Gorkha Janamukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung, who has been aggressively pushing for a separate state for the Gorkhas

Debashis Bhattacharyya

A weak sun peeps out of a veil of clouds. casting a soft glow on the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha’s office in the working class neighbourhood of Patlabas in Darjeeling. This morning the party office seems deserted except for a handful of workmen busy roofing the front yard with clear plastic sheets.

 

Suddenly, one of the office doors flings open. A gaggle of young girls, draped in traditional Nepali wraparounds, skips out. A man emerges from another room with a boom box. A lilting mountain song starts playing and the girls break out into a dance.

As if on cue, a blue Bolero jeep. bearing the licence plate GL-A-02-5687 – the acronym GL standing for non-existent Gorkhaland – comes to a halt outside. Wearing a peacock blue Nepali kurta pyajama and an inky Gurkha cap, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) boss Bimal Gurung hops out.

The music and the dance stop as abruptly as they had started. The uncrowned “king” of the hills- who is leading an agitation for a separate state called Gorkhaland and whose writ now runs almost unchallenged in much of Darjeeling – strides up the steps and disappears into his office. His room is labelled “pahar Id rani” or queen of the hills, an epithet so far reserved for Darjeeling.

A full-sized portrait of Sai Baba hangs above him in his small cluttered office. From a framed photograph atop a cupboard, Art of Living guru Ravi Shankar too, stares at him. On arrival, he performs a puja, tinkling a small bell and paying obeisance to an idol of Lord Ganesha. “I am on a fast,” he says, handing me some sweets as prasad. “God has created us and given us everything. You must show your respect to Him,” he says. Clearly, Bimal Gurung, 44, has turned religious, even as he leads a not-sopeaceful agitation for Gorkhaland.

For Gurung, the road to becoming the GJM chief has been long and tough. At 11 he took up sledgehammers to break rocks on the roadside for a few rupees. He also carried heavy loads on his back to help feed his six-member, poverty-stricken family

Much as he wanted to, he could never get past eighth grade in school. “Both my parents worked in a tea garden and had no time to put the four of us – two brothers and two sisters -through school,” he says.

Gurung was barely 20 years old when he got sucked into the bloody Gorkhaland movement in 1986, led by his mentor-turnedfoe Subash Ghisingh, the leader of the Gorkha National Liberation Front. That’s when he traded sledgehammers for guns.

Gurung says he felt “let down” when. after a 28-month-long violent agitation, Ghisingh settled for the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) in a tripartite agreement he signed with the West Bengal and Union governments in August 1988. Gurung went underground. eventually turning himself over to the authorities in 1991.

He was jailed for 60 days. After his release, he spent the better part of the 1990s fighting a plethora of serious charges against him. As his lawyer-turned-confidant Amer Lama recalls, Gurung had to battle six to seven major cases filed against him, chiefly on charges of murder and illegally possessing firearms. “All the cases against me have been dismissed for want of evidence,” Gurung says. Now, a gun – or for that matter violence – is the last thing on his mind. Or so he says. “We want to achieve Gorkhaland through democratic agitation, without resorting to Gorkha Janamukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung, who has been aggressively pushing for a separate state for the Gorkhas, tells Debashis Bhattacharyya that he is using non-violent means to achieve his goal violence,” he says repeatedly during a 45minute-long conversation.

If anything, he says he is following Mahatma Gandhi’s “non-violent” ways- Yes, he has seen Loge Ratio Mum= Bhai and he liked the film. But with a sweep of his hand, he dismisses a question on whether he was inspired by the Bollywood blockbuster starring Sanjay Duff.

“We believe in Mahatma’s ideals but Gorkhas have made so many sacrifices for the nation. The nation now owes us justice, and a state of our own,” Gurung says.

However, though Gurung says that he believes in Gandhigiri, GJM’s every move reflects a flexing of muscles. His “boys” have draped the hill town with computer printouts of “Gorkhaland” that are stuck everywhere, from shop windows to office doors.

Car owners – and many cabbies -have been forced to change their licence plates from WB (West Bengal) to GL (Gorkhaland). The party has also imposed a dress code of sorts on the Nepalis in the hills, asking both men and women to wear their traditional attire.

In the words of All India Gorkha League president Madan Tamang, Gurung’s GJM has snuffed all political life out of the hills. “They are tearing down our flags, not allowing the Opposition to hold any rally in the hills. They seized my house. This party is a threat to democracy, a threat to the nation,” says Tamang, who supports the demand for Gorkhaland.

Gurung argues that laying siege to Tamang’s house was not undemocratic and that his party launched the month-long cultural campaign – which involves wearingtraditional clothes and performing Nepali songs and dances in public – to make a strong case for Gorkhaland. “Unlike what the ministers from Bengal are saying, we want to prove that we not only look different but our language and culture are different too,” he says.

For Bimal Gurung, Gorkhaland is as much a battle for “Gorkha identity” as it is a struggle to come to terms with personal grief. He lost his daju — older brother Bijay -to the first agitation for a separate state in the late eighties. That still haunts him. “I simply can’t get over it,” he says, his eyes turning moist.

