Gorkhaland and The Kalimpong Massacre - July 27th 1986 Part - II

Indo-Nepal Friendship Treaty 1950, Gorkhaland and The Kalimpong Massacre - July 27th 1986 - Part II

 The Indo-Nepal Friendship Treaty of 1950, Gorkhaland and The Kalimpong Massacre - July 27th 1986 - Part II

Many of our youngsters know that we commemorate July 27th as the Saheed Diwas, many more would know that we commemorate it to remember the Gorkhaland martyrs, but very few would know what actually happened that day.

Hence, we are presenting an account of the July 27th 1986 massacre, recorded by a Mr. Khaling and later reproduced in an online magazine - Cafe Dissensus [http://cafedissensusblog.com/] We are thankful to the Magazine for giving us the permission to re-produce the amazingly vivid and heart breaking narrative, which changed the destiny and people of Darjeeling forever.

The events described on the pages of this book are real, as real as the characters who played their parts. Not one single character is fictitious – except, perhaps for his or her identity which cannot be pinpointed. The dead and injured on both sides excepted. After all, the arena was not a ring or stadium with limited boundaries, where the contest was between Muhammad Ali and Joe Fraser; or a final game between Argentina and West Germany for the world soccer. The characters involved in the killings on both sides can never be pin-pointed and identical.

The first blood of the day was drawn at about 1.15 p.m. when the CRP jawans intercepted the upcoming marchers from the 7th Mile, an earmarked area, on their way to town. The CRP jawans tried to disperse the crowd by throwing canisters, which attempt was foiled. The subsequent action on the part of the CRP jawans that followed was rather drastic and unexpected. They came out blazing with their guns that resulted in seven casualties. Two girls had their right thighs almost torn away; another, her ankle badly wounded…

Thus, the premier opening show of the first act of the ‘Bloody Drama’ had been made. The venue was the length of the Rishi Road between the Engine Ghar and the bend nearly two hundred feet down the road just above the Custom Office. The first shooting that started here brought most of the big-wigs to the scene of the firing, leaving the Head Quarters situated at the main junction to the charge of minor officials. At that very moment, the marching columns of demonstrators, the biggest and the loudest, made its sweeping thrust, coming as they were from the Bong areas via the East-Main Road, down the Ongden Road that, running parallel to the Mela Ground below, leads on to the Motor Stand. From the Motor Stand, the head of the procession made a stab for the R.C.Mintri Road, straight ahead, for God alone knows, why, as the proposed plan had been to assemble on the Mela Ground for the said programme.

It must be mentioned here that maximum effort had been directed to thwart and prevent the entry of the demonstrators into the Mela Ground. In other words, the display of the mass-protest on the Mela Ground was a forbidden act that would be dealt with utmost severity. All the four entry-points into the Motor Stand and then on to the Mela Ground had been completely sealed off by rifle-toting CRP jawans, with rifles held menacingly in their hands. Therefore, all earlier efforts by a smaller column to make a breakthrough had been foiled. Some, perhaps, did not dare. In their excitement, the marchers suddenly made their way straight ahead towards the R.C.Mintry Road that heads east through the lower portion of the town to join the Rishi Road, that runs parallel to it through the upper portion of the town, just beyond the Fire Brigade complex located at 10th Mile…

As the mighty column of demonstrators, snowballing as it forged ahead along the R.C. Mintri road (they were coming on) connects the Rishi Road to form a three-way junction. The CRP jawans who had been holding back the marchers from Algarah-Pedong-Labha (mentioned earlier), were taken aback by this sudden turn of event. However, discretion prevailed as they were hopelessly outnumbered by a column of more volatile marchers. No shooting took place at this point, as the marchers, though emotionally super-charged, were perfectly disciplined, their faculties intact. As this massive column of marchers made a U-turn to make a return journey via Rishi Road to the town, the protest-marchers pinned down at the junction also joined them to make an outrageously long procession column nearly a mile long.

As the head of this mighty procession reached the central junction of the town in the vicinity of the Central Bank and the Gompu’s (Hotel), the words of earlier firing, the first shooting spree of the CRP jawans in the premises of ‘Engine Dara’, leaked out to the emotionally-charged crowd of demonstrators. It was at this point, as hinted earlier, destiny intervened once again to divert the courses of the marchers from its intended destination, the Mela Ground. Instead of making a ninety degree left-turn, the head of the column forged straight ahead through the Main Road towards the Police Station about one thousand feet ahead. An instinctive reaction in response to the earlier shooting.

And at that very quivering moment of fateful decision, the tiny dot of time so infinitesimally brief, many a young people in the very prime of their youth, had reached a point of no return. They had already, as fate decreed, crossed the threshold – the ‘Laxman Rekha’ beyond which these brave young ones had a tryst with death.
When the tormented head of the emotionally-charged column of demonstrators shot ahead with shouts of ‘Jai Gorkha’, about fifteen to twenty CRP jawans, with rifles held ready to shoot and all standing in a single file across the Main Road began to retreat in their futile bid to stave off the advancing mob.

However, it must be particularly mentioned here that except for the attempt to forge ahead, not one single attack had so far been made on the CRP jawans, despite the earlier shooting, and despite the provocative display of hardwares by the CRP jawans almost on edge. Display of guns would not cow down or frighten the Gorkhas, once they believed that their demand was constitutionally right and viable, and that their aspiration to seek for themselves a place in the sun was perfectly human as fully envisaged in the Charter of Human Rights by the UNO. Let us not forget that.

