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Gorkhaland and only Gorkhaland,
The Demand of The Hill People
The demand for separate state Gorkhaland is again echoing in the hills of Darjeeling after many rounds of tripartite talks ended inconclusively. The West Bengal Government and the leaders of Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha(GJMM) at logger’s head for their own claims and motives while centre too seems failing to arrive at conclusion and make any consensus. Five years ago, Subhash Ghisingh, the ousted Chairman of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council(DGHC) was driven away by the supporters of GJMM from the hill towards the plain for his alleged failure to live up to the expectation of the hill people continuously for more than twenty years. The development in the hill could not take place as expected and demanded by the people due to the political stalemate and reported tussles over power and function of the DGHC between Ghishingh and West Bengal. Ghishingh was demanding more power under 6th schedule and the centre also was taking some steps, but largely failed to take up the matter in time which further complicated the issue of Darjeeling hill. The people were frustrated and revolted against Ghisingh and West Bengal Government for making them fools for more than twenty years under DGHC. The alleged step-motherly treatment of West Bengal Government too was mainly responsible for the people to react and revolt against Ghishingh. In the past late Sidhartha Sankher Ray, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal tried to make some development in the hill, but his congress men in the plain threw cold water on his plan and again Ray was badly defeated in the hill in the election too as the people of Darjeeling hill understood that Kolkatta will never know their agony and sentiment. The Darjeeling remained isolated in the process of development even after the independence of India and it remains neglected till today.
After the Ghisingh, there was no development at all but the fact is that the hill is totally marginalized in the development process by the State Government. DGHC is still functioning in paper but it has no made any headway in Darjeeling due to political tussle, the great looser is the people of Darjeeling hill. Darjeeling is totally out of modern process of development and very distant from Delhi. Delhi has not send any central observer to look into the condition of the Darjeeling hill and its people. How the people of Darjeeling are surviving? No national leader dares to ask this question. Even the GJMM supported BJP MP Jaswant Singh is silent now who vowed before the large supporters during election to die for the creation of separate state Gorkhaland. During Ghisingh’s leadership, the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) supported MP Inderjit Khullar too became Lok Sabha MP twice from Darjeeling, but there was no single voice raised by him in support or creation of separate statehood Gorkhaland and development of Darjeeling. While tripartite talks are on, why should the development of Darjeeling is to be stopped? Where is the role of State Government in making the destiny of the people of Darjeeling? Where is the fund conceded by the Centre for the development of the Hill? These are some of the burning questions that the people of Darjeeling are asking now that the leaders of the country must be answered to the them as they are voted by them and therefore they are answerable.
If there is any name and glory of Darjeeling remained now, it is only the natural gift like the natural beauty, the snow mountain, glacier and the great Kanchenjunga.The toy train started by British is remained only the heritage of the world that Darjeeling still glorifies.The Mirik lake as a most attractive tourist destination constructed by State Government has now became totally mess, full of unpleasant odorous muddy in absence of good management. Most of the schools housed in village areas are now in doleful condition. The State Tourism and Tourism ministry in centre are sleeping on the pile of file as no headway for maintenance of the lake takes place after passing a decade or so even the local people made plea repeatedly to the concerned authority. Kokatta glories Darjeeling as the queen of hill in the name of Tourism but there is no tourism development in Darjeeling, the obvious reason they are constantly pointing out to the agitation. However, Darjeeling has not noticed any violent agitation except the broad day light murder of Madan Tamang and few other leaders. However, no tourist is reported attacked or vandalized by the supporters of Gorkhaland agitation or kept them in confinement. Demand and peaceful agitation has become the usual process of democratic government elsewhere but the development process is the continuous process, which must not be stopped anywhere at all till the agitation is peaceful and democratic one. The development work is no at all in Darjeeling hill, to the contrary, the available infrastructure is too being depreciated a lot. Any one can take the example of a public toilet in the heart of town, beside the motor stand. There is the gross negligence and non-maintenance of the infrastructure that no visiting tourist like to experience during stay in Darjeeling, the beauty and queen of the hill. Water is essential ingredient for the existence of human being and despite many promises in the election; no successive government in the State and Centre could provide proper and sufficient drinking water to the people of Darjeeling in town area. If there is no water, the toilet remains a garbage place only, but not a toilet for a civilized human being. During peak season and festival, the toilet becomes the hell.