Gurung may have been born in penury but he now runs a thriving business supplying sand, pebbles and boulders for construction. At Gok, not very far from Darjeeling, he has a 70-acre farm, where he grows fruits and vegetables. Besides, he has some 20 cows and 90 lambs that produce milk. wool and meat. “I employ 600 to 700 people. But I still go there and sometimes water the trees and milk the cows. I don’t want to forget my humble background,” Gurung says with a tinge of pride.

Besides using his own four trucks, he says he has a number of hired vehicles to transport the construction materials. “All this is the fruit of my labour,” he says, when asked how he has amassed the wealth.

With money no object. Gurung, needless to say, has put his two children through school. Both his son Abinash (19) and daughter Nanda (21) are in Bangalore. pursuing a degree in science and law, respectively “They are doing what I couldn’t…” he pauses. Then, he adds, almost as an aside, “In this age of the computer and the Internet. we cannot ask our children to take up kukris (short, curved Nepali knives) as we did during the last agitation. They are too educated for that. You have to devise other means to achieve Gorkhaland.”

His party leaders talk of the way Gurung has transformed himself from being a “militant activist” TO an emerging leader of the Gorkhas in the hills. “He has learnt to keep his temper and say and do the right thing at the right time,” a longtime associate says.

Clearly, a lot has changed about him_ The last time I met him at his party office-in November 2007 – he was in fatigues. a la an army man. With a wristband and a bandana his swagger, then, was unmistakable_ But now, with “people making me a leader- he says he prefers to wear only traditional clothes.

Gurung may have driven Ghisingh out of the hills of Darjeeling for the “sellout of the Gorkhas” but he shares with him an interest in astrology and, some say, in the occult. He says the name of his party came to him in a dream. “It has a deeper meaning, which I won’t disclose,” the leader says. His faith in numerology has prompted him to make “GL” stand for Gorkhaland on licence plates even though it is a single word. In much the same way, party leaders refer to Gorkha Janamukti Morcha as “GJMM.”

Little wonder that Gurung seems certain that Gorkhaland will come about in 2010. “We have started negotiations. I will give it just two years,” he says with an air of finality.

But what if his prediction goes wrong? He narrows his eyes, sets his jaws and flashes me a look – the same wild look that I saw in his eyes a year ago. Clearly, some things about him haven’t changed.

Darjeeling had better prepare for a long winter. (The Telegraph)

MORE THAN JUST A STYLE STATEMENT – The diktat on traditional attire violates the spirit of the movement that put the GJM on centre stage

 

The first time I saw the television footage of young men and women wearing daura sural and choubandi farayi milling about the Mall, I mistook Darjeeling for a remote hill town somewhere in the Northeast. Then I learnt about the dress code imposed on college students there by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. It came as a shock. During the six years I had taught at the government college in Darjeeling in the 1990s, I was never known as a lenient teacher. But I could never award my students anything short of full marks for their perfect dress sense on all occasions. In fact, one of the great mysteries that I have not been able to solve is how they could maintain such an immaculate wardrobe and clean, sparkling hair in a town where water taps remain bone dry for half the year. Come sun or rain, they would always be nattily dressed in crisp blazers and colourful cardigan suits and turn the foggiest of days bright and cheerful.

On my subsequent visits to Darjeeling, I was pleased to find that the sartorial flair of the town’s youth has not only thrived, but with the winds of globalization blowing, has become bold and creative. While this has helped sustain the cosmopolitan feel of the town, for the youth of Darjeeling, fashion is truly a statement: they want to make it known that they are a part of the youth brigade of the new, metropolitan India. The fatwa that asks college students to wear traditional attire, and sanctions blackening of faces for those who do not conform, strikes at the heart of this statement.

Such diktats go against the broad tenor of the movement that brought the GJM and its leaders into the political centre stage. Darjeeling has long been a melting pot of different ethnicities and cultures. The most remarkable achievement of Subash Ghisingh during the earlier movement was to bind these different groups — consisting of people of Lepcha, Bhutia, Nepali and other origins — into a political entity called the ‘Gorkha’. This paid him rich dividends and, despite corruption and misrule, kept him in power for nearly two decades. Trouble began when he started to undo his achievement by asking the hill people to cultivate their distinctive tribal and ethnic identities, in order to pave the way for the Sixth Schedule status of the Darjeeling hills. Tribal practices were re-introduced. For the young people, who have grown up in the liberal cosmopolitan atmosphere of the hill station, this bizarre journey back to a primitive future was the last straw. There was also a threat to the multi-ethnic fabric of the hill society.

The revolt was swift and unexpected. Last year, the youth in the hills rose like a futuristic tribe: Prashant Tamang, an Indian Idol contestant, was their totem; internet and telecommunication were the new rituals. The man who engineered this cultural upsurge, and turned it into a political tsunami, was Bimal Gurung. This movement is still in a state of flux and it would be imprudent to predict its course now. But in its initial stages, it had some refreshing features.

