POLITICS

A Demand for separate statehood: Gorkhaland

Gorkhaland

Gorkhaland, a decades old demand which started in 1907 for a separate state in the hills of West Bengal have now taken a whole new turn.

It all started with the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee introducing the study of Bengali as a secondary subject in all the regions of West Bengal including the hills of Darjeeling for schools from classes 1 to 10.

West Bengal consists of two majority people, Bengali speaking and Nepali speaking. The Chief Minister failed to recognize the differences in the culture, identity, ethnicity, and language of the two communities.

The imposition of Bengali culture even in the form of language is unacceptable to the people of Darjeeling. This move on the Chief Minister’s part only confirmed the validity of the decade old demand for a separate state.

However, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has refused the proposal and has taken harsh measures against this demand by imposing measures to stop the protest, for instance, there were 9 unarmed casualties till date.

Other methods like cutting off internet supply and rations like rice, dal vegetables (as the region is cut off from rest of India by a chicken neck boarder, Siliguri there is no other way to commute) are being used to counter the protest.

This has only lead to discontentment and sour feelings against the West Bengal government. As a sign of protest, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had declared an indefinite strike, this has proved to have affected the state rather harshly resulting in a loss of more than 500 Thousand Crores. GJM has been in power since 2011 when it rose to power in similar circumstances under the leadership of Bimal Gurung. The leader swore not to withdraw the strike till the demand is met. GJM has been organizing peaceful protest, for instance, there was a human chain protest against atrocities of police in the hills and carrying of black flags.

The current stalemate between the people and the government has not only led to political instability but also virtual blockade has resulted in food shortage in many regions of the hills.

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