The basic point about Gorkhaland is IDENTITY and NOT DEVELOPMENT.
You should be very clear at the outset, that bringing in the talk of DEVELOPMENT in the way of IDENTITY is to DEVIATE from the core issue and to OVERSIMPLIFY and GENERALIZE the issues that the Gorkhas are trying to place before the nation.
Mixing up development and Identity is a conspiracy of the Ruling class to fool the people, resulting in more intensification of existing crisis.We rationalists should not take the faulty logic of the ruling clique and get trapped in rigmaroles.
Nevertheless, development or the lack of it is one reason for people’s rebellion.And most people who do not support the cause of Gorkhaland are now talking about non development in Darjeeling. Is it that all other places are highly developed except for Darjeeling?
But I wonder what development has there been in Kolkata except for adding the lesser used Vidhyasagar Setu to the colonial legacy. What development has there been to other parts of Bengal after the British left?And why is it that there is no demand for a separate state in Birbhum, Purulia, Bakura and Salboni etc., if it was just due to non development?
And that development is not the panacea for identity movements has been proved beyond doubt in Tibet where large scale development by the Chinese could not undermine the peoples’ aspiration for self respect and self esteem.
And the Indian Independence movement was, at least, not due to the lack of development.
Thus it is futile to prove that lack of development in the Gorkhaland area, is the cause of this movement. Proving it is the work of the conventional intellectuals and the cunning politicians.
Therefore, my request to you is that please do not bring in the issue of non development to the cause of identity and unknowingly confuse the whole movement for the emancipation of the Gorkhas.
Let me give you some core issues that the movement has put forward:
1)      Around 1780, the Gorkhas invade Sikkim and capture most part of it which includes Darjeeling with Siliguri. They administer it for 35 years when finally after the British-Nepal war,  Nepal cecedes its territory to the British in the treaty of Segoulee in 1816.
The ceded territory includes Darjeeling, Siliguri, the entire terai, Simla, Nainital, Garwhal hills, Kumaon upto the Sutlej., i.e., the entire region from Teesta to Sutlej.
Again, Darjeeling was handed over by the British to Sikkim but was later taken  back by the former for political reasons in 1835.The CPIM intellectuals and anti Gorkhaland intelligentsia talk only about 1835 but not 1780. I am sure that history does not begin only from 1835. What was prior to that??
2)      Lepchas were nomadic tribes and were engaged in zoom (shifting ) cultivation. They used to hang around the hills from one region to another. Sometimes they were in Nepal and sometimes in Sikkim.
That the Lepchas are the original inhabitants (they of course are, along with other tribes of this region) of this place is based on the account of one Capt. Lloyd, who wrote in his account that there were some 100 Lepcha huts in Darjeeling at the time. It is only that when he visited Darjeeling, those Lepchas just happened to be there. Had he ventured around, he would have surely met some other tribes of the region. It could have been any other tribe; Limbus, Magars, Rais etc who ran around these regions as it was their land. All these tribes belong to the Gorkha community. One thing should be kept in mind that Lloyd was not a trained historian but only a traveler.
These 100 Lepcha huts have now become a buzz word of the CPIM intellectuals to prove that the Gorkhas are foreigners here. They do not want to discuss other historical and anthropological contentions, which go in favor of the Gorkhas.
3)      When the British started tea cultivation in 1865 and the narrow gauge railway line in Darjeeling, a lot of people came here and started residing permanently. One should keep in mind that –
a)  these people did not have the modern concept of international borders,
b) they understood that the land was under the possession of their king and  when they came to work under  British enterprise as laborers ,they thought they were actually following  the orders of the Gorkha King and,
c)  they always understood that they were in their own land.
4)      When these events were happening, India, as we know today, was still not formed and all these people were British subjects, be it a Gorkha or a Bengali.
5)      But after 1947, India entered into an infamous treaty with Nepal in 1950- The Treaty of Peace and Friendship. The Article 7 of this Treaty reads: “The Government of India and Nepal agree to grant on a reciprocal basis to the national of one country in the territory of another the same privileges in the matter of residence, ownership of properties, participation in trade and commerce, movement and other privileges of similar nature”.
This treaty ambiguates the citizenship of the Indian Gorkhas, and it led to the loss of their Indian Identity.  It makes a Gorkha’s Indian citizenship a reciprocal one.

The present Gorkhaland movement is a search and a fight for this lost IDENTITY.
Only a separate STATE can give them this IDENTITY and nothing less.
(You can imagine what will happen to the citizenship of millions of Indian Bengalese if the Govt. of India and the Govt. of Bangladesh enters into such kind of a treaty with Art 7 intact). Rulers do not ask their subjects when they enter into treaties.  
So now it must be very clear that The Gorkhaland Movement is neither a fight against Bengal nor is it hatred against Bengalese. Once the STATE OF GORKHALAND is formed, no other INDIAN can call the GORKHA a FOREIGNER. The IDENTITY of the Gorkhas as Indians will become secured.
Therefore the Agenda of the Gorkhaland movement is only IDENTITY and not DEVELOPMENT.
 In that sense this movement is different from other movements for separate states. Telengana, Vidharb, Bundelkhand etc are a case for DEVELOPMENT, but Gorkhaland is a case for IDENTITY.
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 However I give you some cases of non development:
#     When the British left there were 180 tea estates in Darjeeling, now only 82 are left including some which are closed.
#      In North Bengal there is presently 18 tea gardens locked -out and in these some 30 thousand workers are jobless.
#      The wage of a labour in Darjeeling Dooars is the lowest in the country.

Tamilnadu                         Rs.101/-,
Kerala                                Rs. 92/-,
Karnataka                          Rs. 92.85/-
Darjeeling- Dooars            Rs.68.70/-
(These are inclusive of fuel and rations of poorest standards).
It is below the minimum wage of Rs.100/- .

#        The Government run Cinchona Plantations which employs thousands of people is on the verge of extinction, there is heavy corruption, and the authorities are conspiring to sell it to Hindustan Lever Group.
#       During the British Rule five to six mail and passengers trains used to go up and down Darjeeling – New Jalpaiguri, and the whole night goods trains used to run in the narrow gauge line. But now there is only one train with 3 compartments that runs between the two stations. 
#       Almost all the ropeways constructed by the British, an easy way of transport and employment, which carried goods to far flung areas are now defunct.
#       Malbazar- Mateley- Dooars was part of Darjeeling Parliamentary constituency, it was cut away and Islampur Chopra with no Gorkha population was attached to this constituency. This was done by B C Roy. His intention was criminal as the Gorkhas could not send an MP on their own, they had to depend on the Bengalese Ruling class’s whims and politics which always was detrimental to the interests of the Gorkhas.
#        Drinking water problem is world famous.
#          Although many departments were given to DGHC, it had no recruitment powers, which led to the unemployment of the educated individuals.  These are now the die-hard participants of the movement.  There was not even a single appointment in the hills in the last 20 years.      
#          Roads are always horrible.
These are some of the things which, I as a rationalist have been able to make some sensible people understand.

By Manoj Giri
[The author, a teacher in Kurseong, is Vice President of Humanists’ Association]

#darjeeling #gorkhaland #gjmm #gorkhas

Source:  Srai