With the conclusion of the first round of the Tripartite talks held in Delhi recently over the triangular table chairing the Union Home Secretary, West Bengal Chief Secretary and the coterie of GJMM members is democratically conceived (despites the complaints of Siliguri based self proclaimed intellectual bodies Jana Jagaran, Jana Chetana, Bangla O Bangla Bhasa Bachao Samiti), disgruntled for not having been invited to the party served on the Tripartite table reserved only for the threesome. The cuisine served would have been unpalatable to the taste bud and ingestible stomaically. After all need the proclaimed intellectual heads be reminded that the meeting was strictly for the bureaucratic intellectuals on one side and the representatives of the political parties, repeat political, spearheading the demand for a separate unit state outside West Bengal and within the Indian Union? Any comments from the Siliguri based ‘intellectuals’? If at all they are well advised to study archival documents before pretending as false prophets. Surely North Bengal University archives can furnish enough documented literature furnishing the historical perception of Darjeeling hills and the Duars inclusively, exhaustively.
Now that representative members of the GJMM are back in the Darjeeling hills must be meeting more than often to stock their haversacks full of rations and implements for the untred trail ahead leading to the destination statehood for the Darjeeling hills and the adjoining Duars. Herein, some expose by ‘small mouth big talk’ Hillman having excavated the treasure box, discovered from the documental ruins of The Raj, which jewels of information should light the darkness of night while treading along with the roadmap on the trail of Gorkhaland. Till update the journey has been long and torturous with no space allowed to breathe the resurgent air needed to proceed on the arduous journey which travel footprints are imprinted in the minds of the spectrum of hill peoples, young and old without differential barriers. Surely, the intellectuals within the GJMM fold are working hard to draw the trump card from the deck in order to beat the hand dealt out to other players. Herein, some tips to shuffle the cards to produce the trump.
The roadmap is the legacy of the British Raj itself, although misinterpreted subjectively by the Indian psychic, the ideas and frames incorporated by the rulers were compressive comprehensively subjectively objective. These valuable documents well researched and evidential still form the administrative guidelines, with amendments of course, forming the basis of constructing new rules and regulations in the democratic Republican face of the nation. Doubtless, the bureaucrats representing the Centre and the State well versed in the legality and jurisprudence of the scriptures left behind by the British rulers, will throw their hands with these cards. Therefore, now it is upto the GJMM representatives to read their opponents cards and draw the trump from the dealt cards. This is how the British administration system operated, diplomatically as a matter of policy, ambiguously, but targeting all the birds (more than two) with the fling of a stone.
Like the Jews who are inborn with their ancient history, religion and culture, contain within the specific word ‘Persher’, hidden meanings of historicity for future decipherment to remerge the intent for present times. It is possible this feature was also present in Tibet and underlying areas, wherein Mahayana Buddhism, practice of which allowed mixed-match of local traits combined with those imported from India, introduced the ‘terma’. This process allowed amendment of the creeds of the present system by introducing terma, a tradition by which literary books, formulas and symbols were discovered as predestined by departed souls of heads of religious institutions, in order to carry their lineage of the various sectorals respectively.
Inspite, this Hillman has already indicated in earlier small mouth big talk articles, some extracts from them needs deliberately withdrawn here to bring the whole roadmap into identifiable perspections to define the precedental structure and the invisible face of the state of Gorkhaland structured within the ambit of the legislative, judicial, and administrative rules and regulations described by various Govt. of India (GoI) Acts and Ordinances. This has reference, since the time the English passed the Regulating Act of 1773 in the British Parliament.
