Intellectuals concerned about Gorkhaland Demand

The Bengali intellectuals from siliguri has at last spoke against the inclusion of Siliguri and Duars in Gorkhaland.

SILIGURI, April 14: Intellectuals of Siliguri today questioned the rationale behind the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha’s demand to include Siliguri and Dooars in the proposed Gorkhaland state. Apart from this, they expressed serious concern over Siliguri turning into a haven for the subversives. Mr Ashru Kumar Sikdar, a former professor of the North Bengal University, Mr Haren Ghosh, a noted academician and Mr Ananda Gopal Ghosh, professor of history, North Bengal University, brushed aside the demand for the inclusion of Siliguri town and Dooars in the proposed Gorkhaland state, branding it as absurd. “It is being orchestrated to create a divide between the Hills and the plains on ethnic lines, which is a dangerous trend and unjustified,” they opined. Mr Sikdar said that the demand for self-autonomy in the Darjeeling Hills comprising Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong sub-divisions was a century old. “The demand for a separate state comprising the three sub-divisions may have some justification. Yet, at no point of time, in the long history of the region, Siliguri and Dooars figured in the self-autonomy demand. History does not support such a demand.”Corroborating this statement, Mr Haren Ghosh, said that even the Darjeeling Hills did not have a notable Nepali population until 1865. “The Lepchas, a distinct ethnic tribe, dominated the Hills in terms of population. In 1865 when tea estates came into being ethnic Nepalis began pouring into the Hills in large numbers from Nepal in search of jobs in the upcoming tea estates. The number further grew with the introduction of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in 1880. As far as Siliguri and Dooars are concerned ethnic Nepalis were negligible in number until 1950 when the Indo-Nepal friendship treaty was signed between the two governments. Even now, ethnic Nepali population is not more than 60,000 in Siliguri out of the roughly estimated population of 70 million,” Mr Ghosh added. Prof Ananda Gopal Ghosh of NBU expressed concern over distortion of history to suit certain demands, which cannot stand the objective historical scrutiny. [The Statesman]

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