· The condition of Tea garden in Darjeeling is as it were during British regime, the roads and basic amenities are not improved. Even after 64 years of the independence of India, the condition of people of tea gardens is further deteriorated than it was in British regime. No new colleges and industrial units have been set up to meet the growing demands of the people. Today the glory of queen of hill, Darjeeling is fading away. About 30 to 35 years, the people of Sikkim like to visit and study at Darjeeling, they enjoy visiting chaurasta, the landscape and beauty of Darjeeling, but now the situation is reversal. Sikkim is now very advanced in tourism, hydropower generation and marching towards self sufficiency in every field., whereas in another side of Teesta river, the same kind of people are living in pathetic condition under the rule left front Government. While the country took decision for creation of some states like Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Uttarakhand, the people of Darjeeling were ignored. The Gorkha people who sacrificed in Indian freedom struggle are still neglected politically, socially and economically.They are patriotic even today and the people of Darjeeling under the banner of GJMM party is still struggling on the line of Gandhi’s principle of Satyagraha, the demand based on the truth and non-violence.
The demand for Gorkhaland was kept aside by West Bengal Government and Centre Government forcing Ghishingh to drop the demand of Gorkhaland, a political conspiracy hatched by some political leaders and parties of the country. In democracy, any one can demand within the framework of constitution, but impelling to drop the constitutional demand is the unethical on the party of the authoritative leaders and dictators who want to rule the people whatever they want to do them. The suppression of majority community over minority community is creating constitutional breakdown and hierarchy in democracy and hence the minority community in India today feels most unsecured They now want to be politically secured and identified in the national context. Now, they are not fighting for mere economic or development package, but they are struggling to establish their real identity in India. The people of Darjeeling are not gone to the extent of some of the insurgent groups of North East regions for they really believe in democracy and in the principle of Mahatma Gandhi. If the leaders of the country really and seriously study and examine the basis of their demands and the reason that they are following the pattern of Gandhi’s principle of non-violence in their agitation, they can find that the great Gorkha martyr like Dal Bahadur Giri of Darjeeling, Sabitri Devi, the daughter of Sikkim and the daughter in law of Darjeeling, they can find enumerable examples of the contribution of Gorkha and their tolerance and great sactifices.
It is well and good that the talks for possible solution for the people of Darjeeling is on the process, but in each and every round of the talks, the issue is further lingering as if the Centre and West Bengal Government are pushing the demands in the back door and thereby putting hurdle in the democratization process. Justice delayed is justice denied and the people of Darjeeling is now 64 years back and about 35 years back than Sikkim in term of developmental process after independence of India. In the name of development, there is politicization of Darjeeling issue frequently for self vested interest and individual benefit which is anti people and anti national. The interim set up and reported Gorkha autonomous authority also cannot fulfill the hopes and aspiration of the people of Darjeeling, while there is already conflicts over the territorial jurisdiction and constitutional validity. The opposition leaders of the hill have already discarded the proposal of interim setup of Gorkha autonomous authority which they alleged is not better than Ghishingh’s proposal of 6th Schedule in the constitution. Many experts and political observers including the leaders of the hill have now voicing the demand for establishment of union territory status to Darjeeling if they cannot concede their main demand of separate statehood, Gorkhaland. There are such demands from other parts of the country and it is high time that centre government must take a concrete solution within the frame work of the constitution. What logic and factors are there behind the continuous resistance and opposition from West Bengal, the reason is not obvious, but the centre must look into the issue on national perspective and broad outlook than Bengal’s view, because the national issue comes first and foremost in the agenda than the regional interest. If centre vehemently takes the decision to give fair justice to the people of Darjeeling, it will be a step in national interest and best for internal security. Darjeeling, Sikkim and North Eastern States are surrounded by three important international boarder and any kind of problem if solved in time can build the prospect of the people of the country for all the people can equally take part in national building process. -by Bijay Bantawa
The cases of creation of more states in India
The creation of more states including Gorkhaland
is the political necessity of India Today
by Bijaya Bantawa
The British policy of divide and rule and concept of colonialism seem to be not faded from the corrupted mind of some politicians of India still today. In the name of democracy, they play with the sentiments of the people and thereby they indulge in democratic totalitarianism and discrimination and divide the people on caste and community, OBC and NBC, tribal and non-tribal etc.. India is a unique example of multi-ethnicity and multi cultural and multi linguistic country in the world. Despite the vast differences in languages, cultures and regions, India is a glaring example of unity in diversity. Examining and studying the characteristic feature and divergent nature of Indian culture and her people, the founding father of Indian constitution framed the constitution in such a manner which can fulfill the hopes and aspirations of all citizens of India fully protecting their equal rights and freedom of expression irrespective of their caste, color, creed and sex. There is provision for centre and state relations, delegation of power and directive principles. There is federal spirit which binds and balances the mutual relationship of state and centre. It is therefore, obviously understood that the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the nation can be secured and guaranteed only by safeguarding the cultures, languages and faith of the people. India is considered a largest democracy in the world, however despites being so, one can find in practical life the discrimination, injustice and unequal treatment among the citizens of different states.In recent time, the out burst of Raj Thakre championing the cause of Maharathi discarded other people who went to earn livelihood at Mumbai from other states of India. It is only an example that the discrimination among the citizens of this country is meted out. After his so-called statement, The citizens of this country who happened to work from another states to that particular state were driven away mercilessly by the anti-social elements and supporters of Thakre.The taxi drivers hailed from Bihar pulled out from Taxis and beaten up and physically tortured and their taxis were smashed. It clearly shows the complete violation of constitutional right of the citizens and suppression by the majority community on the minority community. Even after completing six decades of country’s independence, the people are not fully merged into national stream and contributed for national integration due to such instances and harassment to them.