Within the meaning of Regulating Act of 1773 applied to the Darjeeling hills later this area was notified as a ‘Non Regulation District’, the importance of the term is not so much the provisions of the Act, which separated the division of territorial and division of power between the East India Company and the Crown. The Act was the beginning leading to the end of the East India Company and handing over India to the Crown and the British Parliament who’s Act of 1833 ended the Company’s trade monopoly. The East Indian Company’s chapter in India ended in 1857/58 when the Govt. assumed direct control to become British India. The District was included under the general regulation system of administration for a brief period of 1861-70, however, the Act of 1870 took it out of the regulation system providing special treatment to the district from the purview of provincial legislation, thereby defining the distinct backward regional identity of the Darjeeling hill peoples in comparative similarity to those of the eastern regions of India bordering Bengal. The Act provided allowing the Governor General to legislate separately for ‘Backward Tract’ which provisions were extended to what then constituted Assam from Jan 1873, prior to the introduction of Chief Commissionship of Assam in 1874 (Scheduled District Act of 1874 – also called the Local Laws Extent Act) which, identified the ‘Backward Tracts’ in legal terms to become ‘Scheduled Districts’. Such administrative setup for Darjeeling district, as less advanced was only for a short period 1870-74. when, along with such other districts was brought under the Scheduled District Acts of 1874.. The Act provided listed districts the normal legislation and jurisdiction in force only in part or with modification in force in any part of British India. The Act specified 5 districts including Darjeeling (Bengal) and others elsewhere as Scheduled Districts, viz. Jalpaiguri Darjeeling Divisions (Districts).
The administrative arrangement for Darjeeling district remains unchanged till the Indian Council Act of 1909. When the Govt. of India Act 1919 clubbed all the Scheduled districts, reintroduced a new terminology ‘Backward Tracts’, akin to old wine in new bottle. Many area wines were maturing with age whereas some gradually, finally being differentiated under the administrative phraseology ‘Excluded’ or ‘Partially Excluded Areas’
In 1906 the British govt. introduced new reforms in India in order to allow the locals more powers in legislative affairs, which was provided by the GoI of 1909 (Minto Morley Reforms). Regretfully, the memorandum presented to the Govt. in 1907 by leaders of the hill people, demanded a separate administrative setup, and went unheard in the ensuing Act.
Again in 1918 The Montagu Chelmsford Report was prepared in order to introduce reforms pertaining to self governing institutions to the country which formed the basis of GoI Act 1919. In prelude to the Montagu Chelmsford Report, on 8th Nov 1917 prominent Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalese representing the opinion off the people of Darjeeling district presented another memorial restating the same earlier demand of 1907, being the ‘one point’ agenda ‘creation of a separate unit comprising of the present Darjeeling district with the portion of Jalpaiguri District which was annexed from Bhutan in 1865’. The 1971 memorial specifically describes the regional identity of Darjeeling hills under the present criteria for identification of tribes as identified by the Lukur Commission 1965 in place since 1999 (amended in 2002).
The ‘one point’ memorandum arguing: – Items 1 to 9. pg 164
1. Darjeeling’s inclusion into Bengal was incidental. The district being a part of the president of Bengal was ‘comparatively recent’ and had become so only because the British were the common rulers of both the places.
2. There was no affinity between the people of the two areas.
3. Geographically no greater contrast was possible than between the mountains of Darjeeling and the plains of Bengal
4. Racially the physiognomy of the majority of the hill people was Mongolian and different from that of the plains
5. The two areas did not have s shared history
6. Religiously a large part of the population was Buddhist and even the Nepalis who were classified as Hindus had different religious customs from those of the plains
7. Linguistically there was no alliance between the two places. Even the lingua franca of the courts and schools in the district was Hindi in contrast to Bengali in the plains
8. Health-wise the hill people disliked the hot climate of the plains and
9. Educationally, despite primary education being more general in the hills than any other district of Bengal higher education was still backward because colleges and other institutions of professional training were all in the plains. That despite the desire to have such facilities in the hills their presence in the plains acted as a barrier.
The document underlined the provision of self-government as proposed by the Act in the following terms ‘…..this district should be excluded from them and that the evolution of our political life should be towards a distinct local government of our own…’. This historical political demand was signed by leaders of different hill communities including S.W.Ladenla, Kharga Bahadur Chettri, Dr. Yensing Sitling, Meghbir Singh, Lachman Singh, Nar Prasad Kumai and Deonidhu Upadhaya. No doubt, to fulfill the agenda incorporating Darjeeling hills within Bengal, local circles prevailed on the Kalimpong Samiti led by Sardar Bhimdal Dewan and the Peoples Association of Darjeeling preferred inclusion of Darjeeling into Bengal eluded by the benefits of the constitutional reforms as pictured by Bengal’s wily politicians.
