Hillman- The Analyst
Questions to be placed by the Public on the Panel discussion to be held in Kalimpong on 4 Dec 2008, on the topic titled ‘Constitutional Roadmap to Gorkhaland’
I.(a). What is the difference between Ethnic Identity and Regional Identity as applied to Darjeeling District provided by the terminology ‘Partially Excluded Area’ under the Govt. of India Act 1936, with affinity to erstwhile Assam, particularly to Meghlaya which originated out of the Province of Assam which contained ‘Partially Excluded Area’, districts. It is seen there were 8 ‘Excluded Areas’ and 28 ‘Partially Excluded Areas’ at the time of India’s independence in 1947. Since then, 8 ‘Excluded Areas’ automatically formed into Union states. The 28 ‘Partially Excluded Areas’ too, by various district and area wise combination, formed into states till very recently in 2000, namely Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Uttranchal.
(b). Why was Darjeeling District and Jalpaiguri District till the promulgation of the Govt. of India Act 1936 identified regionally to erstwhile Assam (presently the North East States) under the phraseology of ‘Backward Tracts’, which was rephrased to the terms ‘Excluded’ and ‘Partially Excluded Areas’, in which the latter content was applied to Darjeeling District but its application withdrawn in respect of Jalpaiguri District. In the said 1936 Act, Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri Districts is clearly seen to have formed part of erstwhile Assam (Northeast states) which was specifically designated, and mentioned in the said Act, as areas lying ‘east of Bengal’ and applied exclusively to areas belonging to erstwhile foreign countries which had been occupied by British rule. Considering the nature of such precedents, whether it is true the Districts formed out of these foreign countries were termed under the terminology of ‘Excluded’ and ‘Partially Excluded Areas’, and that, the so designated areas were deemed to be become new states in due time, and not allowed to be absorbed by any other state except qualified by the regional identity. The absorption of both Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri Districts in West Bengal is relevant to the context unqualified, unethical, discriminatory as well as Constitutionally infringing in that, the ethnic identity of the Darjeeling hill peoples identified with the Northeast is seen to have been overlooked in order to advantage West Bengal but in reverse to the disadvantage of Darjeeling District as well as the Duars. The question is whether this argument suffices to support the Constitutional provisions in demanding a separate state for Darjeeling District and the Duars?
(c). The supplement to (a ) and (b) is, whether Darjeeling District is the only and sole remaining designated ‘Partially Excluded Area’ which has been made an exception to the rule. Is this not a discriminatory act on part of West Bengal, flouting Constitutional provisions as provided since the promulgation of the Regulating Act 1773 and subsequent similar defining Govt. of India Acts till 1947 onwards in the process of state formation?
II.(a). Before the Independence of India not many of the present Union states exist but combined into whole in the Province Bengal and later into Assam, Presidencies of Bombay and Madras, kingdoms including princely states and principalities. The present 35 States including Union Territories were only formed at the time of independence 15 August 1947 and thereafter. All these states were formed on the prescription and precedental regional identities provided by the Constituent Assembly of India. It is given to understand, major states were formed on linguistic logistic basis of areas.
The question is, can a new state for Darjeeling District and Duars be formed under the linguistic basis as Nepali/Gorkhali is designated Schedule language in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution, or the application of ‘Partially Excluded Area’ is a more relevant criteria in defining a future state. There are over 350 languages in India- can every language speaking demand a state?
(b). What is the practical interpretation of the terminology ‘Excluded’ and ‘Partially Excluded Area’ under which criteria states were created out of Districts/ divisions/area territories out of the Provinces, Presidencies etc. throughout India, including the N.E. states? Is it true the specific transliteration of the term connotes the indigenous natives of the area specified, and that, these natives required protection from more advanced dominant and majority population of the country?
III (a). If ‘Excluded’ and ‘Partially Excluded Areas’ are the hallmarks of state formations in India, can West Bengal, legally and Constitutionally, justify ‘absorbing’ Darjeeling District under any Act issuing out of the State or the Centre. If so, would it not be considered a violation of the Constitutional provisions of the Schedules and discrimination of the right of self determination, applied to rest of India with the exception of Darjeeling District?
(b). Historically, Darjeeling District and Duars (Jalpaiguri Dist) were part of foreign countries when acceded to the East India Company (E.I.C.) under British administration. Now that the British have left India, can Sikkim and Bhutan, ask for the return of its lost territories under international law and jurisprudence? If so, then Darjeeling Dist as well as Jalpaiguri Dist can only be incorporated into the Indian Union and not directly to a Union state, which in this case is West Bengal, which too is only a division of erstwhile province of Bengal.
