Seminar on Contribution of Gorkhas for development in North East/India

Nanda Kirati Dewan
Born on 29th February 1988 at Chandanpur under Merapani, Golaghat, Nanda is currently pursuing BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from SMU in Guwahati. He is honorary Public Relation Secretary of Kreative Klickers’ (KK); a human right activist.. interested in feature, lifestyle, education and developmental journalism and is a City Correspondent for Assam Times in Guwahati. He can be contacted at nandadewan@gmail.com

“Nation needs to identify Gorkhas as Indian” – this was the opinion by Manash Choudhury, Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Govt. of Meghalaya while releasing a book titled  ‘The Gurkhas’ at the seminar on ‘Contribution of Gorkhas for development in North East/India’ at Marwari Vishram Bhawan organized by Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (Meghalaya State) in Shillong. Mr. Choudhury outlined that the main stream Indian policy makers should accept and recognize Gorkhas as first class Indian citizen and give due respect to the infinite contributions made instead of treating them step brotherly.  Prof Munish Tamang of Delhi University, Joel Rai Deputy Editor India Today, Swaraj Thapa, Bureau Chief The Financial Express all core committee members of Central Progamming Cell BGP expressed views on behalf of Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangha. They put forward authentic datas of Gorkhas and outlined the contributions of Gorkhas in various fields in the nation building process. The speakers spoke on possibilities of Gorkha’s contribution in Vision 2020 India and the magnitude of their abilities. They recalled the sacrifices for the cause of the nation by Gorkhas since 200 plus years now. Unanimously the speakers lamented on the conspiracy of the administrators and bureaucrats who made a blue print to isolate the existence of Gorkhas.

Papers were represented by Prof Imdad Hussain of North Eastern Hill University(NEHU) who is an acclaimed anthropologist of the region and Dr. Purushotam Bhandari, an academician and research fellow of repute. Dr Bhandari in his paper mentioned about the indigenousity of Gorkhas in the Brahmaputra valley – Limbu a constiuent tribe of Gorkhas lived in bank of Barak and Brahmaputra valley who proves that Gorkhas are the real Son of Soil. He made a consensus appeal that more research work has to be done on it and presented before the people so that it can be debated.

Among the distinguished attendants were T B Subba former Vice Chancellor North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), President and Secretary and executive members of 22 state committees of BGP. The seminar was presided over by Dr. Enos Das Pradhan President of Central Progamming Cell BGP and hosted by Meghalaya State Committee BGP.

Arjun awardee boxer Jaslal Pradhan was felicitated in the event. (Assam Times)

Resurgence of the Gorkhas

Pinky Pradhan

The once silent hills of Darjeeling, has grabbed the attention of the central Government and Indian Nepali diaspora. From being a sleepy tourist town, the towering hills are being ravaged by demands from two dissentious groups: the implementation of sixth schedule status vs. a separate statehood- ‘gorkhaland’.The angst however, is not limited within Darjeeling itself. Sizeable Indian Nepali populations from states like Delhi, Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim and others are closely taking part in it. Questions like –‘can the tag of being honest feed us?’, ‘can tourism be a year long industry for feeding the people?’, ‘can sixth schedule remove all barriers?’ mirrors their anguish.

“I was born in Assam and have my roots there, but this doesn’t stop me from supporting the demand for a long overdue ‘gorkhaland’ ”, says Dhiren Thapa, a college student presently studying in Delhi.

Let us take a minute and question ourselves as to why the peace loving ethnic Nepalis/gurkhas are all of a sudden demanding a separate statehood? Is it just a passing fashion or an attempt by ambitious politicians to raise their profile and votes? Is it really about ‘statehood’?

I think the issue is much deeper; the angst beyond what is obvious. Whether we like to hear about it or not, but the truth is, Nepalis have been the subject of racist jokes and ridicule. Be it in movies or TV serials, Nepalis are always shown as characters playing the part of a ‘chowkidaar’ with a very funny ‘shaab jee’ accent. As if they are not capable of anything else.

This stereotyping was clearly visible, when recently an RJ of a popular radio passed unsavory comments on the newly crowned Indian Idol, Prashant Tamang from Darjeeling. Hinting at his ethnicity, he said that now houses are going to be unguarded, since every gorkhas or ‘bahadur’ can aspire to be an Indian Idol.

This abuse is not limited to the periphery of media alone. Even reputed schools and colleges are said to discriminate student with regard to their ethnicity. “I clearly remember how my teacher used to single me out and call me names based on my Nepali ethnicity. My classmates and the local guys used to tease me calling names such as ‘kanchee’, it was a very humiliating experience”, recounts Padma Pradhan from Guwahati, Assam. It is also unfortunate that the gorkhas or ‘doaars’ have been abused as aliens in their own country by some of the so called anti-social elements of North Bengal.

Therefore for the common Nepali the status of Darjeeling as gorkhaland is a symbol of hope and resurgence. But the irony is- nobody cares for the hopes, aspiration and conflicting identity of millions of Indian Nepalis.

Let us now re-focus ourselves on Darjeeling. Statements like, ‘Darjeeling, is it in Meghalaya?’, ‘I like Darjeeling tea’, ‘what a great place for budget tourist’ are very common statement made by the ignorant country fellowmen. Can people look at Darjeeling beyond a tourist destination and a tea vending hill? Why can’t people acknowledge that it also the land which sings song of valour and has a position of pride in the Indian Defense forces? Even a minority community likes ‘gujjars’ from North India captures the main national headlines and imagination of all than the decade long agitation of the gorkhas.

