Discrimination even in Death: The Dooars Study Forum includes here the final story of two Gorkha martyrs, one from Darjeeling district and another from the Dooars, whose gallantry and sacrifice were subjected to the worst treatment possible by the West Bengal Government.
Santosh Thapa of Lebong (in Darjeeling and therefore in the present state of West Bengal) was a sepoy in the 5/1 Gorkha Rifles. He saw action in ‘Operation Orchid’, ‘HAUCA’ (Jammu & Kashmir), and ‘Operation Pawan’ and was decorated with Samanya Seva Medal with Clasp ‘Nagaland’. He was felled by enemy bullets in the line of duty on 8 December 1987. The West Bengal government in a bizarre sense of gratitude awarded the grieving widow an Ex-Gratia grant of Rs. 2,000/- (Rupees two thousand). The sum was so paltry that it would not even cover the cost of the funeral rites. When it is common knowledge that victims of railway accidents, mining disasters etc. are given from Rs. 50,000/- to lakhs of rupees the West Bengal government thought it fit to dole out just two thousand rupees for a man who had defended his country in the harshest of conditions and eventually paid the final price. This is nothing short of belittling the contribution of a hero and a martyr and the government would have been better off by not giving anything at all.
Yes, it’s never too late to write an old story that has hardly been told. Like all hill stations in India Darjeeling is also renowned for excellent schooling facilities. The elegant ‘English medium schools’ with their rich future-secured children have their own niche in the long story of Darjeeling but so do also the less affluent schools catering to the less privileged native students. Schools like SUMI (Kalimpong), St. Alphonsus’ (Kurseong), St. Robert’s (Darjeeling), Nepali Girls’ High School (Darjeeling and Kalimpong) and numerous similar schools have produced alumni that many of the financially better endowed institutes would envy.