Although there hasn’t yet been a woman among the Morcha leaders, young women have so far been an impressive presence in the rallies. A few months back, they made news by setting up community prisons, where local drunkards were put behind bars. This has reportedly curbed alcoholism among the hill youth. Then, Mahatma Gandhi’s portraits were displayed at the sites of hunger strike. Just as Tamang’s claim to fame rested on a culture spawned by Hindi movies that is essentially pan-Indian in character, the popularity of “Gandhigiri” as an effective instrument of social change is also a Bollywood invention. But seldom have we seen the presence of Gandhi and the absence of a local luminary in a political movement based on regional identity anywhere else in the country.

Such features distinguished the present movement from the earlier one led by Ghisingh. One could sense the stirrings of a civil society behind the various programmes initiated by the youth. Unfortunately, the ruling dispensation in Bengal failed to recognize this and did not apply the kind of informed sensitivity that this movement deserved. It would be sad if the leaders of the movement now make the mistake of pushing the aspirations of the hill youth into the straitjacket of a run-of-the-mill agitation.

The young people of Darjeeling look as smart in their traditional garb as in anything else. But they should have the freedom of choice. For them, fashion is not just a part of life but a way of breaking free from the stereotypes. It would be unfortunate if the path of the present movement leads to ethnic stereotyping in order to emphasize the ‘otherness’ of the hill people.

IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

 

The demand for a separate state is being heard loudly again all over the Darjeeling hills for more than a year now. But the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the party at the forefront of the movement, seems to have landed itself in a quagmire now by practising a kind of politics that discards the ground realities. One year into the movement, it is time for the Morcha to reassess it programmes and strategies to pull off something beyond symbolic victories.

Overthrowing Subash Ghisingh, the leader of the Gorkha National Liberation Front, who had ruled the hills for nearly twenty years, was easy for the Morcha. The GJM leader, Bimal Gurung, could capitalize on the people’s frustration for having to endure years of political ineptitude and constant interference in their socio-cultural life. Having got rid of Ghisingh, the Morcha suddenly seems to have lost itself in an open playfield from where there are no roads down which it can go. This is perhaps the most challenging phase of the Gorkhaland movement and the leaders are yet to prove that they have identified the right path.

Instead of making sustained efforts to generate goodwill towards the statehood demand in the Centre, Gurung’s party is now busy enlisting the support of the hill people, who are in any case total converts to the cause of Gorkhaland. The Morcha’s earlier strategy of non-cooperation with the state government was understandable as a policy aimed at hurting the enemy. The hill people had stopped paying all forms of state taxes, including telephone and electricity bills, to the government. However, when the state government had just started feeling the pinch, with the collective electricity bill dues crossing the Rs 9 crore mark, the Morcha decided to pay the bills for a period of three months starting from October.

Then the Morcha decided to go ahead with its agenda of switching the number plates of cars from WB (West Bengal) to GL (Gorkhaland) as part of its “home rule” movement. This is a sore issue, which threatens to divide the hills and the plains once again. The area of the proposed Gorkhaland includes Siliguri and parts of the Terai and the Dooars (that falls in the Jalpaiguri district), apart from the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong. The majority of the people living in Siliguri and Dooars have not taken kindly to the switching of number plates, largely refusing to use GL in their vehicles.

The Morcha’s programme of making the people wear traditional dresses during the festive season also hit a sour note with the front turning it into a diktat. An appeal would have been more acceptable. And when the hill people had virtually accepted the dress code, those who had refused to wear the attire were smeared with black paint right in the heart of Darjeeling.

There are some basic principles of politics that even novice politicians should understand. A party cannot keep inconveniencing its supporters and still hope to get their support, especially when it is unable to deliver the goods with any consistency. If one gets branded as anti-Gorkhaland simply on refusing to accept the party’s diktat, one is bound to be offended. The Morcha needs to consider the people’s psychology before being brash with them.

The political history of the hills show that the civil society here has always lived under the shadow of the political bigwigs. When Morcha supporters applied black paint on the people, few came forward to condemn the act. This only goes to show the helplessness of the hill people. There is a clear need for the people of the hills to be more aware of their rights and responsibilities. Political parties too must start functioning on the basis of ideologies, and not just emotions.

Politics in the hills has never been practised in a systematic way. It is well known that the Gorkhaland movement largely owes its success to the support it receives from the adivasi community in the Terai and Dooars. And yet, apart from changing the name of the Morcha to the Gorkha Janmukti Adivasi Morcha in the region, no sustained effort to retain the tribal community’s cooperation has yet been made. It comes as no surprise then that the Adivasi Vikash Parishad is gradually convincing the tribal community to refrain from joining the Gorkhaland movement. It is time that the Morcha concentrates more on the Dooars and the Terai than on the Darjeeling hills.

It is also time that the intellectuals debate whether the demand for Gorkhaland is to be argued on the basis of identity or of development. If Gorkhaland is about differentiating the Indian Gorkhas from the citizens of Nepal and asserting their place in the mainstream, then there can be no plausible reason for the adivasi communities to support the movement. However, if the Morcha maintains that better development is why the new state needs to be created, then, of course, there is a slew of other alternatives to statehood that can serve that cause just as well .