Following the above memorial presented by the Hillmen’s Association a similar prayer was submitted to the Govt. in March 1920 as an outcome of a meeting of the Darjeeling Planters Association, European Association and Hillmen’s Association, who in a resolution demanded that Darjeeling dist with some areas in Jalpaiguri be separated from Bengal and made into an ‘extended excluded area’ with ‘self-governing institutions’ read a separate administrative state.
The incidental inclusion of Darjeeling in Bengal withdrawn from the Presidency of Bengal, note: which at one time till the partition of Bengal
-16 Oct 1905: Bengal and Assam provinces reorganized into Eastern Bengal, Assam province and West Bengal province.
-In 12 Dec 1911: the partition of Bengal 1905 was nullified
-In 1912 Bihar and Orissa province split from Bengal
-Two and half years later after Indian Independence 15 Aug 1947, Bengal again split for the third time into West Bengal (India) and East Pakistan. The regional characteristics of Bengal is similar to that of the Balkans, which was galvanized by intended dictatorial rule under the guise of communism (Titoism) after whose death and the disintegration of Yugoslavia triggered the nationalistic claim to balkanization of the area. Another exponent of balkanization is the recent historical example being the disintegration of the Russia federation into the components comprising the regional minorities forming their own national states. The idea to note from the two examples is the over centralization of power with the parent nations, whose dictatorial unitary tendency contravened the concept of federalism by stimulating ethnic sensitivity of regional identity in a centrifugal manner whereas, reverse political attitude should have been the program.
So if at all Darjeeling district and the Duars is separated as an administrative unit from West Bengal, it does not mean separation of state but a historical ongoing federalizing evolutionary process of Bengal Presidency towards unification with constituent Indian Union. Even the Montagu Chelmsford Report overlooked the genuine constitutional political grievances as embedded in the memorandum on 8th Nov 1917 by the Hillmen’s Association although the petitioning body itself only formalized as an association in1919. The Montagu Chelmsford Report too is seen to have overlooked the Darjeeling hill peoples demand, which was presented to the Cabinet on 24 May and 7 June 1918 embodied in the GoI Act 1919.
In the Act, only the franchise was extended and increased authority was given to Central; and provincial legislative councils, but the Viceroy remained responsible solely to London. No way did the 1919 reforms satisfy political demands in India instead, repressed opposition, restriction on press and movement by introducing the Rowlatt Act in 1919 angered Jinnah to resign. Gandhi launched a nation wide protest with the strongest level of protest in Punjab. Apparently, unwittingly example of violence of rules against the gathered people led to the massacre of Jallianwallah Bagh in Amritsar in 1919, a historical episode leading to the mass involvement throughout India. The following year Sept 1920 the Indian National Congress delegates supported Gandhis proposal of swaraj or self-rule preferring within the British Empire or even outside it if necessary. The tone of the GJMM political agitation following the Gandhian aspects of agitation is seen to be losing its patience with the state under which it has barely survived for over a century despite its constitutional provisions to determine the democratic right to self determination within the Indian ethos. It is hoped the Centre unlike blinded Bengal, sees the light of day with inputs from its various political and national security aspects, and put forward a justifiable program leading to statehood for the Darjeeling hills. At this juncture, Bengal awakening after 40 years of economic and political bankruptcy is unable to conceive the magnitude of the problem, as it is involved in maintaining its own regional identity particularly; it’s economic existence in the national and globalised liberalized scenario being enacted in reference to Tata’s in Singur. The scene predicts a situation the CPM came to wield power in 1967 onwards till the present times adventing and implementing land reforms which cycle now complete is heralding its demise, with reverse policy of land reforms, or else perish in defeat in the race against other states in the event of industrialization.
