In the essays on his travels to Darjeeling, Upendrakishore describes the exotic in terms of the familiar
Once upon a time, there was a magic country, which lay nestled in the clouds. The snows lived there, along with people who had sunshine smiles. When the people from the ugly plains below — who had never seen before madcap waterfalls, whirling roads, rivers crossing paths, trees draped in moss curtains, and that fantastic object hitherto found only in picture books, snow —reached the place, they were dumbfounded. They had to pinch themselves to be reminded that they were not dreaming. Those who were not fortunate enough to go to the home of the snows had to content themselves by reading about it in books, written by those who had been there and experienced it all. The traveller-writers had a challenging task — like medieval explorers, they had to describe an unfamiliar world by speaking about it in recognizable terms. They had to make the readers feel the magic as well as the pinch of reality.
There are lots of ambiguities in the question on the need and substance of the Gorkhaland movement. If we carefully empathize and categorize what different sections of people in our community, not only living in Darjeeling but also in all other parts of India, expects from Gorkhaland, almost all fits into two distinct categories; identity vis-à-vis development. Here in this piece, I will focus on the identity aspects of the movement. I am not taking developmental facet into consideration because the term ‘development’ itself is multi-faceted and has lots of connotations and repercussions. And also I don’t buy the assumption that achievement of Statehood is the only means to develop.
Lack of unity and one-up-man ship have not allowed the group to get political identity
As Telangana issue heats up, the demand for Gorkhaland too is again being highlighted, resulting in the knives being out between the state government of Bengal and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). The twelve-hour bandh announced by GJM crippled Darjeeling, but are demands for Telangana and Gorkhaland on the same plane?
Drill at girls’ camp in Jamuni; rest at boys’ in Roy Villa. Subham Dutta
Madhuparna Das : Jamuni, Roy Villa, Darjeeling, Thu Aug 23 2012: In 1987, when she was eight, Anuja Tamang saw a severed head hanging from a post near her house in Monsong village of Kalimpong. The murdered man was a neighbour who had refused to join Subhas Ghisingh’s GNLF. For many years more, she would see much violence in her village amid the movement for Gorkhaland. When the Ghisingh era ended in 2007 and Bimal Gurung took over the movement, his approach captured Anuja’s imagination.
The Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA), installed this week to administer the affairs of the Darjeeling hills, is an important milestone as it brings, even if temporarily, a respite from the fierce statehood movement that often culminated in bloodshed and strife for a large number of Gorkhas as well as people from the plains. No matter how the GTA fares, the restoration of a democratically elected body to run the hills, after nearly 20 years, is a singular event in Darjeeling’s history.
A few decades back Mr A.R.Foning had stirred the imagination of the people of Darjeeling and Sikkim in general and Lepchas in particular by pondering whether Lepchas are a vanishing tribe in his book ‘Lepchas My Vanishing Tribe’ published by Sterling Publisher 1987. According to him Lepchas, a peace loving, traditional tribe living simple life close to nature in the sub-Himalayan region comprising of the present state of Sikkim and Darjeeling District of West Bengal have been subsumed in the vortex of modernity and cultural synthesis of different communities living in their ancient land. Lepchas have not only been outnumbered physically but they have very little in them what they were before influx of waves of people from outside which slowly but certainly obliterated their culture and tradition which otherwise could have distinguished them as a distinct tribe.