The Gorkhas residing in Delhi NCR carried out a peaceful Dharna pradarshan (demonstration) at Jantar Mantar on Thursday to highlight their demands.
Peaceful demonstration it was in one respect that there was no violence like stone pelting or burning of tires. But the anger was palpable, the speeches fiery, and the body language of fury and sadness.
Those who believe that old movements can become weak over a period of time would have to rethink after watching the solidarity among Gorkhas in Delhi who live 2500 KM away from their homeland.
Some of the Gorkhas present in the demonstration are new to Delhi, some have been living here for years but many who were present have been born and brought up in Delhi. But the wind in the air at Jantar Mantar suggests that the desire for Gorkhaland is 104 years young and not old. That is the mandate for those in establishment.
Following is the list of demands that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) is asking for:
1. Dooars located in Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal, wherein a sizable population of Gorkhas reside be included in the proposed “Gorkhaland ‘state. GJM has also demanded not to exclude the Tarai areas from being considered as a part of Gorkhaland.
Bimal Gurung, President, GJM, Central Committee, along with other team members are presently on a peaceful “Padyatra” to Jaigaon, Dooars, for a peaceful rally, to address the Gorkhas residing there but the padyatra has been restrained by the district administration and West Bengal Police from entering any further by invoking Sec 144, CrPC.
2. On 8th February 2011, supporters of GJM had assembled at Sibsu, and members of Naari Morcha were on a relay hunger strike demanding recall of the order to invoke Sec 144, CrPC and approval of the local administration to allow Bimal Gurung along with the rest of the GJM team to proceed further on a peaceful rally from Kumai More to Jaigaon. However West Bengal Police assaulted and killed innocent citizens by indiscriminate firing and brutally assaulting the peaceful protestors. The inhuman and shameful act of the West Bengal police was reflected when indiscriminate firing without prior warning was initiated and as a consequence two innocent youths namely Viki Lama (16) and Bimala Rai (24) were killed on the spot and several others were critically wounded.
3. The local administration including the West Bengal police are strictly against the demand of Gorkhaland killed and assaulted innocent citizens in a barbaric manner. Personal safety and security of our President, Bimal Gurung is also endangered in the present circumstances. It is apparent that West Bengal police have taken law into their hands to disturb public peace and tranquility. The West Bengal Police have made a mockery of the legal system, blatantly abused Human Rights law as well as the provisions of the Constitution including Article 21 and Article 14. The West Bengal Police along with district administration should be subjected to the penal provisions of Section 300, 302, r/w section 320, 120 A of the Indian Penal Code.
4. We hereby appeal to the Central Government that Central Bureau of Investigation initiate a fair and impartial inquiry into the firing. The authorities who gave the orders to shoot and kill innocent people should be punished.
Why no response?
But why the government has not responded positively to the demand of Gorkhaland despite the movement being more than hundred year old? The young GJM Delhi Media Secretary Ranjan Sharma who has himself participated in dozens of demonstration in Delhi and Darjeeling told isikkim.com, “To tell you honestly why the government has not responded is that the Gorkhas are small in population. And since it doesn’t mean much to them politically, the government has not responded positively.”
Vote bank might be an issue but the very fact that the movement has not only sustained but has become bigger and wider makes it necessary to be taken note of. Ranjan Sharma is a lawyer and has a very busy schedule but he is always available for what involves the cause of Gorkhaland. “What brings you back every time?” Ranjan says, “Most of all it’s a call for identity. People tell that we are from Nepal or China. Being Indians and despite the fact that there is a very famous separate regiment in the Indian Army in the name of Gorkhas, it hurts when we are not identified for what we are.”
Despite being widespread, mass based and at times violent, the struggle for Gorkhaland has been non-insurgent. Ranjan says, “We have always been non-violent. Even when West Bengal Police resorted to violence, we have remained non-violent. At times, when we are not heard, people get agitated but I am proud that it has remained mostly non-violent.”
In any case, the Gorkha sentiments are highly charged up to fight a united battle. Any failure on behalf of the Centre to address the crisis would lead to widespread consequences.