Gurung had repeatedly promised a Gorkhaland by 2010, and the hill people have unconditionally stood by him. If Gurung’s promise is to come true in two years, the front has to stop going round and round in the Darjeeling hills. It should expand its support base by taking into account the wishes and desires of people living elsewhere as well.

 (The Telegraph)

“The failure of the Tripartite movement will be better for us” Bimal Gurung

FROM THE HIMALAYAN BEACON [BEACON ONLINE] BY BARUN ROY

DARJEELING: “After the 7th of November the Gorkhaland movement will be intensifed,” speaking to the people at Chowrasta, Darjeeling on the occasion of a cultural rally taken out by the people of Singla, Tukvar and Lebong Constituency, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha President, Bimal Gurung said. “There are plans of deploying Central Reserve Police Force and the Sashatra Seema Bal (Armed Border Police) in the Hills. We will not engage them in any sort. However, I warn the West Bengal Government not to test us further. I request the Women Front and all the people of the hills to remain strong. This is the ultimate struggle for Gorkhaland and we have made that clear to the West Bengal Government. I will show them what will happen if Gorkhaland is not given by 2010. I can do anything for the Gorkha people. If the West Bengal Government does not do what I told them to then West Bengal will be broken into pieces. The Secretaries of Government of Bhutan and Government of West Bengal have been meeting to discuss the status of Kalimpong and the Dooars. The lease amount that the Government of West Bengal has been paying to the Government of Bhutan annualy is now being negotiated to be raised to 1 Million Dollars from 15 Lakh Rupees that the Government was previously paying. Now the Government of West Bengal must think. It cannot hoodwink the people anymore.” [Inset: Bimal Gurung speaking to the people at Chowrasta, Darjeeling. Photo by Himalaya Darpan]

Speaking about the Tripartite Meeting to be held in November he said, “The failure of the Tripartite movement will be better for us. Things may not be that smooth from then onwards. There is a test match going on at New Delhi and Kolkata where I have engaged our intellectuals. However, when the knockout match starts I will personally go there. From today hence all the Government of West Bengal boards must be changed into Government of Gorkhaland. And similarly all boards where address as been mentioned as West Bengal should now have Gorkhaland. Even Banks must have Gorkhaland boards. Only Central Government Boards must not be touched. No laws of Government of West Bengal now prevails over Gorkhaland. We have been requesting the West Bengal Government by wearing Daura Suruwal and Choubandi Cholo. You have forcing us to take poison but you might be in trouble if we survive. There may be a multitude of people resigning from the Police and the Army. Darjeeling Hills and the Dooars is a ‘Chicken neck’ area and the Government must think carefully about it. Our boys are fighting at the borders laying their lives for the nation. We are devoted to the nation and are ready to shred every drop of our blood. But we want our right. Our struggle is with the Central and State Government. We have nothing to do with local organisations like Amra Bangali and Jana Chetna.”

Anti Bimal Gurung leaflet distributed in Kalimpong

“Does Bimal Gurung possess any quality of a leader? It is like chewing a stone accepting Bimal Gurung as a leader, who rules upon the people with the help of around 50 criminals.” This was according to an anti-Bimal Gurung leaflet distributed in Kalimpong yesterday. The leaflet has been signed in the name of the ‘Aware Citizens’ and addressed to the people in general requesting them to rise up against Bimal Gurung and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

According to people in Kalimpong, an unknown man was seen distributing leaflets to people and shops. The distributer is said to have dropped the leaflet at most of the places. People picked up the leaflets or accepted the leaflets from the man thinking that the leaflet was from a Governmental or a Religious organisation, informing them of some function.

The Leaflet suggests that Bimal Gurung President, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha was an uneducated man and that he was a criminal. The leaflet further alleges that people are not able to understand the true meaning of Gorkhaland and that Bimal Gurung was the only individual who was reaped the most benefits from Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. The leaflet goes on to allege that Bimal Gurung was the richest of the former GNLF Councillors. The leaflets also hits at the leaders of other political parties and questions Gorkha League, CPRM, Congress (Hills) among other parties’ acceptance of Bimal Gurung as Gorkha’s ultimate leader. Targetting the Journalists and intellectuals in the Hills as being mere ‘Paper Tigers’, the leaflet alleges that the Journalists and Intellectuals knowing fully well that Bimal Gurung an illiterate man with no knowledge of national and international politics can represent the Gorkhas. The leaflet alleges that the journalists and intellectuals knowing this fact fully well still supports him because everyone is out to make a quick buck. Why can’t these intellectuals offer written suggestions to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha? Will Gorkha Janmutki Morcha in turn accept these suggestions. Do the advisors of Bimal Gurung have the capacity to have pass a Gorkhaland Bill in the West Bengal State Legislature? Which, the leaflet suggests can be done by getting the support of anti-Communist legislators.

The discovery of the said leaflet created a great deal of speculation among the people. However, sources at Gorkha Janmutki Morcha said that the leaders have not yet reacted but they are investigating as to who might be behind the leaflet. (Himalayan beacon)

One to One with Bimal Gurung by www.darjeelingtimes.com

Bimal Gurung. Photo by Darjeelingtimes.com

Bimal Gurung. Photo by Darjeelingtimes.com

One to One with Bimal Gurung

An exclusive interview of Mr. Bimal Gurung, president of Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) for the 3rd time by DT Correspondent, Mr. Udhyan Rai, at his party office, Patlebash, on 23 August, here is the extract of Interviews; please find the detail in our forth coming Magazine Section (Seventh Issue) by end of August.