Just when the head of the procession reached the junction just in front of the Police Station, a hail of stones of sizes big enough to be conveniently thrown, began to greet the advancing marchers. The stones came from the direction of the General Post Office building ahead, and from the second floor of the Boral Mansion directly above. Now, whoever masterminded the strategy of provocative incitement had its desired result in full measure. Thoroughly provoked, and at the end of their dither, the angry mob started pelting the CRP jawans with the same stones in retaliation.

This was the opening that the trigger-happy CRP jawans were looking for. No tear gas canisters were thrown, or any lathi-charge made to disperse the crowd. They simply came out shooting with the result that the Thana-junction area was littered with bodies of the dead and wounded. The people began to scatter and run in every possible direction…

Now with the shooting commenced at the junction of the P.S., the biggest tragedy of the day began to take shape, with the tail-end of the procession being somewhere far beyond the Kanchan Cinema area. The young people in procession now on the Main Road became the victims of cold-blooded murder, an uncalled for ‘Act’ that fully justifies the assumption of a ‘Jallianwalla Bagh’ repetition, as also endorsed by the position taken by the ‘CRP-Ambush-Squad’ mentioned earlier.

The Kalimpong Main Road, now made famous for the football team (always unpopular with the Kalimpong public for reasons unknown), it represents in the local tournament, particularly the tournament held in honor of the Independence Shield, suddenly became the ‘Valley of Death’ with buildings and houses towering on either side of it (Main Road) with narrow gullies and lanes in-between them.

Synchronizing with the firing up ahead at the Police Station area, a hail of bullets greeted the marchers entrapped on the Main Road. Those bullets were fired from the rifles of the CRP jawans, sitting in ambush on the house-tops on the left-hand side of the Main Road. It was a shooting spree they could have carried out blind-folded.
The Main Road suddenly became littered with the bodies of young boys and girls, all in their teens. Some of them had kukri brandished in their delicate hands, and the slogan of ‘Jai Gorkha’ on their lips, as they went down with terrible head injuries sustained by the cold-blooded assassins’ bullets. They all died with their boots on…

As the shooting became intensified, at times quite at random, and utterly senseless, pandemonium broke loose, with panicked crowd running helter-skelter in every possible direction. This was the first and a most natural reaction to a situation the peace-loving hill-people have never had the occasion to confront with. But, by this time, the blood of the young men who saw with their own eyes the bloody massacre being committed by these CRP demons without the slightest regard for human life, began to rise to boiling point.

Suddenly, there was a wave of reprisal that burst forth on many a front. The head of one CRP demon rolled, the chopped head allegedly landed up-right with the helmet intact. The upturned moustache fluttered for a brief second that synchronized with the fluttering of the eye-lids, and the head was dead. The beheaded body ran for a short distance with blood gushing out and fell headlong (or shoulder long since the body had no head) in a dead-heap…

In their panic to get away from the bullets of the CRP jawans shooting from their ambush position, the crowd in an attempt to make their escape through the gullies and lanes down into the Ongden Road, were caught squarely by the CRP jawans standing at the end point of the lanes. Another shooting spree was going on here on the Ongden Road and its vicinity just above the Mela Ground, by a group of CRP braves. They were fortified by a small embankment provided by the sloping Ongden Road, with the approach road that branches out in a sharp U-turn leading to the Nehru Manch on the Mela Ground, and down to the Baghdhara Road further below. The funniest thing is that while you are shooting at point-blank range to the panicked, fleeing crowd, the shooters do not require a trench or, for that matter, an embankment for their own safety against counter-attack. ‘Were they fighting the enemies on the battle front?’

From the vantage point, the CRP jawans fired away at the fleeing mass in three different directions: one towards the Ongden Road leading to the Motor Stand; another towards the Nehru Manch and Baghdhara; and still another towards the head of Ongden road close to the Frontier Office.

Six dead bodies were recovered from under the overgrowth and weeds-covered slope that extends from the top of the Ongden Road in front of the Frontier Office down to Baghdhara, a natural source of spring (dhara) which has been running since time immemorial – a major source of water supply for a number of Municipal wards of the town. Until now, the attack on the CRP jawans had been confined to the act of hitting back in direct retaliation on the spur of the moment, to what those brave, dying women were meted out – the fatal bullet wound that killed them. In fact, the yellow streak inherent in those trigger-happy CRP jawans began to spill over the moment women, old and young, began to resist and fight back tooth-and-nail as shown by the examples cited on the foregoing pages; the final spurt of do-or-die attack with kukris and a stout heart by the young Gorkhas that finally subdued the killers to a whimpering dog…

To be continued.....................

[The pics were shot on that day by Gorkh's Daju whose identity is still not known to anyone. The picture of 14 year old victim Pratima Pradhan from Jordhara was published in a book "Gorkhaland Jankari" and has been shared with us by one of our reader Vishal]

Also read  Gorkhaland and The Kalimpong Massacre - July 27th 1986 Part - I
                Gorkhaland and The Kalimpong Massacre - July 27th 1986 Part - III

Courtesy: The Darjeeling Chronicle

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