Now this article may upset many of my Gorkha friends.
My mother’s maternal home is in Darjeeling & from my childhood a deep & a strong bond has been formed with the hills. The Gorkhland issue is not new. It is going on from decades. Faces of protests have changed from Subhas Ghising to Madan Tamang to Bimal Gurung & so do the circumstances.
The recent protests erupted when Mamata Banerjee tried to enforce Bengali language in the hills. Bimal Gurung & his men were up with arms strongly protesting the move & urging the use of local Nepali language. The tussle of language got converted to prestige issue & then into land issue & ‘Bangalis’ fav tourist spot was again burning.
Tourist stranded, vehicles torched, police injured, locals killed. The place was a mess so much so that HMO had to move in 3 columns of CRPF to control the situation. Now coming to the the point, why I have reservations against Gorkhaland. The reasons are cited below:
1. Bimal Gurung is a two faced snake. The Gorkhaland agitation in the recent history was started my Subhas Ghising. The moderate & soft spoken Ghising was loved by all even by Mamta who was in opposition then held talks with him. Ghising was upset with the way local hill leaders were functioning & blamed Gurung for that. What happened after that is history. Once friends & colleagues Ghising & Gurung were at war, so much so that Gurung was ready to compromise & shake hands with CPM. Ghising was latter forced to leave the Hills along with his men. He was humiliated & tormented by his own men.
2. Then came one of dark chapter of Gorkha Janamukti Morcha.
Madan Tamang head of Akhil Bharatiya Gorka league in late 2009 suggested until a separate Gorkhaland is formed democracy should be restored & a separate administrative council should be formed to look into the matters. He even met the then Governor of Bengal M. K. Narayan.
And that was it. Bimal Gurung couldn’t see the power slipping from his hand. He revolted against him & pitched for continuation of Darjeeling Gorkha hill council.
After a few days Madan Tamang was brutally murdered in broad day light with a Khurki by few armed men when he was preparing for a rally. FIR was launched against Gurung & his wife & the case is still going on. People in the hills knew who was behind it & who could have benefited from it.
3. The sporadic nature of protests: A huge protest again erupted in 2012 like it has today. Just after new TMC Govt was sworn in. With Mamata Banerjee in power her eyes were set on the hills. She started a dialogue with Gurung & ultimately Darjeeling Gorkha hill council was dismantled & GTA came into existence from 2012.
Condition: Gurung would be made the president. Mamata knew that new in power he needs to focus on other issues. GTA won the election in 2012 & Mamata decided to give financial support to hills via GTA. But she was shrewed. She was keeping a close eye on working of GTA. And with frequent visits to hills & his strong personal bond with hill people TMC had started to gain power.
In the recent municipal election TMC won Mirik, a GTA stronghold. The first non hill party to win this municipality. She suddenly changed & shifted gears & tried to enforce her position & stamp her authority in the hills. Gurung again didn’t like it.
GTA was given crores for development but hardly 10% of that was spent on ‘development’. In these years Gurung used it to his own benefit & hoodwinked the people. Now again when GTA election is due in late 2017 the protest has erupted.
WB govt has launched money laundering case & fraud case against GTA. The case may be soon be handed over to ED. GJM’s ally BJP is even in a dilemma. Kailash Vijayavargiya the state BJP observer has clearly said that they are against the formation of separate Gorkhaland. Can he have said this without permission from Amit Shah or Narendra Modi on such a sensitive issue?
The protests will again cool down after Next GTA election. Mamata will stop with police investigation on the financial frauds committed by GTA & Gurung will again go back to enjoy the beautiful Darjeeling from his warm luxurious home with a back-channel settlement.
If it is a protest for separate state why there was no protest & rallies for these 5 years?
4. Now comes the final & the most important as an Indian Nationalist.
If ‘Gorkhaland’ formation does take place, a chunk of north Bengal including Darjeeling Siliguri & Kalimpong will be gone. These are the places of highest Hindu population ratio in Bengal.
The official minority population is now at present is 30%. Unofficially it is more than 35%. Any one aware of the current Indo-Bangladesh border situation will tell how easy it is to crossover. With the Assam govt tightening the borders the immigrants are now focused on Bengal with their dear MPs & MLAs such as Idris Ali & Ahmed Hassan (both has links with SIMI & Bangladeshi Jaamat).
Oh they are safe here. More than the native Bengalis. My fear is if Gorkhaland is separated & with porous Indo-Bangladesh border the minority population may rise as high 40 -45%.
Is Modi govt willing to take that risk? I don’t think so. My haunch is Narendra Modi will play it with a straight bat. Finally my dear Gorkha brothers we need you more than you need us. You can have your separate language, separate culture, separate festivals & administrative body. But let’s stay together. Let’s stay united.