DT: How far have we reached in the process of Gorkhaland achievement after the formation of GJMM? What are your experiences and what did you learn during the period of 10 months of non violent Gorkhaland agitation?
BG:
Undoubtedly, we have learnt a lot through the ongoing Gorkhaland movement but at the same time there is a lot more to learn and experience. Indeed we have received enormous support but then at the same time we are under severe criticism as well. We still have to hold discussions and debates to elicit public opinion so that we will be able to take the movement in the right direction as far as possible.

DT: Are you confident about the present movement and can you repeat the same statement that you had made at the beginning of the agitation…. that Gorkhaland will be achieved by or before March 2010?

BG: Yes, definitely we are going in the right direction since 60% of the work has been completed while 40% of the work still needs to be worked upon. Well, regarding my stand on the date for the achievement of Gorkhaland by March 2010, I guess I am still extremely positive about it. This is mainly so because I believe that I have not taken into the movement for any ulterior motive. On the other hand there are people who simply join the movement because they aspire at some point to be an MP or an MLA or a councillor and so on. I simply take it as my moral responsibility to provide an identity for the one crore twenty lakh deprived Gorkhalis around this world. Moreover I have already made it clear to the public that I will ultimately bring the Bengal and Central Government to its knees until they themselves will finally offer us our demand for a separate homeland.

DT: Are you still taking advice from the intellectuals which you always profess are behind this movement?

BG: Yes, definitely. We never have and we never would do anything without first consulting our intellectuals. They have always been very supportive but till date they remain in the “underground”. However, in case of a crisis then they are ready to come to the fore as well in order to give the movement its necessary impetus.

DT: How is your relationship with Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh?

BG: We are not opposed to anyone since it is the time for everyone to stand united. However, personally I feel that the Bhartiya Gorkha Parisangh with its elite members and high political reach suffer naturally from pride which prevents them from trusting an amateur like me in the field of politics and at the same time they are so wrapped up in their elite world that they seem to have lost all connections at the grass root level which comprises the major portion of our community. It’s simply pride and nothing else but I still say that we all must take a stand together.

DT: Why is Sikkim not being as helpful as expected? Do you think that there is diplomatic problem between Darjeeling and Sikkim?

BG: I personally feel that there is no diplomatic problem between Darjeeling and Sikkim .It is simply a case of misunderstanding. In 2005 the Chief Minister himself had assured us of help in all forms for the attainment of a separate state. Falling back on this assurance after the formation of GJMM, we did send three delegations to Sikkim with regard to this ongoing movement. However the response was lukewarm. Yet we did not have any issues but the final blow came when legal action was taken against us with regard to the blockade of NH31.This was a matter which could have been solved diplomatically through dialogue considering the deep bond which we share with Sikkim. However we do not directly blame Dr.Pawan Chamling since we feel that he is being misled by a small lobby which is against Gorkhaland and who are simply interested in selfish gains.

DT: How is the GJMM handling the case of Chattrey Subba? What are the steps being taken in that respect?

BG: We simply cannot deal with this issue in a political manner, slogans and propaganda will simply not help. It is a legal problem and it needs to be solved legally. Therefore regarding this we have already engaged five lawyers who are being paid Rs.8000 each for the case. We definitely hope that there will be immediate results as we are very committed to this cause and I never go back on my words.

DT: What do you say with regard to the anarchic situation that followed after the murder of PRAMILA SHARMA?
BG: The situation was unprecedented no doubt. However since a lady was murdered in broad daylight for no obvious reason the general public definitely spiralled out of control due to the atrocity of the whole situation. It is the fault of the authorities concerned who never took the whole situation of the GNLF members earnestly. I had constantly warned them with regard to their illegal possession of arms and their usual conspiracies. However since they never paid heed to the graveness of the situation the anarchy was bound to follow sooner or later….only we never thought that the victim would be a harmless woman.

DT: Why did the GJMM not let the last rites of Mrs.Ghising from taking place in Darjeeling?
BG: I am thankful that you asked me this question because I wanted to clarify a few things regarding this issue.  Firstly, it was neither mine nor the party’s diktat to stop the last rites of Mrs.Ghising from taking place in Darjeeling. If I was taking a double stand then I would never have allowed a safe passage to Siliguri for Ghising on the 26thof July in the first place. Then again I even made a personal call to instruct the public as to let the bereaved come up to the hills. Unfortunately, by the time this message reached the angry mass, Mohan Ghising had already turned back. Moreover it must be taken into account that people never intend to forget Ghising’s betrayal which revealed itself in the almost empty funeral procession.
DT: Is it true that GJMM is making the properties of GNLF leaders public?
BG: Yes, but it is not as bad as it sounds. This is because we all know that the GNLF leaders during their reign of terror had amassed a huge amount of wealth from the public development funds. Therefore, it is only morally correct to take back to the public whatever is rightfully theirs.