If the demanded status is not achieved by the Darjeeling hill peoples, it is probable that the hill political parties will not participate in the forthcoming general election due to be held shortly. This will be in line with the Gandhian scheme of things, when the Congress did not field candidates in the first elections held under the Montagu Chelmsford Report in 1921.
The GoI Act 1919 introducing the system of diarchy (double rule democracy) to govern the provinces, had itself stated a Commission would be appointed after a period of ten years to access the progress of the govt. scheme and accord new steps for reform.
In the spirit, an Indian Statutory Commission came to India in 1927 to study Constitutional reforms in the colony, commonly referred to as the Simon Commission. The 7 British MP’s while arriving in Mumbai on 3 Feb 1928, the Simon Commission was confronted by protestors including the entire country observing a hartal (strike) and black flags. The Commission was greeted with equal distaste in every major Indian city. The one protest which gained infamy against the Simon Commission was the incident in Lahore on 30 Oct 1928, when the nationalist Lala Lajpat Rai moved a resolution against the Commission in the Central Legislative Assembly of Punjab. In the incident, while allowing the Commission to pass, the local police beat the protestors with sticks. In this incident Lala Lajpat Rai received brutal injuries and later declared, ‘the blows which fell on me today are the last nails in the coffin of British Imperialism’ regretfully on 27 Nov the same year he succumbed to his injuries on the head. History was created with his martyrdom and the beginning of the struggle for Indian Independence.
In 1928 Motilal Nehru presenting his Nehru Report to counter British charges that India could not find a constitutional consensus advocated, that India be given a complete self government. The first Round Table Conference was proposed in London when five members of the Nepali speaking Hillmen’s Association presented a memorial for inclusion of ‘some special reservations be made’ for the Gorkhas of India in order to ‘preserve their social solidarity’. It further went on to state ‘….….Darjeeling where the Gorkha population predominate, should be excluded from Bengal and be treated as an independent administrative unit with the Deputy Commissioner as an administrator vested with much more powers than that of a District Magistrate and assisted by a small Executive Council (like the Provincial Governor’s Executive Council) representative of all interests in the administration of the area’. This appeal too, seemed to have been blown by the winds of Bengal
The Commission published 17 volume reports in 1930 proposing the abolition of diarchy and the establishment of representative govt. in the provinces. The outcome of the Simon Commission was the GoI Act 1935, which established representative govt. at the provincial level in India, and is the basis of the many parts of the Indian Constitution. In 1933 the Joint Committee on Indian Constitutional Reforms reexamined ‘Excluded’ and ‘Partially Excluded Area’ status of Darjeeling, instead of retaining the special status, the Reforms Committee bifurcated ‘Excluded or Partially Excluded Area’ into two separate identities as ‘Excluded’ and ‘Partially Excluded Area’ by promulgation of the GoI ‘Excluded’ and ‘Partially Excluded’ Ordinance 1936. Thus paving the road for the final merger of Darjeeling district in Bengal instead of outside, as demanded by the Darjeeling hill peoples. This reverse process is considered to be the outcome of the Bengali mind, which is hell bent on disallowing separation of Darjeeling district to crown its head with the Himalayas in contrast to the bleakness of the plains, but at a heavy cost, that is to the detriment of the feelings, concerns and emotions of the Darjeeling hill peoples.
Surely, this is a sadistic gesture by an educated dominant majority population undermining the aspirations and dreams of a simple minded minority composition of Darjeeling district. The Central govt. must take all aspects into consideration in determining the justification for the separate regional identity in the form of a state for the Darjeeling district hill people and the adjoining plains.
The result of the term ‘Partially Excluded Area’ was premeditatively divided from its original body ‘Excluded’ to incorporate the Darjeeling hills more or less into a permanent territorial part of West Bengal by the impending elections on 27 March 1937. Damber Singh Gurung was elected to the Bengal legislature, which position directly affected the future status of the district, and which historical guilt of Bengal must be relived by separating the Darjeeling hills from Bengal, once and for all.
