The Politics of the Hills

Darjeeling, a beautiful place which lies along the foothills of the Himalayas, is today in the midst of turmoil and tension grips the region. In the wake of prolonged violence, the peace of the region has come to a standstill. The newspapers are kind enough to provide a tiny space somewhere in the right hand side or in between the so-called major issues of the present condition of the place. Therefore, a lot of people are unaware of the tension that grips the area today.

The movement for a separate state, Gorkhaland had been put forward in the 1980s .The movement, which saw the death of numerous lives without any concrete end result, remains engraved in the heart of every Gorkhali. However, the clan has survived all through these years without any identity. Darjeeling, for many, is just another hill station with its scenic beauty and picturesque locales. However for the locals, there is much more than just this landscape beauty.

Every winter, the area is thronged by tourists from all over the world. Many grumble about the place becoming extremely overcrowded and the region worsening day by day. Yet, very few would know that the region gets no development fund so that the place can be made more heavenly. The people who earlier demanded for a separate state today survive without any dreams, any hopes for the betterment of their condition.

The widely dispersed group came together with a force to be united and to prove the might of their unity in the form of mass support for the son of their soil, Prashant Tamang. The viewers of the popular program “Indian Idol” grimaced and criticised the victory of Prashant over the more deserving Amit Paul. It was not as if the people of the hills were unaware of this fact. But, the need to be accepted and recognised was more stronger than any rationalistic acceptance.

The only way one recognises a Gorkha is in the form of “bahadurs “as shown on many Bollywood flicks. The only place one can think of, when speaking of a Gorkha, is that of Nepal. Many get confused trying to figure out the difference between the people of Nepal and that of Darjeeling hill council. Gorkhalis as a clan exists in both the countries and those in the Darjeeling district are here because of the mutual treaty signed between India and Nepal.

It is this very identity crisis which has led the people to demand for a separate state. The demand, however, was crushed down ruthlessly by the Indian army leaving wounded sores in the heart of the Gorkha community. Today, once again the demand for a separate state has been revived. The local people had given up on all dreams and silently accepted their conditions, but the victory of Prashant Tamang has given them new hopes and new dreams.

The Prashant fan clubs have merged to become a new party “Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha” with the demand for a separate state and no other alternatives. Subhash Ghising, the chairman of the caretaker government has been forced to resign and has been prevented from coming back home. He was the one who initiated the demand way back in the ‘80s but his later submission for the Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling stands condemned by many in Darjeeling.

Post numerous strikes and cases of violence, there has come about some kind of a standstill with the resignation of Mr. Ghising. Yet, the heat still remains with the new party constantly pushing for their demands. The locals are actively awaiting the end with positive approach. They have a fire to sacrifice everything they own to carve out the separate state Gorkhaland and to bring into existence the long lost dream of every Gorkhali.

Dipti Tamang

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