सुभाष घीसिंग रॉ के एजेंट हैं- बिमल गुरुंग

बंगाल से अलग गोरखालैंड राज्य बनाए जाने का आंदोलन अपने चरम पर है. मार्च 2010 तक गोरखालैंड नहीं बनने पर खुद को गोली मार लेने का दावा करने वाले बिमल गुरुंग के नेतृत्व में जितनी आक्रमकता के साथ आंदोलन चल रहा है, उससे पहाड़ गरमाए हुए हैं. पहाड़ के देवता कहलाने वाले सुभाष घीसिंग को भी इन आंदोलनकारियों के कारण दार्जिलिंग छोड़ना पड़ा और अब उनके पैतृक घर पर बिमल गुरुंग की पार्टी का कब्जा है. हालांकि बिमल गुरुंग अपने आंदोलन को गांधीवादी आंदोलन कहते हैं.

यहां पेश है आलोक प्रकाश पुतुल के साथ की गई बातचीत के अंश

 

� नया गोरखालैंड राज्य बनाने का आपका आधार है, क्या-क्या मुद्दे हैं ?

गोरखालैंड अलग राज्य आज की मांग नहीं है. 101 साल पुरानी मांग है ये. भारत की आज़ादी की मांग से भी पुरानी. कुछ राजनीतिक दल इसे राजनीतिक औजार की तरह इस्तेमाल करते हैं. इसे वोट मांगने के लिए मुद्दा बनाते हैं. मेरे लिए गोरखालैंड की मांग राजनीतिक मांग नहीं है. हमारे लिए गोरखालैंड हमारी अस्मिता से जुड़ा हुआ मुद्दा है.

सुभाष घीसिंग ने गोरखालैंड आंदोलन के साथ धोखा किया है

 

हम भारत देश में रहते हैं, हमारे गोरखा सैनिक इस देश के लिए शहीद होते हैं लेकिन हम आज भी उपेक्षित हैं. आज तक हम लोगों को कुछ लोग विदेशी बोलते हैं. हमें हमारा हक नहीं दिया जा रहा है.

� आपसे पहले भी आपके जो पुराने साथी रहे हैं सुभाष घिसिंग, वो भी इसी तरह की बातें किया करते थे. वो भी कहते थे कि गोरखालैंड जरूरी है.

1986 में जब हम लोगों ने अलग गोरखालैंड का आंदोलन छेड़ा था, उस समय में मैं एक सिपाही था. लेकिन सुभाष घीसिंग ने आंदोलन को जब बेच दिया और गोरखालैंड काउंसिल की बात मान ली तो हमने उसका साथ छोड़ दिया, सुभाष घीसिंग को खारिज कर दिया. 2005 में जब छठवीं अनुसूची के मुद्दे पर कोलकाता में वार्ता शुरु हुई तो 17 प्रतिनिधि वहां थे लेकिन उनमें से 16 लोगों को कमरे के बाहर बैठा दिया गया और अकेले सुभाष घीसिंग वहां बात करते रहे. क्या बातें हुईं, क्या समझौता हुआ, ये केवल वही जानें.

� आपको ऐसा लगता है कि सुभाष घिसिंग ने केंद्र सरकार या पश्चिम बंगाल सरकार के साथ दबाव या प्रलोभन में कोई समझौता किया ?

समझौता तो किया ही. सुभाष घिसिंग तो रॉ का आदमी है. ये सरकार का आदमी है. वो दृश्य हमलोगों ने देखा है. हमने देखा कि पहाड़ के आदमी के साथ छल कपट हो गया. हमें लगा कि जनता को असली चेहरा बताना पड़ेगा. तो इसी हिसाब से हम लोगों ने जनता को बता दिया कि ये सुभाष घिसिंग ठीक काम नहीं कर रहा है. जनता ने वोट देकर उसको वहां पर चेयर में रखा लेकिन वो चेयर के अधिकारी के मुताबिक वहां पर काम नहीं कर रहा है. तो इसी हिसाब से हम लोगों ने वहां विरोध कर दिया कि हम लोगों को छठवीं अनुसूची नहीं चाहिए. हमें गोरखालैंड चाहिए.

� 1986 में सुभाष घिसिंग ने भी आंदोलन किया था तो उन्होंने भी कहा था कि हम गोरखालैंड ही चाहते हैं कुछ और नहीं चाहते हैं. बिमल गुरुंग ये कहते हैं कि दो साल में अगर गोरखालैंड नहीं बना तो मैं अपने को गोली मार दूंगा या इसी तरह की दूसरी बातें.

