Darjeeling Bengalis, Biharis, and others all want Gorkhaland

DARJEELING: Mamta Bannerjee, wake up, it’s not just the Gorkhas, but most of the long-time  residents of these hills that are rooting for Gorkhaland.

Subhamoy Chatterjee the vice-president of the Darjeeling town committee of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, is an ardent advocate of Gorkhaland. So his relatives in Siliguri and Calcutta have shut their doors on him and his family.

Chatterjee, elected to Darjeeling municipality on a Morcha ticket, has become the face and voice of the Hills party in Bengali news channels, angering his relatives even more. “My relatives in Calcutta   no longer talk to me and I am no longer welcome to visit them. But that’s a price I am happy to pay for my political views,” he says.

Saibal Chakraborty, secretary of the 123-year-old Nriperndra Narayan Bengali Hindu Hall, says that every time he visits his relatives in Jalpaiguri and Calcutta , the discussions veer towards Gorkhaland and heated debates follow. “Since I support Gorkhaland, my relatives feel I am a traitor. So I avoid visiting them nowadays,” he said.

For about 150 Bengalis living in Darjeeling, the Hindu Hall is the cultural hub. Homeopathy practitioner Pratapaditya Guha, whose grandfather Atul Chandra Guha was the civil surgeon at Victoria Hospital here during the British rule, feels that his advocacy of Gorkhaland has earned him the wrath of many relatives in Siliguri and other parts of Bengal. “Relations between us are no longer as warm as they used to be,” he says. Government stationery supplier Raju Biswas, assistant secretary of the Hall, takes part in all processions and rallies for Gorkhaland. “I am a fourth-generation resident here and  I too support Gorkhaland,” he says.

The Bengalis of Darjeeling are not the only ethnic group to openly support Gorkhaland.

In the daily rallies,the participation of all ethnic groups is evident. In Darjeeling, the associations of all communities – Lepchas, Bhutias, Marwaris, Bhojpuris, Sindhis, Dukpas, Roman Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and the Harijan Samaj, Mochi Samaj, Rajak Samaj, to name a few – have pledged their support of Gorkhaland in writing  .

Himanshu Garg, president of the Marwari Samaj here and acting president of the GJM Minority Front,  says that local Marwaris support Gorkhaland. “We responded to the GJM’s call and kept our business establishments closed voluntarily for the greater cause of Gorkhaland.” J P Gupta, an insurance employee and president of Bhojpuri Samaj, says that Bhojpuris, too, want Gorkhaland. “There’ll be development in the Hills, more business and employment opportunities. There will be greater education opportunities for our children and we will benefit from a new state,” he explained.

A large number of Lepchas  support the ongoing movement. “Gorkhaland is a common demand for all communities, including the Lepchas. The Bengal government wanted to create a divide between Lepchas and Gorkhas, but the participation of thousands from our community in the rallies proves that the sinister ‘divide and rule’ policy of Mamata Banerjee will not succeed,” said Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) Sabha member Dawa Lepcha.

Former chairman of Kalimpong Municipality Norden Lama claims that the Darjeeling Hills Scheduled Castes & Tribes Association is firmly behind the GJM in its struggle for statehood.

“The impression that only Gorkhas want a separate state is totally wrong. The current statehood stir has seen voluntary and enthusiastic participation of all communities without any exception,” said Mahendra P Lama, pro-vice-chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University.

– based on a TOI report from Darjeeling

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Posted by on August 11, 2013. Filed under Bengal,Breaking News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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