INDIA’S JOURNEY TO DAMNATION

By ALI SUKHANVER

Don’t forget to sip the famous black tea whenever you go to Darjeeling; a town in India’s West Bengal state in the Himalayan foothills. Darjeeling used to be a summer resort for the British Raj elite before partition. This paradise on the earth is a beautiful combination of varied cultures comprising of Nepali, Lepchas, Bhutia, Tibetans, and other mainland Indian ethno-linguistic groups. Darjeeling, alongside its neighbouring town of Kalimpong was the centre of the Gorkhaland movement in the 1980s. Gorkhaland is a proposed statehood demand from the Indian state of West Bengal. The formal demand for a separate administrative unit in Darjeeling came to the surface first time in 1907 when the Hillmen’s Association of Darjeeling submitted a memorandum to Minto-Morley Reforms demanding an independent administrative unit. Once again this demand was repeated with a new zeal and zest in 1980s by Subhash Ghisingh. He demanded for the creation of a state called Gorkhaland within India to be carved out of the hills of Darjeeling and areas of Dooars and Siliguri terai adjacent to Darjeeling. Unfortunately violence added to this peaceful demand and as a result of agitation over 1200 people lost their lives. In 2007 a new political party called the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha commonly known as GJM once again raised the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland. That movement is still alive. For the last 90 days Darjeeling is once again in a state of public agitation. This latest spell of protests for a separate state of Gorkhaland was triggered by the Mamata Banerjee government’s decision to make Bengali compulsory in schools across West Bengal. There is complete strike in the area and a severe scarcity of food and medicines. Schools and colleges have been shut since the second week of June and normal life has come to a grinding halt. People are raising slogans against the indifferent attitude of the Modi government and have no intention of putting any end to this strike. Instead of resolving the issue and listening to the demand for the Gorkhaland, New Delhi is trying all possible to disconnect Darjeeling from rest of the world by suspending the internet services. Moreover the Darjeeling police have started searching for the people who are more active and vibrant in this movement. On 28 Aug 17, Darjeeling Police arrested three active supporters of Gorkhaland movement on charges of involvement in arson and violence that took place in the hills two months back in June; according to the latest details, no one knows where those three arrested people are now. It is being feared that on the direction of the Modi government, they have been murdered in police custody. Another interesting fact is that New Delhi is also trying to weaken this movement by creating differences and misunderstanding in the ranks of Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee but no success has yet been achieved in this context. Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and all other political parties are not ready to surrender before the adamant behaviour of the Delhi Sarkar. They say they will not call off the strike only unless New Delhi makes announcement of an independent Gorkha state. On the other hand, the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamta has pledged that a division of the Darjeeling Hills from Bengal would be resisted by blood. Even the center in New Delhi is not ready to create a Gorkha state despite the fact that GJM has been an ally of BJP. In short things are heading towards a point of no return in Darjeeling. It seems that the protesters behind the Gorkhaland Movement are braver and stronger than those behind the Khalistan Movement and they certainly have more courage than the Sikh community. It is a very bitter reality that on one hand Modi Sarkar is patronizing various separatist movements in Pakistan and China by supporting the so-called sub-nationalists but on the other hand various separatist movements in different parts of India are posing serious threat to Indian federation. Cruel caste system, the menace of Hindu extremism and social injustice are few of the so many problems which are pushing the whole of Indian society to a hell of eternal damnation.

 

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