Demand for Gorkhaland-A separate state for Gorkhas: Detailed Timeline

Gorkhas have been demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland since British-era. This articles gives you a detailed timeline of the events that have unfolded during the Gorkhaland movement.

Image: Supporters of GJM protesting
Image Source: Hindustan Times. GJM supporters protesting against Mamata govt’s decision to make Bengali language mandatory from Class 1 to10.

The demand for a separate state of Gorkhas – Gorkhaland – is a prolonged one whose origin dates back to pre-independence time period. Let’s dwell in brief on the events that unfolded during the British era followed by that in the independent India to get detailed insight of the topic.

Darjeeling and Gorkhaland demand during British-era:

Around 1780, the Gorkhas of Nepal invaded Sikkim and captured most part of it which included Darjeeling with Siliguri. They administered it for 35 years when finally after the British-Nepal war, Nepal had to, inter alia, cede a part of its territory to the British under the Treaty of Sugauli ratified in 1816. The ceded territory included: Darjeeling, Siliguri, Terai region, Shimla, Nainital, Garwhal Hills, Kumaon upto the Sutlej i.e. the entire region from Teesta to Sutlej.

However, though British handed over Darjeeling to Sikkim, it was taken back for political reasons in 1835. Darjeeling then remained a part of Rajshahi division, which now falls in Bangladesh, until when the then Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon directed the partition of Bengal in 1905. For a short period – 1905 to 1912 – it was even a part of Bhagalpur division.

The first demand for Gorkhaland was submitted, in 1907, to the Morley-Minto Reforms panel by the Hillmen’s Association of Darjeeling.

Post-this, several demands for the separate state of Gorkhaland out of Bengal were made both to the British India government as well Indian government after Independence.

Gorkhaland Demand in Independent India

Below is the timeline of post-independence events w.r.t. the demand of separate state of Gorkhaland:

1952:  The All India Gorkha League submitted a memorandum to the then PM Jawahar Lal Nehru demanding separation from the state of Bengal.

1955: Daulat Das Bokhim, the President of District Shamik Sangh submitted a memorandum to the chairman, States Reorganisation Committee demanding the creation of separate state consisting of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar district.

1977-81: The West Bengal government passed a unanimous resolution supporting the creation of an autonomous district council consisting Darjeeling and related areas. The bill was forwarded to the Central government for consideration on this matter. In 1981, the then PM Indira Gandhi received a memorandum from Pranta Parishad, demanding a separate state.

1980-90: The demand for Gorkhaland was intensified in the 1980s under the leadership of Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) supremo Subhash Ghising. The movement turned violent during the period of 1986-88, and around 1,200 people were killed. After a two-year long protest, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) – an autonomous body under the concept of state within a state – was finally formed in 1988.

Image: Subash Ghising giving a speech
Subash Ghising: He spearheaded the Gorkhaland movement in 1980s

2007: The mass movement for Gorkhaland once again took place under the leadership of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supremo Bimal Gurung in 2007. The movement came to a halt after four year when new CM Mamata Banerjee’s declared the setting up of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). Gurung was made its leader.

2013: With formation of Telangana on July 30, 2013, the movement for Gorkhaland state again intensified. Gurung resigned from the head of GTA saying people have lost all faith in the body.

Why Gorkhas want separate state for their community?

The aspiration for self-rule of the hill people in Darjeeling is more than a century old. It is due to several factors with linguistic and cultural factors being the foremost one.

The hill people of Darjeeling consider their culture and identity to be a distinct one and want to be recognised as Gorkhas belonging to ‘Gorkhaland’.

What is the current situation?

Currently the popular hill station of Darjeeling has been paralysed by a crisis that stemmed after May 16 announcement by Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee. It said that Bengali should be compulsory subject from Class 1 to 10 in the state.

Image: Bimal Gurung with Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee
Bimal Gurung: He is chief of the GJM

The announcement provoked Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which rules the semi-autonomous Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), who interpreted it as an imposition on them. Subsequently, GJM called for an indefinite strike from June 12, 2017 and since then five meetings of Gorkhaland Co-ordination Committee, consisting of representatives of all political parties, have taken place on the issue of creation of new state, viz. Gorkhaland.

 

 References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorkhaland

Tracing the history of Gorkhaland movement: Another crisis triggered by language

Demand for Gorkhaland: What Is It and Why?

 

WEAPONS NOT FOR SHOWING OFF, SAYS HIGH COURT

Object of the Arms Act was to ensure that weapons were available to citizens for self-defence . However, today it has become more of a way to show-off!!

Image: Delhi HC

The Delhi Court observed that one doesn’t have a fundamental right to keep a weapon and its possession nowadays is more for “showing off” as a “status symbol” than for self-defence.

The judgement came while rejecting a private company official’s plea for an arms licence. Earlier, his request for the same was denied by the licencing authority of the police as well as L-G Anil Baijal. The petitioner had sought an arms licence on the grounds that he deals with cash ranging b/w Rs. 2-3 lakh on a daily basis and needs a weapon for his safety and to secure the money.

The court while rejecting his plea said – “We do not live in a lawless society where individuals have to acquire or hold arms to protect themselves.” It went on to say – “Possession of arms has become a status symbol. Individual seeks to possess arms mostly for the purposes of showing of that they are influential people…..”

About Arms Act:

The Arms Act, 1959 is an Act of the Parliament to consolidate and amend the law relating to arms and ammunition in order to curb illegal weapons and violence stemming from them.

The Act has undergone many changes since 1959, the most recent being in 2016 when the Union Home Ministry brought into force Arms Rules 2016 through a gazette notification.

Through this notification, the government not only made it difficult to get a firearm licence under the existing Arms Act, 1959 but also brought air rifles, blank firing guns (which are mostly used by the film industry), certain types of battery powered batons that deliver electric shock and even paintball guns used in games under the ambit of licence.