Bengal’s intention is clearly observed in 1905, when Bengal and Assam provinces were reorganised into East Bengal and Assam Province, and West Bengal Province for disallowing the participation of Darjeeling district into its natural partner Assam province, with whom the regional identity of the District resembles. Whereas, the mismatch of the Darjeeling hill people with Bengal is inverse as well as reverse in every respect. This criteria was heavily overlooked by the British rulers who seemed to have need to the deal in response to hold their own stake in governance and rule, with the help of politicians, civil servants and babus that Bengal produced, in which the British required as assistant to their larger game plan for rest of India.
The definition, nay, the words of the title ‘Backward Tract’, ‘Scheduled Districts’ (reverted back to Backward Tract) ending in ‘Excluded’ and ‘Partially Excluded Areas’ which definition also included ‘Inner Line Permit’ in background to the ‘outer line’ areas (read to also mean Indian states, districts and areas bordering to foreign country, specially the North east state’s (including then Sikkim), as well as regions in the Northwest. These districts and later states required Inner Line Permits as Restricted Areas Permits, primarily, to protect and preserve the backward inhabitants from their indigenous and primitive ways from all foreigners as well. The idea was not to destabilise their ethnic and regional identity by introducing reforms applied for the dominant population, but seen adversely affecting the lesser marginalized minority communities, different from the former, in reverse application. What was good for the majority was not necessarily good for the minority, and which the fathers of the Constitution provided in resolutions by the Schedules and Concurrent Lists.
In other words, the Inner Line Permits and Restricted Area Permits introduced in 1880’s were specific to ‘Excluded Areas’ and ‘Partially excluded Areas’ in the Northeast where they are still in vogue. In Darjeeling district too, the Permits were promulgated and applied till recently around 1980’s, was withdrawn for what purpose and better judgment known to the power that be, the State and possibly the Centre. An explanation to its withdrawal is demanded from both the concerned Governments, who should sort this out in the proceeding Tripartite talks currently being held in Delhi. When the entire Northeastern states still preserve the Permit system, what advantage did Darjeeling district derive by its withdrawal, or was is part of a wider game plan for the unconstitutional merger of Darjeeling hills into the State, and also explain the reasons for the provisions of Govt. of India Act 1936, turning Darjeeling district into a ‘Partially Excluded Area’ along with Khasi & Jaintia Hill and Garo Hills of Assam, which became Meghlaya State. Why the differential treatment was meted to Darjeeling District if the progeny was born from the same matriarch.
In support of the above instance, in retrospection since Darjeeling district was always as a ceded bordered territory along with erstwhile and undivided border state of Assam consisting of multiple identified ‘Backward Tracts’ 1873; redefined as ‘Scheduled District Act’ 1874; again GoI Act of 1919 clubbed all the Scheduled Districts as ‘Backward Tracts’, the administration of which areas were empowered under Section 52(A) providing exclusiveness from rest of Bengal. These areas were exclusive in the sense that they formed (1) border states to foreign countries and (2). the population were ethnically different regional wise to the rest of India and therefore sensitive comparatively to any other parts of India.
Conclusion: These characteristics were latently sensitive particularly, in the federation process of the Indian states and principalities. In light of this distinctive and sensitive issue erstwhile Assam and Darjeeling district (from erstwhile country of Sikkim and Bhutan) were treated extraordinarily provided by special constitutional provisions as above.
The inclusion of Darjeeling district with Assam should have been the right process, which being discarded by the powers that be, both the British and Bengal have participated in taking away the regional identity of Darjeeling district, by providing territorial inclusion with Bengal instead of Assam which was its natural counterpart. This is the main issue of contention, which needs to be addressed and justified by Bengal and adjudicated by the Centre, for reversing the process or in lieu granting statehood for Darjeeling District and adjoining Duars, to right the historical wrong in denying the Darjeeling hill people the due process of federation in the Indian unity. This has been unjustly undermined in the constitutional process read with application of undemocratic norms in fulfilling the ambition of Bengal, by depriving the Darjeeling hill people of their rightful claim in achieving the statehood had it been within Assam, and not under the dominant rule of Bengal. The minority rights have been impinged by a dominant ruling class within a state denied its separation from its natural affiliation Assam, nay infact the entire northeast states.