Collorary to the context is now that Bangladesh is a sovereign polity, can it not later claim Darjeeling Dist as part of erstwhile Bengal, as they had already done so before the Partition of Bengal 1947, and in fact had hoisted a East Pakistani flag in Darjeeling at the time. This question is of particular importance to the present reality, that the population of Siliguri subdivision has demographically changed to assert this proposition, thereby, marginalizing the Darjeeling Dist hill peoples population in the entire District.
As an comparative illustration, herewith the Census 2001 population of the Dist: 16,09,172 wherein, the hill peoples component is only 7,90,591 approximately only half the population. To stress the impact of the illustration further, herein the statement of the redoubtable Dr. Mahendra P.Lama, quote ‘the Darjeeling hill peoples must be prepared to the eventuality even to accept respected Asok Bhattacharjee, an ethnic Bengali as the future Chief Minister of Gorkhaland’. The content is, the dominant plains people form the majority population in the District, in comparison to the hill peoples, who formed the basis of the native population, extracted out of Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan before and since the Indo –Nepal Treaty of Segowlee 1816.
The question is, how much has the continuous inflow of foreign nationals into the District has affected the terminology ‘Partially Excluded Area’ in destabalising the process of state formation under the term as applied to Darjeeling Dist?
IV. Considering the terminology ‘Excluded’ and ‘Partially Excluded Area’ was the password for states formation and that, it is believed within its ambit only, that the 6th Schedule Constitutional Bill was formed and placed in Parliament. The provisions and contents effected the rejection of the Bill by the people enmasse, and which is presently lying redundant but alive in Parliament, having been amended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
The question is which of the following items were considered misleading in order to avert the passage of the Bill:
(a). the Bill was seen as a trade off for the permanent partition of Siliguri Subdivision, depriving Darjeeling Dist the most fertile plainsland in the Terai, as well as the great logistic vast economic resources of the township
(b). Non-inclusion of the Duars in the purported Gorkha Hill Council Darjeeling (GHCD)
(c). The GHCD was considered only as replacement of old wine in new bottle in context to the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC)
(d) Non-inclusion of new hill communities into the Scheduled Tribe list, and only the two new communities listed in 2003, the Tamangs and Limbus were seen to have been preemptively designed to divide the hill peoples
(e). The Bill was totally unlike the one applied to the North East regions, not even like the Bodoland Territorial Council which it resembled, and hence seen as a heavily diluted version as applied elsewhere, and not inconformity designed by its terminology ‘Partially Excluded Area’.
(f). The Bill opened the floodgate for abetted settlement of aliens and outsiders in the District from neighbouring countries and the plains.
(g). The 6th Schedule Bill diluted by amendments was seen as detrimental to the existing socio-economic environment which is seen to further affect the deteriorating geophysical environment to an irreversible ecological disaster, thereby giving more emphasis on the partial exclusion of the District from rest of Bengal under the regional identity qualified by the provisions of the ‘Partially Excluded Area’ term.
V.(a). It is believed the Inner Line demarcation of the NE states of India was mandated in 1873 with the specific purpose of disallowing entry of both Indian and foreigners into the specified areas, which also includes Darjeeling Dist along all the N.E.states which still retains the Inner Line Permit, obvious for the many reasons specified. Why only in Darjeeling Dist was the same lifted. Was it to provide foreign tourists (which was regulated but permitted for specific time), or was it for allowing massive dozes of foreign immigrants into the District from the bordering foreign countries of Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan refugees, besides taken over the restricted lands by the people from the plains.
(b). Did the state consult the Darjeeling Dist people while withdrawing the ‘Inner Line Permit’ besides the ‘Restricted Area Permit’ which was specifically applied to Kalimpong subdivision and commonly known as Kalimpong Stay Permit (KSP). Inner Line as well as Restricted Area Permits are considered components of ‘Excluded’ and ‘Partially Excluded Areas’ as applied to erstwhile Assam, and now the composition of 7 (seven) N.E. states, as well as Sikkim which still holds the Inner Line Permit. Will not the re-introduction of Inner Line Permit assure the marginalisation of Darjeeling Dist by immigrants from all over the neighbouring regions, which has contributed adversely in raising Darjeeling town to the un-covetous position of the most densely position hill town in the world. Kalimpong and Kurseong towns are not lagging behind considering the population growth rates for the past two decades.