As Gorkhaland stir continues, anger grows in the plains

Meanwhile, reports are coming in of harassment of people from the hills and Sikkim in towns such as Siliguri, which has an overwhelming population of Bengali-speaking people, and of people even leaving.

Written by Ravik Bhattacharya | Kolkata | Published:July 3, 2017 6:12 am
gorkhaland, darjeeling protests, gorkha protest, west bengal protest, gorkha, india news An anti-Gorkhaland rally at Sivmandir near Siliguri. (Source: PTI Photo)

WITH the strike seeking a separate Gorkhaland entering the 18th day, tensions between the Bengali and Nepali communities of the region are coming to the fore. While a state minister has issued a statement promising safety of people from the hills in the plains, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha that is spearheading the demand for Gorkhaland has accused the government of inciting “communal hatred” and “division” between the two regions.

Meanwhile, reports are coming in of harassment of people from the hills and Sikkim in towns such as Siliguri, which has an overwhelming population of Bengali-speaking people, and of people even leaving.

On Saturday evening, GJM supporters tried to set afire three finders in Kurseong, in the first such attack on emergency services. This followed repeated attacks in the plains on vehicles travelling to the hills. Vehicles crossing Siliguri on their way to Sikkim with essential items and food via NH10 continue to be vandalised.

Recently, West Bengal Tourism Minister Gautam Deb said the government will ensure that people from the hills are safe in the plains. “We are identifying the miscreants. Steps are being taken to ensure people of the hills who are in Siliguri and others parts in the plains for work or education do not feel threatened.”

In a statement on Sunday, the GJM said, “Anti-Gorkhaland forces and TMC government-sponsored elements have been actively inciting the people of Siliguri, Odlabari, Malbazar, Meteli and parts of Dooars in communal hatred and division between hills and the plains.”

A number of apolitical rallies have been taken out in Siliguri against the demand for a separate Gorkhaland. Apart from pro-Bengali groups and organisations, which have again become active, ruling Trinamool Congress workers are a prominent presence at such rallies.

The latest agitation for Gorkhaland was sparked by an order from the government making Bengali language mandatory from Class 1 in all schools across the state. Khushiranjan Mondol of ‘Amra Bangali’, a pro-Bengali organisation which was active during the 2010 Gorkhaland protests, says, “Bimal Gurung should be immediately arrested. We will not let Bengal get divided. The bandh in the hills should be immediately called off. One must remember they are dependent on the plains for food stocks.”

Mukunda Majumder, the president of the ‘Bangla of Bangla Bhasha Banchaon Committee’, justifies the anger in Siliguri. “While vehicles from Bengal are being ransacked on their way to Sikkim, Sikkim vehicles are collecting stocks from here. How can this be?” Condemning the attacks on Sikkim vehicles in Siliguri, the GJM has said it would write to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. “We would request the government of India to take steps to ensure the safety and security of Sikkimese and Gorkhali people in Siliguri. The state police are acting as bystanders when incidents of violence take place,” it said.

In its statement on Sunday, the Morcha said, “The GJM on behalf of all the Gorkhas worldwide condemns the harassment being meted out to the people of Sikkim in Siliguri. Sikkim and Darjeeling have always shared a cordial and warm relationship. Sikkim coming forward in support of Gorkhaland is an example of it. India being a democracy, everyone has the right to voice their opinion, that does not mean that Sikkimese vehicles should be vandalised and Sikkimese people harassed in broad daylight in Siliguri.”

The GJM also accused “anti-Gorkhaland forces” and the TMC government-backed elements of instigating violence to defame its agitation. “The GJM finds it intriguing as to how these arsons and attacks on government offices and properties are taking place in the presence of a large number of West Bengal Police and CRPF personnel,” it said.

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  1. S
    Sid Debgupta
    Jul 19, 2017 at 3:47 pm
    You cannot have it both ways, establish a total Nepali state in the hills and other areas where you are a majority, and then cry when you are similarly treated ( which actually they are not - these instances of harassment of Nepalis in Siliguri are very isolated and nowhere near the large scale cution of non-Nepalis in the hills ).
    Reply
    1. S
      Sid Debgupta
      Jul 19, 2017 at 3:44 pm
      Gor nd is a artificial construct. Majority of so-called Gorkhas today living in North Bengal are illegal immigrants from Nepal. After attaining total dominance in the hills, they have been infiltrating the plains for many years now, with the aim to drive the plains people, mostly Bengalis and tribals, out and establish Gor nd over a large portion of North Bengal. Of course, if they are allowed to get away with this, in another 10 years they will continue their demographic assault, since Nepal is a basket case of a country with no prospects for its citizens who will keep flooding into the new "Gor nd" and live off the Indian government dole.
      Reply
      1. U
        Udipan
        Jul 4, 2017 at 1:41 pm
        I stay and work in Sikkim for the last 15 years. I was traveling from Sikkim to Siliguri two days back by my car, which has WB registration number. My car was stopped by Gor nd supporters about 20 KM from Rangpo gate, entry to Sikkim. The picktiers stopped my car and threatened me and my family. They tried to destroy my car. We begged for our life and informed that we are coming from Sikkim. After lot of abusing and pleading by us we were allowed to go. The road to Sikkim is completely unsafe for all cars except Sikkim registration. I will request all involved in the strike to be peaceful and non violent.
        Reply
        1. N
          Nyakir
          Jul 4, 2017 at 12:04 am
          Long live gor nd.
          Reply
          1. S
            Samir Thapa
            Jul 3, 2017 at 9:00 pm
            Very sad that The Indian Express is filtering word Gorkha.land, very sad indeed. So much for your freedom of expression. Long Live Gorkha.land!!!
            Reply
            1. S
              Samir Thapa
              Jul 3, 2017 at 8:55 pm
              Long Live Gorkha.land!!
              Reply
              1. A
                Atis Mitra
                Jul 3, 2017 at 5:41 pm
                This is planned by our ex-serviceman gettingOROP and planning anti-national activities
                Reply
                1. S
                  Sid Debgupta
                  Jul 19, 2017 at 3:48 pm
                  Gorkhas were always loyal to their British masters. Todays Gorkhas are mostly Nepali immigrants who have no loyalty to India.
                  Reply
                2. K
                  Kamal Pasha
                  Jul 3, 2017 at 3:54 pm
                  Jai Gorkhland. Long live Khalistan. Kashmir BANEGA Pakistan.
                  Reply
                  1. S
                    Samir Thapa
                    Jul 3, 2017 at 8:58 pm
                    Bengal will be part of Bangladesh given the illegal migrants from Bangladesh. And do remember that these Bengali are Muslims who have sympathy for Pakistan!!! Gorkhas will always protect India while Bengali, especially Muslims will divide India. Think about India before anything else.
                    Reply
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