Darjeeling has claim to being a component of the northeast as any of the present northeast states. As earlier stated Darjeeling district and Duars are part of erstwhile Sikkim (now a state in the Union) and Bhutan (a country), which parental components still exists in form and territory. The emphasis here is that Darjeeling District and the Duars are antithetic to West Bengal, which state seemed to have practiced unethical means, immorally and undemocratically in maneuvering Darjeeling district and Duars in ambit to territorial gains. This constitutional depravity must be constitutionally amended to an amicable solution that is, providing statehood for the Darjeeling hills and Duars.
The regional identity and its inclusive and exclusive features within the fold of the northeast, is documented and evident in the GoI Act 1935, Part III, The Governor’s Provinces, Chapter V, Excluded Areas and Partially Excluded Areas Section 311 Interpretations, etc –
‘India’ means British India together with all territories of any Indian Ruler, under the suzerainty of His Majesty, all territories under the suzerainty of such an Indian Ruler, the tribal areas, and, any other territories which His Majesty in Council may, from time to time, after ascertaining the views of the Federal Government and the Federal legislature, declare to be part of India.
Note: The above text clearly reflects that areas under the phraseology ‘Excluded’ and ‘Partially Excluded Areas’ were under the administrative purview of the Governor, specifically to ascertain the views of the Federal Government and the Federal legislature in order to declare the areas to be part of India. In other words these areas had not been totally and formally absorbed, which condition was kept in abeyance for a future proper date.
‘Burma’ includes (subject to the exercise by His Majesty of any powers vested in him with respect to the alteration of the boundaries thereof) all territories which were immediately before the commencement of Part III of this Act comprised in India being territories lying to the east of Bengal, the State of Manipur, Assam, and any tribal areas connected with Assam.
Note: The ‘Excluded’ and ‘Partially Excluded Areas’ being border areas to the various bordering states in the northeast, had a specific dividing border to the rest of India. The dividing border line was the territories lying to the east of Bengal. In other words, Darjeeling district and the Duars lying East of Bengal and any tribal areas connected with Assam, automatically prevails the district as exclusive from Bengal, while at the same time, occupying the territory inside Bengal, which is the contention that, the district has never been part of Bengal in the true sense of the term.
‘Tribal Areas” means the areas along the frontiers of India or in Baluchistan which are not part of British India or of Burma or of any Indian State or of any foreign State.
Note: That Darjeeling district was included in the ‘Excluded’ and ‘Partially Excluded Areas’ constituted tribal areas along the frontiers of India sharing common borders with Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim (then a country).
While the Govt. of Bengal introducing the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2007 and the Constitution (One Hundred and Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2007, in respect of the Gorkha Hill Council Darjeeling (GHCD) is seen to be violative of the provisions of the Indian Constitution in applying the Sixth Schedule provisions to the DGHC without changing the territorial area of the State in the Sixth Schedule, which is a required precondition as applied to the state of Assam, and the districts provided with autonomy. It is seen from this blatant misuse of Constitutional mechanism that Bengal intended to violate, whether intentionally or otherwise constitutional provisions in order to hold the territorial area of Darjeeling district within its fold, whether rightly or wrongly. From the preceding successive arguments, the Govt. of West Bengal is liable to explain the rationale of their overture in extending the Sixth Schedule provisions to a particular district of the State which is not in the Schedule itself.