In this 21st century, it is high time therefore, to take initiative seriously to root out the causes of discriminations among themselves and enable them all to participate in the national building process equally.
The trouble and unrest flaming out of the bigger states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharastra, Gujrat and West Bengal among the different people and thereby creating havoc and political instability are being noticed these days. Unrest and frequent call of strike thereby inciting violence in some parts of the country have become the order of the day. There is discontentment and unrest in Manipur, Nagaland and Assam of North East India and Militants are raising their heads there. There is the voice of self governance and the concept and general consensus of smaller states are emerging in Indian political scenario today. There is provision in the constitution of India for the creations and reorganization of separate states. There is exigency and burning demand for the formation of state reorganization, commission at the earliest. The people of Telengena , Bodoland and Gorkhaland are voicing their concern repeatedly, but the Centre has not taken the issue seriously because of the political compulsions of their allied group in the coalition Government. During the regime of Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the states like Chattishgar, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal were successfully and without any hurdle created whereas the 50 years old demand of Gorkhaland was not taken into consideration even for discussion sake only across the table of parliament. This is because of the lack of vision of national leadership who worked for political mileage only in the national politics. West Bengal Government was and is the main hurdle in the way of formation of Gorkhaland.The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) chief Subhas Ghising was also passing his days and counting his tenure by running Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council(DGHC) for name sake only and without any power who became the stumbling block for voicing the demand of Gorkhaland. The people of Darjeeling felt betrayed by Subhas Ghisingh. Ghisingh remained chairman for more than 20 years even after the expiry of term and without election. The people of Darjeeling ultimately sensed the double standard of Ghishing who equivocated, misguided by means of unfair tactical move. The mass people withdrew their support from him ultimately and started to pin their faith in a new fledging party called, Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJMM) led by Sri Bimal Gurung. In the very beginning GJMM started their agitation in the line of non violence and non co-operation against West Bengal Government based on the principle of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of Nation. The party persuaded West Bengal and Centre Government about Ghishing’s illegal occupation of the post and thus they could compel Ghising to resign from the post and thereby dethroning him and ending his one man rule. Indeed there is silver lining in their effort and struggle at the present moment and although GJMM displayed their political maturity at the very outset, it has miles to go to achieve the real goal, the separate State Gorkhaland with their perseverance, political maturity and will.
West Bengal Government attempted to maneuver Ghising several times by offering more power for the DGHC thereby diverting the focus of main issue of the people of Darjeeling and ultimately the issue of Sixth Schedule also came in the limelight. Ghising tried to persuade the people that sixth schedule status can be a floodgate for separate statehood Gorkhaland, but the people out rightly rejected his bullying tactics as he often said one thing and another in the past and did nothing for the welfare of the people in practice.
