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Why this Article?
Now when I say Darjeeling, Its not just the hill station, It constitutes the Doars, Terrai, Siliguri too. If we check the following image. Darjeeling shares almost a 100 kms borders with Nepal, 19 Kms with Bangladesh and some 30 kms with Bhutan. We are gateway not only to strategic state of Sikkim (Doklam Yaad aya), but also to 7 sisters of North East. We are gateway to 3 Countries, two of which are completely landlocked.
We are such a strategic area for our country for a fact that few months ago, one over jealous, tax money pampered Jihadi+Commie called Sharjeel Imam, mentioned this land mass of Siliguri Corridor as ‘chicken neck’. Now will you leave this Area which is so important to the country in the hands of the administration of Bengal, which is already in a dire state of disarray? PM Modi and his advisors should seriously take a note on this.
For the Uninitiated…
Darjeeling District, A quaint little area on the foot hills of Himalayas is very-very dear to its 18 lacs odd people who resides there or few young ones who are now expats like ‘yours truly’. With demographics comprising 90% Nepali with different ethnicity one wonders how this beautiful district fell under West Bengal in the first place.
North Eastern India has always been neglected by the rest of country. Until few years ago, people still could not locate towns from NE on the map of INDIA, Darjeeling is no exception. Being an expat living elsewhere I know the issues hands on. When asked we proudly replied, ‘ I am from Darjeeling’, the queen of the hills’. Pat came the counter, is it in Nepal?
Surprising considering the fact, Darjeeling was the go-to, location of many Bollywood movies since the late 40s. And we grow the best Chai in the planet, majority of the varieties are exported and don’t even see local market in India.
Talking of Chai! Chaiwala PM! I thank him from the bottom of my heart. Nobody- I mean no Prime Minister in the history has opened up North East to the rest of India like this PM. PM Modi is the reason that rest of the population knew there are places called Tawang or Ziro or Mirik in India too. He literally brought North East to the main stream. In return people of North East also paid back handsomely, by giving him the fastest ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’ to India. His prominent election quote before the historic 2014 election.
Eminent Patrakar has in the past labelled North East as ‘Tyranny of distance’ when he was asked why news flow from NE was not consistent in National Main Stream Media. I don’t blame them, it’s a fact, NE had been ignored for centuries.
Reign of 6 Century long mighty Ahom dynasty is given very little or no importance in our school books, instead a 200 year old of plundering, tyranny and forced conversion of Mughals is the de-facto history, out of our 5000 years old civilization.
And this ignorance of rest of India towards North East is evident in each of its small place of interest. Darjeeling is no exceptions. Very few know that Darjeeling and its people’s demand for a separate state or administrative division is more than 100 years old.
Darjeeling, unfortunately for us locals, currently is part of West Bengal, We don’t have anything common with Bengal. Darjeeling Doars region which constitutes majority of the North Bengal has no shared history with Bengal. The culture, language, customs nothing!!! This had been there for the centuries. Only common thing that we Darjeeling people shared with Bengal during the British Raj was a common Governor that too prior to 1935. Many doesn’t know that after the partition of Bengal in 1905, administration of Darjeeling-Doars was transferred to Bhagalpur division of Bihar Presidency, which remained with it for next two years till 1907. Following which there was a demand for a separate administrative division (akin to today’s State) for Darjeeling –Doars by a group named Hillmens Associations sometime in 1907. Which makes this demand of a separate Statehood the oldest in India than any other State. Please understand the emphasis on the word ‘State’ and not another separate ‘Republic’ out of the dominion of India, before calling us Gorkhas separatists.
Let’s delve in a bit of history in detail! Dorje-Ling literally ‘Place of Thunder’, and its nearby area have existed since centuries, Kirateshwar Mahadev Temple located along the banks of River Rangeet, has many mythological episodes of the Mahabharata attached to it.
But to prove the point, we just need to go back in time after the 17th century when European colonial powers were getting their grip on Indian sub-continent and South East Asia.
Darjeeling was part of Kingdom of Sikkim under Chogyal Dynasty. Late 18th century ambitious Gorkha King of Nepal were on a 25 years campaign of conquest and expansion. By early 19th century the Gorkha Kingdom reached its height extending from Kumaon and Garhwal in the west to Sikkim in the east to border town of Kyirong and Kuti of southern Tibet. They ruled over this area for over 40 years right from 1775 to 1815.
During the colonisation of India, Kingdom of Sikkim had sided with the British East India Company, which angered the Nepalese Gorkha King. The Gorkha army invaded Darjeeling in the 1790s and captured the then Sikkimese Kindom capital of Rabdentse, and annexed territory right till the banks of Teesta River. In 1814 when the Anglo Gorkha war broke out. Fight between the Gorkha Kingdom of Nepal and British East India Company resulted in victory for British. After two years of skirmishes signing of Treaty of Sugauli took place in the winter of 1815, which was later ratified and finalized in March 1816. Under the treaty, about one-third of Nepalese controlled territory was lost including Sikkim, Kumaon and Garhwal Kingdom to the British.
On 10 February 1817, the British returned the land area between the Mechi and Teesta to the Sikkimese Chogyal under the Treaty of Titalia, a place in present day Bangladesh, in return British were given trading rights up to the border towards the Tibet.
In early 1829 border dispute between Nepal and Sikkim arose again. Then British Governor-General, William Bentinck, sent two officers, Captain George Lloyd and J. W. Grant, to mediate the dispute. On the journey two officers stayed at Darjeeling for six days. Capt Lloyd was mesmerized by the place. On 18 June 1829, Lloyd communicated to the Governor General for possibility of using Darjeeling as a military outpost and trading hub due to its strategic location. It didn’t took time to convince William Bentinck and in return he sent Captain Herbert, then Deputy Surveyor General to Darjeeling to examine the area. After the survey the Directors of the British East India Company approved the project and General Lloyd was given the responsibility to negotiate a lease of the area from the Kingdom of Sikkim.
The lease deed was granted on 1 February 1835 after a survey which mentioned Darjeeling as a worthless uninhabited mountain. Lease was granted for free until 1841, later the British government granted the Chogyal of Sikkim an allowance of Rs. 100,000 per annum as compensation, and raised the grant by Rs. 6,000 per annum in 1846.
Darjeeling was part of Sikkim Kingdom leased to British East India Company and never part of Bengal Presidency. Point to be noted that Sikkim Kingdom joined Indian dominion only on 16 May 1975 way past the date of Independence in 1947.
Come 2021, after a dud year of 2020 pandemic of Corona Virus, we have election in Bengal. PM Modi led BJP along with his trusted lieutenant Amit Shah, which had no real presence in Bengal, is making a positive in roads. Lets hope he wins despite the current dispensation of Darjeeling which is riddled with factions of many kind. Sad that all the past leaders of the hills had no real directions (warrants another article on this) whatsoever regarding the home-land for the Gorkhas.
Leaving this piece of strategic land mass of Siliguri Corridor so called ‘Chicken Neck’ in the hands of Commie and TMC gang would be a very dangerous for sovereignty of this Great Country.
Jai Hind! Jai Gorkhaland!
Special Thanks to :
Sailen Debnath-The Dooars in Historical Transition
Atis Das Gupta-Ethnic Problems and Movements for Autonomy in Darjeeling Frommers India (2008)
Alistair Lamb – British India and Tibet, 1766-1910