Recently, there is a new wave of protests and agitations erupted in Darjeeling .The current wave of trouble started after 16 May when the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamta Banerjee, said that Bengali would be made compulsory for all students across the state.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which is popular among the Nepali-speaking Gorkhas in Darjeeling, objected to this proposal and called for a protest on June 8. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) perceived it as a unilateral imposition of Bengali culture, and an attempt to homogenize the demographic of the state.
At the same day, things took a violent turn for the worse when the GJM supporters clashed with the police. Gradually, the situation got out of control and the Army was called in to restore order in the area. The situation improved by evening.
On June 9, the GJM announced a 12-hour Bandh starting from 6 a.m to protest against the “indiscriminate police action on the peaceful demonstration”.
The Bengal CM called the Bandh “illegal” and warned of “strict legal action” against those taking pa Her announcement at a public meeting in Mirik on June 5, that a special audit of the GTA would be undertaken to uncover financial irregularities that the GJM had indulged in, served to harden the resolve of the GJM instead of making it cower into subservience.
What is GJM?
The GJM is a political party which was formed in 2007. It is led by the 52-year-old Bimal Gurung.
The GHM rose to prominence for leading the cause of Gorkha nationalism, and the creation of a separate state, Gorkhaland, out of the northern districts of West Bengal
Brief History Of Gorkhaland Movement
1907- In this year, The first demand for Gorkhaland was submitted to Morley-Minto Reforms panel. After that there were several demands were made on many occasions to the British government. After independence, same demands were made to the government of Independent India for separation from Bengal.
1952- The All India Gorkha League submitted a memorandum to then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru demanding separation from the state of Bengal.
1955- Daulat Das Bokhim, the President of District Shamik Sangh submits a memorandum to the chairman, State Reorganisation Committee demanding the creation of separate state consisting of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar district.
1977- 81: The West Bengal government passes a unanimous resolution supporting the creation of an autonomous district council consisting Darjeeling and related areas. The bill is forwarded to Central Government for consideration of this matter. In 1981, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi receives 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 supremo Subhas Ghising. The movement turns violent during the period of 1986-88, and around 1,200 people are killed. After a two-year long protest, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) is finally formed in 1988.
2007- At the last phase of left front’s regime, the mass movement for Gorkhaland takes place under the leadership of Gorkha Janmurti Morcha (GJM) supremo Bimal Gurung. The 2007 Gorkha uprising intensifies, following the 2005 Centre and state government initiative for a permanent solution of this region by bringing it to the sixth schedule of the constitution giving some degree of autonomy to a predominantly tribal area. But the Gorkhas opposed this sixth schedule and demand statehood gains pace. The four-year long movement comes to an end after new CM Mamata Banerjee’s declaration of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and Gurung is made its leader.
With the formation of Telangana on July 20, 2013, the movement for Gorkhaland state again intensifies. Gurung resigns from the head of GTA, says people have lost all faith. However, in a making her stand clear, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said: “Bengal cannot suffer the pain of yet another partition.
What is the impact of this bandh?
The summer season is a peak time for the tourists. The unrest in the hill station has affected thousands of tourists who are in the Darjeeling hills. Many tourists have been stranded at various points of northern West Bengal’s hills including Darjeeling.
Many tourists chose shorten their vacation and moved to Siliguri, which is better connected to other parts of the country.
Including day to day works and trade related works has been badly affected by the protests.
The perennial issue of the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland in the Darjeeling Hills of West Bengal cannot be resolved with a magic stick.
Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seems to think otherwise. It seems she is thinking as if charisma, tokenism and short-term political tactics are enough.
The Bengal government seems to be satisfied that it has solved the Gorkhaland issue after agreeing to the semi-autonomous Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) in 2011, which happened because of a series of agitations by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
In the years since its establishment, there has been little work done on the ground to transfer many of the subjects to the body as was promised.
On the other hand, The GJM, thinks that the GTA is just a stepping stone for the creation of a separate State.
Apart from, the GJM, which has ruled the Authority, too has been guilty of lukewarm administration.
So the feasible solution seems that the State government must reach out to the GJM and work out a way to transfer powers to the GTA as was promised in 2011.
A signal in this direction will go a long way in weed out the violent agitation. The wishful thinking like short cuts can solve the intractable Gorkhaland issue should be completely avoided.