On compilation of relevant historical datas, speaking clearly the implications of the GoI Acts in the important portfolio of administrative reforms and various other rules and regulations is specifically applied to particular areas, or otherwise not applied is indicative of the socio-economic, cultural and political structure of the prevailing population within the defined area. This regional feature is clearly specific to geophysical locations within certain physical boundaries linking other nation states, provincial, national or foreign, in which various regional backward less developed societies (compared to the dominant population of India) co-exists among different groups, having their individual history, culture and background. This is visibly the distinct feature of the Northeast whose population composes of Tibeto-Burman and Indo-Burman language/dialect speaking population groups. Most of these groups (tribes) inhabited erstwhile Assam, which province, under the scheme for the federalization of the country as provided in the Constitution 1950 have succeeded in obtaining their respective regional identity by achieving their own states under the title ‘Excluded Areas’ (wherein the administration is reserved exclusively to the Governor’s discretion in responsibility to Parliament), and ‘Partially Excluded Area’ the Governor consults the Ministers and seeks their advice, but not bound to act upon them. Herewith the federation process of all the areas achieving the regional identity under various constitutional process for study as below:-
1. 1949-10-15: Tripura merged with India as a centrally administered area (CAA)
1956-09-01: Status of Tripura changed from CAA to Union Territory (UT)
1972-01-21: Tripura UT changed to a State
2. 1972-01-21: Manipur UT changed to a State
States originating from ‘Excluded Areas’
1. 1971-01-20: From Assam splits Mizoram UT (Lushai Hills)
1986- 07 : Mizoram UT changed to a State
2. 1957-12-09: From Assam splits Naga Hills – Tuensang Area to become CAA
1963-12-01: Naga Hills (Tuensang) CAA becomes Nagaland (State)
3. 1972-01-20: From Assam splits Arunachal Pradesh UT (before the split
Arunachal Pradesh referred to as North East Frontier Agency)
1987-02-20: Arunachal Pradesh UT changed to a State.
States originating from ‘Partially Excluded Areas’
1. 1972-01-20: From Assam splits (Khasi & Jaintia Hill and Garo Hills) to become
The point to stress from the above changes is the federation process of the various border areas and districts converted into Union State. In short, the titles ‘Excluded Areas’ and ‘Partially Excluded Areas’ were out of the ambit of the Indian State till the areas were formally converted into Indian territory under the Constitution.
Darjeeling District came under the following titles:
1874 Scheduled District
1919 Scheduled District to Backward Tract
1936 Backward Tract to ‘Excluded’ and ‘Partially Excluded’ Ordinance wherein, Darjeeling district was clubbed under ‘Partially Excluded Area’ along with (Khasi & Jaintia Hills and Garo Hills) Meghlaya.
Immediately after the GoI Act of 1935, when Darjeeling District came under ‘Excluded Areas’ and Partially Excluded Areas’, in the following year elections were held in Bengal and the Darjeeling district unwittingly participated in the process of becoming inclusive to Bengal from its long time exclusivity, by sending an elected member to the provincial Assembly. Since then, Darjeeling District, inadvertently or premeditatively has been made to loose its distinct hill regional identity subsumed by the dominancy of the state, directed to prevent the former from inspiring to achieve statehood, which it had been demanding since the 1900’s. The soul function of the ‘Excluded Area’ and ‘Partially Excluded Area’ had preserved the exclusivity of the District since 1835, after which it slowly evolved to its present state, only to be the sacrificial lamb to be served to the state from erstwhile areas of the countries of Sikkim and Bhutan. The fateful sacrificial year was 1937.
The learned bureaucrats, State legislatures and Parliamentarians must be alerted on the functions of ‘Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas’ and its literal connotation, relevant application to the then ongoing due federation process of British India To understand the meaning, the title and the phraseological contents is not instantly visible to the naked eye.
It requires to be explained by the British initiators themselves, who were versatile in the art of using their language in conveying message to their subjective interest and intent, without upsetting the table nor the applecart. This was the greatness of English language and British diplomacy which India was fortunate to be exposed. These later became guidelines for successive governance, to govern the vast population, diverse in varietal contents in every regard, preserving the specific individual and regional identifications. At the same time programmed the evolution of future states while preserving the nature of federalism, their traits and nuisances to comprise the body polity, India. There is no country on earth multi-colored in every shades and hues of population ethnology in comparison. The British realizing this, brilliantly and diligently laid the foundations of the Constitution, under the existing precepts. The founding fathers of the Indian Constitution have discovered the source of information while in erudition writing the Preamble and the Articles for governing the Constituent India.