There is no genuine reason why West Bengal makes this rhetoric that West Bengal can’t be further divided on linguistic line whereas other states like Assam ,Himachal Pradesh, Bihar etc. have already been divided on linguistic ground and as per the popular demand of the people. Now, the Left party is no more the allies in the United Progressive Allies (UPA) led by Smt. Sonia Gandhi, the President of National Congress Party. This is right time to teach a lesson to Left Party on the part of Congress led Government at Centre. However, the question raises here, where the Centre Government is busy paying attention to much debated nuclear deal with USA, can they take enough courage to table the bill of the creation of smaller states including Gorkhaland? There is possibility that they face stiff divergent views among themselves since Union Minister Priyaranjan Das Munsi and External Minister Pranab Mukherjee have already remarked about the demand of Gorkhaland saying the same old rhetoric of "Bengal cannot be divided further." If Congress led UPA Government cannot take this firm decision this time in favour of creating the smaller states, they will get hardly any opportunity in the future as the decision "to do or not to do" will be retrospective effect on them and it can decide their prospect largely. Indeed, this is a political turning point in the history of India. However, the leaders who are voicing the demand of separate statehood must chalk out a strategy and hit on the point when iron is hot. The voice of the people who are demanding the separate states like Bodoland, Telengena, Vidarbha, Kamtapuri and Gorkhaland under the provision of the constitution can not be suppressed by the democratic country like India by means of using weapon by police force. The smaller states can give better governance in comparison with bigger states; the glaring examples being Goa, Mizoram, Sikkim etc.. Now it is proved without any reasonable room for doubt that the people can better perform and participate in national building process if they are governed by their own people, as the salient feature of the constitution itself read like "the Government and Constitution of the people by the people and for the people." It has been noticeably observed that devolution and decentralization of power can bring better governance, as it makes the people more responsive towards their duties. They can swing into action for not just becoming power and right conscious but they can begin to believe in doing works by their own hand and bring out the result. In bigger states there are instances of suppression and exploitation of majority community over minority. If such thing is allowed to persist, the democratic system of governance will unequivocally be jeopardized. Thereafter, the country cannot march ahead despite making long term strategy, planning and vision. The political solution in today’s world is most important for economic sustainability and growth of economy. Long lasting peace and tranquility are most essential ingredients for all round developments of any developing nations like India, but the first essential importance is political solution. If the people is given their right and make them responsible in their own land, there will be strong and self reliant states, if state will be strong and self reliant the country will be strong and self reliant. This brings the people into national main stream and they can contribute for national integration and take part in national building on equal footing with their fellow citizens. Thus the equality among them comes automatically and practically as guaranteed by the constitution.
The country, while forming into the different states has already divided into linguistic states like Maharastra, Rajasthan, Gujrat, Manipur, Nagaland, Punjab, Bihar, Bengal etc, but some of the minority community like Gorkha of Darjeeling, Dooars and parts of the country remain unheeded because of the wrong political decision of the then national leaders. The founding father of Indian constitution had sensed such a political blunder and political dilemma and hence they rightfully envisaged the provision for the creation of the state by forming state reorganization commission. They were wise enough and quite conscious that the discontentments of any minority community may lead to disaster and political crisis in national building process. However, the political will of the leaders of the country is needed to take initiative at the spur of the moment. If any state governments or centre government attempt to suppress the voice of the people, they have to pay it very dearly in the days to come. Such a negligence and dictatorial way of governance can invite unrest, disturbance, and insurgency like in the case of North Eastern States that the Centre government and the state governments are being faced today. Slowly and gradually the concept of smaller states is emerging in Darjeeling and some parts of the country and becoming the burning issue today. The people are supporting the cause with mass and active participation. Some of the political demagogue tries to take advantage and swing the wind in their favor by ignoring the genuine cause of the people and by playing with their sentiment. It is a shameful act and heinous crime on the part of self styled national and regional leaders who come under the pressure of majority community and communal forces and indulge in discriminating and exploiting the people belonging to minority community as in the case of West Bengal. The so-called leaders who took oath of office after being voted for in protecting all the people equally and fairly forget their pledges and indulge in partiality and work against the interest of the people who do not belong to his community. This is an act against the spirit of the constitution and such leaders are anti-people and anti nation who must be discarded by the intellectual persons and the conscious citizens of civil society.
It is therefore, the responsibility of the intellectual and the conscious political leader to realize the hopes and aspirations of the people in time and address their problems in the right forum and convince the centre leadership by creating general consensus in the larger interest of the country. Necessity is the mother of invention, likewise the dire necessity and aspirations of the people, make it compulsory to create the states, this is Hobson’s choice for the centre Government on the issue that plaguing across the country. Not only Gorkhaland but many more other smaller states are being drawn on the map of India, which is being observed by many learned persons and political observers of the country today. Now, this is the acid test for the fore runners and leaders who are championing the cause of Gorkhaland .They must swing into action dully respecting and upholding the mandate of the people to achieve the goal at last.