देखिए एक बात है कि हमने ये निर्णय लिया है और उस निर्णय के अनुसार हम काम कर रहे हैं. गोरखालैंड अलग राज्य के लिए ये एक अंतिम लड़ाई है और उस अंतिम लड़ाई को हम लोगों को जीतना पड़ेगा. जीतना पड़ेगा, इसी हिसाब से हम लोग एक रणनीति बना कर आगे आ रहे हैं. तो हम लोग जो कर सकते हैं, करेंगे ही. झारखंड बन गया, उत्तराखंड बन गया, इतना विभिन्न राज्य बन गया. तो हमारा गोरखालैंड क्यों नहीं बन रहा है ? हमारे 1200 लोग इस आंदोलन में शहीद हो गए. इन लोगों को बंगाल सरकार ने मारा, तो हमें न्याय चाहिए. इस शोषण का, अत्याचार का बदला हम जरुर लेंगे. हम अपने बच्चों को बोल कर आए हैं कि हम अलग गोरखालैंड ले कर रहेंगे. हम लोग राजनीति नहीं कर रहे हैं. हमें जेल की राजनीति, मंत्री की राजनीति नहीं करनी. हमें तो हमारा गोरखालैंड अलग राज्य चाहिए. अपने शरीर का एक-एक बूंद रक्त बहा कर भी हम लोगों को गोरखालैंड चाहिए.

� झारखंड का जो आंदोलन रहा उसमें लोगों ने हथियार उठा कर लड़ाईयां लड़ीं. इससे पहले गोरखालैंड का भी जो आंदोलन रहा है, 1986 का उसमें भी 1200 लोगों ने अपनी शहादत दी और एक हिंसा का रास्ता इख्तियार किया. आप कहते हैं कि आप गांधीवादी तरीके से लड़ेंगे ?

हां. हम गांधीवादी तरीके से ही लड़ेगे. कितने मारेगी सरकार हमें ? कितनी गोली चलाएगी ? आदमी लोगों को मारकर सरकार को इसका क्या लाभ मिलेगा ? हमारे देश में महात्मा गांधी जन्में, जिन्हें हम राष्ट्रपिता कहते हैं. तो मैं तो उनकी ही नीति जानता हूं. मैं उनकी कद्र करता हूं और उनके ही रास्ते पर चल कर हम अलग गोरखालैंड चाहते हैं.

जहां राष्ट्रपति, प्रधानमंत्री रहते हैं, वहां दिल्ली में जा कर तो मैं धरन-जुलूस निकाल सकता हूं लेकिन अपने घर में दार्जिलिंग में हमें बंगाल सरकार धरना नहीं देने देती, जुलूस नहीं निकालने देती. ये कौन सा गणतंत्र है ?


ये दंगा फसाद करके, टेरर करके, आदमी का सिर उड़ा के ये नहीं होगा. अभी देखिए इराक का क्या हालात हो गया, अमरीका ने वहां पर बम की बारिश किया. इराक ने भी वहां पर अमरीका के आदमी लोगों को कितना मारा. लेकिन बात क्या हुआ ? आखिर में वार्ता में आना ही पड़ता है.


हम लोग नंदीग्राम नहीं बनाना चाहते. हम लोग गणतांत्रिक हिसाब से आंदोलन करना चाहते हैं. अब ये देश गणतांत्रिक देश है. इस गणतांत्रिक देश में गणतंत्र का हनन हो रहा है. इसलिए हम लोग बोल रहे हैं- ये अन्याय हो रहा है. बंगाल सरकार अभी अन्याय कर रही है. हम लोगों को मीटिंग करने नहीं दे रही है. हम लोगों को नारा, जुलूस करने नहीं दे रही है. ये किस हिसाब की नीति है ?

जहां राष्ट्रपति, प्रधानमंत्री रहते हैं, वहां दिल्ली में जा कर तो मैं धरन-जुलूस निकाल सकता हूं लेकिन अपने घर में दार्जिलिंग में हमें बंगाल सरकार धरना नहीं देने देती, जुलूस नहीं निकालने देती. ये कौन सा गणतंत्र है ? मैं मार्क्सवाद, लेनिनवाद का विरोध नहीं कर रहा लेकिन उनके नाम पर जो लोग सरकार चला रहे हैं, अशोक भट्टाचार्य जैसा लोग, वे गलत नीति अख्तियार कर रहे हैं.

� आम जनता में जो एक धारणा फैल रही है, खासकर के जो हिंदी प्रदेश है उनके अंदर ये धारणा फैल रही है कि अगर गोरखालैंड बना तो इस इलाके में हिंदी भाषियों का रहना मुश्किल हो जाएगा.

हिंदुस्तान मेरी मां है और हमारा जो भी गोरखालैंड का मानचित्र है, उस मानचित्र के भीतर रहने वाले जितने भी आदिवासी, बंगाली, राजवंशी, बिहारी, मधेशिया और मुस्लिम जितने भी समुदाय हैं हम एकसूत्र होकर लड़ेंगे. एकसूत्र होकर हम लोग उसमें एक दायित्व निभाएंगे. हमारे लिए सभी हमारे हैं और हम एक भी आदमी को बाहर नहीं जाने देंगे.

� आपने जैसे कहा कि सिलिगुड़ी या दार्जिलिंग के जो माकपा लीडर हैं या अशोक भट्टाचार्जी का जैसे आपने नाम लिय़ा. तो जब सरकारें इस तरह से इतनी आक्रमक हों कि आपको सभा नहीं करने दे रही हों तो वो सरकारें आपको राज्य कैसे देंगी.