In this vein of thought, the reading and meaning of ‘Excluded’ and ‘Partially Excluded Areas’ requires to be explained and confirmed without prejudice or kind, but the simple situational ground reality. These are conspicuously worded in the following quote in the House of Parliament in 1935, ‘ if your Lordships give your assent to this Order, something like 50% of the total number of people in India who maybe described as aboriginal tribes or as very primitive peoples will come under the operation of this Order …..the number of totally excluded areas is not great …chiefly in the border tracts of Assam (assumed Darjeeling district preserved under the regional identity of erstwhile Assam – east of Bengal) ……..it is inhabited by very primitive peoples, living in heavily wooded and mountainous country …they are very liable to suffer when they come into contact with the more sophisticated peoples of the plains, …..that measures should be taken to protect them against exploitation by their more sophisticated neighbours…..akin to that of putting the innocent lamb and the rapacious wolf into one cage’. The conversion of Darjeeling district from ‘Scheduled District’ to ‘Backward Tracts’ and finally to ‘Partially Excluded Area’ in 1935, was the stage of rigorous mortoris to arise finally now as the sphinx, to protect its inhabitants. The govt. of India in their despatch say ‘the broad effect of partial exclusion is simply to subject the normal legislative and executive jurisdiction of the province in selected areas to a degree of personal control by the government….that there is an essential necessity for treating these backward parts of India in the special way proposed, and secondly, that the actual areas which are to be so treated have been defined after an exhaustive examination with care by the local governments and the Government of India…..Joint Selection Committee was very apprehensive of the effect of aboriginal tribes of a sudden inrush of modernization in the form of a new Democratic Provincial Government. We were in doubt as to whether the scope of the excluded areas was wide enough ….are satisfied on the whole that it is so’.
This indicated the civil and moral genuiness of the British rulers of the depressed classes, in order not to be undermined by the dominant population, in the process of democratic federalization of the country in progress then, and still presumed to be now.
The wise leaders of the nation standing in the August house of Parliament, as well as the Honorable members of the state legislatures, need read and understand what the British House of Parliament had to say, while passing the ensuing Bill (‘Excluded Area’ and ‘Partially Excluded Areas’).
In light of the explanation, the Centre and State need discuss the issue as equal amongst elder statesman, and reconsider the containment of Darjeeling district in spirit of the Constitution and Indian nationalism in discussing the constitutional relevancy of statehood for the mountain people of Darjeeling District and Duars, as demanded. The people simply aspire to acquire what is considered their birthright, and not exact an inch from Bengal. In reverse identity, Bengal requires to free the portion of area which does not belong to Bengal, historically, as well as under democratic constitutional provisions. Bengal is advised not to gloat and bask in past glory of the hory past, but, prepare to determine a greater glory in evolving a future – when Bengal and Gorkhaland meet as ‘blood brothers –simply as Indians.
The centripetal forces of Indian federation is the very essence of national ecological ethos, which, if imbalanced by societal digress and degradation, is seen to induce fermentation of centrifugal reaction. The assurance for federalisms is decentralizing by division, smaller states, to deliver their regional space specifics, which are seen, sucked down by the vortex of provincial administrative reforms, exclusive to the minority population. The answer to the issue is simple; the vested parties adhere to the Constitutional norms and reforms, clearly imprinted in the physiognomy of the different and various populations in the Indian sub-continent.
If all the above wrongs are to be relieved from the quagmire of Bengal’s mishandling of the Darjeeling issue, a spirit of forgive and let live should be the spirit of the moment, and in consequence of the damage implied to the Darjeeling hill peoples for past many years, maybe amended amicably by settling the issue with the formation of a separate state of Darjeeling District and Duars.
The roadmap on the trail to statehood for Darjeeling District and Duars titled-Gorkhaland is a blazing one, well documented in the Indian national archives and the British museum. The betrayal of the Darjeeling hill peoples has been blatant, undemocratic and unconstitutional. This legal argumentation may even be adjudicated in a court of law to differentiate the water from the milk or vice versa depending upon the percentage of water input under the prevailing system of demagogic governments placed as the alter-ego of democracy. (http://www.darjeelingtimes.com/news/news/Roadmap-on-the-trail-to-Gorkhaland.html)