Let us admit that Darjeeling is in a state of shambles. Unemployment is on a rampant in the absence of avenues apart from the tea and tourism industry (even the tea industry is facing the problem of lockouts).The only resort left from many is to migrate to bigger cities and metros and join the BPOs (business process outsourcing) – the back office destination. May be we ourselves are to be blamed for this deprived state or it’s the stereotyping by our country fellowmen. There may be many arguments but one thing is for sure if we let things work just as they are then surely we are ought to dig our own grave.

The same problem was faced by the northeastern states and to some extent even today, but the degree is little less than before. It was due to the untiring efforts of their leaders in drawing national attention, be it in the parliament or in their respective states .The role of student organizations is also notable. All Assam Student Organization (AASU) played a commendable role in scrapping of IMDT Act 1983 which paved way for detection of illegal immigrants without complexities as posed by the previous Act.

During the recent GJMM (Gorkha Janmukti Morcha) meeting, the delegates quoted that statehood is the only solution to the ongoing problems and that it would fulfill the age old demand of the Indian gorkhas. Whether Darjeeling is granted statehood or the sixth schedule is implemented, that only time will tell us. Meanwhile, my fingers are crossed.
With inputs from Kamal Pradhan (Assam Times)

Gorkhas of Assam extends support to Gorkhaland demand

Nanda Kirati Dewan

Chief spokesperson of Gorkha Autonomous Council Demand Committee (GACDC) the political wing of All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union (AAGSU) in Assam Mr. Purna Chetri speaking as a Special Guest of Honour  at the 194th Bhanu Jayanti and 1st Bi-nennial Conference of Bokajan Regional Committee of AAGSU at Talbalijan Birsa Munda Mini Stadium, Sariahajan (Bokajan) in Karbianglong extended full co-operation to the Gorkhaland statehood demand in West Bengal. He added that the culture, tradition and language of Gorkhas no where resemble the counterpart Bengalis so there is no means of staying within the same geographical entity. For the larger interest of Gorkhas the Govt. of West Bengal and Govt. of India should create Gorkhaland within the territory of West Bengal at the earliest possible without further involving in blood shedding politics. He informed the media and the general people that AAGSU and GACDC two apex bodies of Gorkhas of Assam in a resolution have supported the statehood demand of Gorkhaland. He even called upon the state government to fulfill its promise of providing Gorkha Development Council for the all-round development of Gorkhas of Assam. It needs to mention here that over the past few years after the silver jubilee of 1976 born All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union (AAGSU), the student body has been demanding Gorkha Autonomous Council (GAC) within the territory of Assam on satellite basis meanwhile the Chief Minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi declared January 21st in the open session of Assam Gorkha Sammelan at Digboi to provide Gorkha Development Council along with six other agitating communities.

Addressing as Chief Guest Dil Bahadur Limboo, President All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union (AAGSU) recalled the contributions of veteran Freedom fighter Babu Chabilal Upadhyay whose contribution went unrecorded in the History of Assam. He said that it was Chabilal Upadhyay under whose presidentship the then Assam Association was converted into now Assam Pradesh Congress Committee(APCC) whose product is our CM Tarun Gogoi. But then the ruling Congress has forgotten the contribution of this particular person who is equivalent to Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi. He lamented that the Govt. of Assam refused to even stand a bronze statue of the veteran leader at his birth place in Tezpur meanwhile airport, roads and several statues of his colleague Gopinath Bordoloi has been raised. It is a conspiracy hatched to uproot the identity of Gorkhas in Assam he added

He even reiterated that the Gorkhas of Assam have always been very loyal to their motherland so they even called Assamese as their mother tongue at the call Ambikagiri Rai Choudhury as there was threat from Bengali language to the existence of Assamese as official language. Socially, economically, politically, culturally and even historically the  Gorkhas have contributed for the cause of Assam and at large India. On the august occasion of birth anniversary of a great poet he paid his heartfelt homage and called up[on youth to follow good ideologies of great personalities.

Earlier delivering his keynote address  Harkha Bahadur Chetri, President, Gorkha Autonomous Council Demand Committee (GACDC) said that demand of Gorkha Autnomous Council is result of Government failure of resolving our other small demands to identify Gorkhas as 1st class citizen in Assam. He called upon the youth to prepare for democratic protest to achieve their identity of being the 1st class historically contributing Gorkha community in Assam. He said that Gorkhas of Assam are the siblings of those who became a part of sovereign India after the historic 1816 Sagooly treaty between East India Company and Nepal monarch where in a large part of then Nepal upto Goalpara of now Assam was inducted into India for administrative reforms. Technically to divide and rule and always question the citizenship the Gorkhas the Indo Nepal friendship Treaty was signed in 1950 by  Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru the 1st prime minister of independent India with then Nepal monarch. AAGSU had earlier demanded withdrawal of clauses vi and vii of Indo Nepal Friendship Treaty (1950) and issue passport visa system for reciprocal visit by the citizen of either countries so that genuine Indian Gorkhas citizenship is not questioned and smelt over frequent visit by the  foreigners from the neighborhood. GACDC is commited to create Gorkha Autnomous Council to solve all problems and issues, he added. 28 members organization of Peoples Committee for Peace Initiative in Assam(PCPIA) have extrended moral and a few have given written assurance in support of Gorkha Autonomous Council.

The open session thronged by more than 5500 people was attended by Biren Singh Engti the only MP from the Autonous Hills District K/A and NC Hills, Mangal Singh Engti Chief Executive Member (CEM) Karbianglong Autonomous Council(KAAC) who answered the queries of student leaders , Pitambar Gurung President, Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangha, Assam State Committee and several other dignitaries including representatives of students’ union of all communities of Assam. All the leaders echoed in same voice and extended full support to creation of Gorkha Autonomous council in Assam.  (Assam Times)