named after Bidhan Chandra Roy, in Kolkata.

Roy, a Bharat Ratna awardee, was a freedom fighter and served as Bengal’s chief minister from 1948 till his death in 1962. A legendary physician, Roy’s birthday July 1 is celebrated in the country as national doctor’s day. 

Following the vandalism, Congress workers put up a road blockade at Mankar. A case has been registered at Budbud police station but no one had been identified till Sunday evening.
“The vandalism of Bidhan Chandra Roy’s bust at Mankar and the spraying of black paint on the Congress office are nothing but an attack on Bengali culture. We express doubts about whether those who take electoral advantage by accepting the demand of separating Darjeeling from Bengal and feel happy with the exclusion of Bengali and inclusion of Gujarati as languages for joint entrance exam possess any trait of Bengaliness,” state Congress president Somen Mitra said.
Though Mitra did not name the BJP, the reference of Darjeeling and joint entrance exams makes it evident that BJP is their target.

“They have no idea about who Vidyasagar and Bidhan Chandra Roy are. How do those who have failed to become Bengali dream of ruling Bengal?” Mitra added.
Kolkata mayor and senior TMC minister Firhad Hakim, too, blamed the BJP. “Those who vandalized Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s bust in Kolkata and Lenin’s statue in Tripura are the ones behind the desecration of Bidhan Roy’s bust,” Hakim said.

BJP state unit chief Dilip Ghosh, however, denied the charges. “None of us could be involved in such an act. This is not our culture. We demand a thorough investigation to find out the real culprits,” Ghosh said.
Incidentally, the vandalism of Vidyasagar’s bust inside the Vidyasagar College campus in May 2019 created a political turmoil, with BJP and TMC blaming each other. In the following days, the TMC carried out a prolonged campaign against BJP and celebrated the twentieth century social reformer’s bicentenary year on a grand scale.

Over the past few days, BJP, its youth wing and its sister organisation for students, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (BJP), have been carrying out campaigns across Bengal, blaming the Left for the desecration of Swami Vivekananda statue on the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. They alleged that the Left proved itself to be “anti-Bengali” and “anti-Indian” by desecrating the statue of Vivekananda, one of Bengal’s greatest icons.
The Left, while denying any role behind the desecration of Vivekananda statue, pointed fingers at BJP for the vandalism of Roy’s bust.
“It must be the handiwork of those who demolished Lenin’s statue in Tripura and attacked Congress’ office in Kolkata. We demand that the state government should investigate it thoroughly and ensures stringent punishment for the culprits,” said Md. Salim, a politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

NRC issue -The Indian Gorkha perspective
As the push for a nation-wide National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise gets stronger, there are growing concerns among the Indian Gorkha community settled in various pockets across the country. The discussions are gaining more ground after Assam published its final NRC list on August 31, 2019, the process which was monitored by the Supreme Court of India. As reported by different media organisations, of the estimated 25 lakh Gorkhas living in Assam, about 1 lakh were excluded from the final list.
The reasons for the exclusion could be anything; from clerical mistakes, not able to furnish documents as per the cut-off year of 1971, or inability to establish relationship and family continuity. Meanwhile, the issue has provided enough fodder for the political leaders who see it as an opportunity to display their badge of political allegiance.
Organisations and leaders aligned to the ruling parties are promising that Gorkhas need not worry, while those in opposition are claiming that Gorkhas are the target in the whole exercise. Whatever their political compulsions are, it is time that the community comes together to discuss and find a way forward for the future of the Indian Gorkhas as a whole. The bigger concern is not about supporting or opposing NRC, but ensuring that the authorities in power understand the deep rooted history of the Gorkhas in India.
The NRC exercise, in essence, is for the benefit of our nation; to identify illegal infiltrators so that the country is secured. To dismiss the NRC exercise undertaken under the watch of the Supreme Court as a political agenda is naive, and to blindly support it because of any political compulsion is dangerous, especially for the Gorkha community.
The Gorkhas need to be wary of the exercise because we have always been seen as the ‘outsiders’ in the larger Indian context. For most people, it is easier to assume that the Gorkhas have come to India from Nepal, because we speak the same language, rather than try to understand the deep-rooted and complex history of the community. Although identified by their language and ethnicity, the Gorkhas living in different parts of India have their own unique history and its sense of identity with respect to the place they reside.

The Gorkhas of Darjeeling Hills, Terai, and Dooars

The history of Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars is complex, with multiple treaties between British India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and Tibet defining its pre-Independence status. This region was governed under various administrative regimens such as - Non-Regulated Areas, Scheduled District, Backward Tract and Partially Excluded Area. The Gorkhas of North Bengal are indigenous to the region and became part of the Indian Union along with the land, people, customs, and traditions.
The Gorkhas of North India
The Gorkhas of North India, namely Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and parts of Uttar Pradesh are as indigenous to the land as any other community there. As history speaks, the erstwhile Gorkha Kingdom extended up to Kangra in Himachal Pradesh. It was only after the Treaty of Sigauli 1816 that the borders were drawn between the British India and Nepalese Kingdom. There were no repatriation and the Gorkhas living in the territories were automatically absorbed in the land, the same way people of Indian ethnicity were absorbed in the Terai regions of Nepal.
The Gorkhas of North East
In documented history, the Gorkhas entered the North East as the British began to expand and penetrate into the resource-rich Northeast frontiers. The discovery of oil in Digboi, the coal mines of Meghalaya, the Anglo-Burmese Wars brought waves of Gorkha soldiers, agriculture workers, and labourers into the area. During the Anglo-Burmese war (1824-1826) the Gorkha soldiers formed an integral part of the British forces fighting to push back the Burmese troops advancing from the Northeast. The history of Gorkha settlement in the Northeast is well beyond 200 years and have contributed immensely in the socio-economic sphere of the region.
Soldiers who settled in India
Across the country, there are pockets of Gorkha people, especially the soldiers who chose to settle in India after retiring from their services. There are sizeable chunks of Gorkha people settled in UP, Jharkhand, Kashmir, Punjab, and even in southern Indian states. For the children of ex-servicemen, India provides good schooling, healthcare and better opportunities for the future.

Nepalese citizens who come in search of work

By virtue of the free borders and movement agreement between India and Nepal, many Nepalese citizens who come to India for work have also settled down in various cities across India. While many still hold their Nepali citizenships, there are others who have adopted India and have lived here for over two generations. Under the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016, they are today Indians like any other citizen.
The NRC process poses a huge challenge to the entire community as there is very little understanding of the socio-political history of the Gorkhas in the power corridors of Delhi. There is a story about a national leader who had visited Darjeeling some years ago and after seeing so many people with the trademark Dhaka Topi, speaking in Nepali, he supposedly remarked to his aide “Itney saarey Nepali kahaan se aa gaye yahaan” (where did so many Nepalese come from). Such is the tragedy of the Gorkhas and we must accept it as our collective failure that even after 72 years of independence, our fellow citizens and the country’s leaders do not know who we are.
It shows that we have not been able to tell our story to the people in power and the nation at large. The NRC process could be a chance to make sure that the Gorkhas are given their due as one of the original inhabitants of the nation. Given the history and contribution of the Gorkhas in the process of nation-building, it is pertinent to demand that the Gorkhas are not denied their right to belong and identity as proud citizens of India.
Together, we must approach the government to ensure that the Gorkha community, irrespective of where they live, are protected under the NRC process. (The author is a content strategist by profession and social commentator by passion. He writes on social issues, mostly concerning the Northeast, and is a part of different community volunteering initiatives. He can be reached at Views expressed are his own)

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