देना ही पड़ेगा. देना ही पड़ेगा. समय़ आ जाएगा. नजदीक है समय.

� दो साल में तो आपने …

हां. नजदीक है. नजदीक है… हम लोग बताएंगे बाद में. देना ही पड़ेगा. कैसे नहीं देंगे ?

�  आपने जो कहा कि मार्च 2010 जो है, हम लोगों को गोरखालैंड मिल जाएगा.

मार्च 2010 हम लोगों का लक्ष्य है गोरखालैंड लेने के लिए. उसके उधर नहीं, इधर. 2010 मार्च का आगे नहीं. ये हमारा लक्ष्य है. लक्ष्य बोलने का मतलब है हमारी इच्छा.

�  तो क्या योजना है आपकी ?

है योजना. वो आहिस्ते आहिस्ते हम लोग प्रोग्राम खोलेंगे.

� बिमल गुरुंग के बारे में कहा जाता हैं कि वो बहुत आक्रमक लीडर हैं. आक्रमक लीडर अब गांधी की तरह संघर्ष की मुद्रा में कैसे आ गए.

1986 के आंदोलन में बिमल गुरुंग एक आक्रमक लीडर था. एक सिपाही था…. कितना खून-खराबा हुआ. लेकिन हमने अब जब आंदोलन को अपने हाथ में लिया है तो हम चाहते हैं कि गांधी जी के रास्ते में चल कर हम अपनी लड़ाई लड़ें. अहिंसा की नीति को अपनाते हुए.

� आपके पास कोई दूरगामी योजना है गोरखालैंड की ? देश के हरेक हिस्से में इस इलाके के लोग काम की तलाश में भटकते रहते हैं तो गरीबी के खिलाफ, अशिक्षा के खिलाफ, बेरोजगारी के खिलाफ आपके पास किस तरह की योजना है ? आखिर गोरखालैंड अलग राज्य के तौर पर किस तरह सर्वाइव करेगा ?

इसी हिसाब से तो हम लोग अलग गोरखालैंड राज्य की बात कर रहे हैं. हमारे पहाड़ का आदमी, तराई का, ये डूअर्स का आदमी सब जगह बिखरे हुए हैं-रोजी रोजगार के लिए. तो हमें इनके लिए ही तो गोरखालैंड चाहिए. हम चाहते हैं कि हमारे लोगों को हमारे इलाके में ही रोजगार चाहिए. इसे हम अपने हिसाब से करेंगे ?

 


� आपका हिसाब क्या है. मतलब क्या करेंगे ?

वो तो करेंगे हम लोग

 रोज़गार के लिए क्या करेंगे ?

रोज़गार के लिए देखिए हमारे पास बहुत संसाधन हैं. पहाड़ का जो तराई क्षेत्र है, चाय बगान वाला हिस्सा, वहां चाय, फिर जंगल हैं, फिर खनिज हैं, पत्थर हैं…. हमारे पास इतना कुछ है कि घर-घर में रोजगार दिया जा सकता है. डुआर्स हो, दार्जिलिंग का पहाड़ हो, सिलिगुड़ी हो….इन सबका इतना विकास किया जा सकता है, जिनकी कल्पना नहीं की जी सकती है.

� झारखंड, छत्तीसगढ़ औऱ उत्तराखंड इन तीनों राज्यों का विकास उस तरह से नहीं हुआ जैसी उम्मीद थी. आपको कैसे लगता है कि आप अलग राज्य बन जाने के बाद ज्यादा विकास करेंगे ?

हमारे पास खनिज संसाधन बहुत है. इसी से बंगाल सरकार तो अपना काम चला रही है. केंद्रीय सरकार इसका टैक्स खा रही है. उस स्त्रोत हमारे पास है ना. हमें अपना विकास का तरीका देखना होगा.

 बिमल गुरुंग गांधीवादी है, लेनिनवादी हैं, मार्क्सवादी हैं ?

बिमल गुरुंग नहीं नहीं हम गांधीवादी हैं, मार्क्सवादी, लेनिनवादी नहीं हैं. मैं झूठ नहीं बोल रहा हूं. क्योंकि हम इस देश में पैदा हुए हैं. इस देश की कद्र करना चाहता हूं. हम गांधी के बच्चे हैं. लेनिनवादी यहां की नीति नहीं है. मार्क्सवाद यहां की नीति नहीं है. हम लोगों को गांधीवादी को अपनाना ही होगा. भारत में अगर आप हैं तो आपको गांधी की निति से ही चलना पड़ेगा.

� ये मार्क्सवादी आपके खिलाफ क्यों है. क्या कारण है ?

अब देखिए ये तो हम लोग को, मार्क्सवादी का अपना विरोध का तरीका है. अपना एक दायित्व है. हम लोग का अपना एक दायित्व है. हम लोग हिंदुस्तान में रहते हैं, हम लोग हिंदु है. हम लोग भगवान मानते हैं, वो लोग मानते नहीं है. ये ही है…

11.08.2008, 16.12 (GMT+05:30) पर प्रकाशित (http://www.raviwar.com/baatcheet/B8_VIMAL-GURUNG-ALOKPUTUL.shtml)