IS LIMBU A VANISHED TRIBE IN DARJEELING DISTRICT?
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.
Mr. Foning’s fear is just the process in which Lepchas are on the verge of extinction. But if we go by the list of candidates that GJM leadership has given tickets for election to the Gorkhaland Territorial Authority (GTA) to be held on 29th July 2012, Limbus appear to be already a vanished tribe. Because, not a single Limbu candidate has been given ticket by the GJM despite the fact that Limbus are important and integral part of so called Gorkha community. Limbus have sizable number in the so called GTA demarcated area. Limbus too have played important role and shed blood and martyred in the agitation for Gorkhaland be that of 1986-88 period or under the present dispensation. Yet Limbus have gone unrepresented in the present GTA set up whereas most of the major and minor tribes / castes / sub-castes of Gorkha-Tribal Community have been given representation through GJM tickets. It is the most cruel joke heaped on the Limbu community by the GJM leadership. Perhaps no Limbu had ever imagined or even dreamt of such an insult would beheaped on their community.
The failure to give even a single ticket to a Limbu candidate is more surprising given that the present agitation is led by much hyped intellectuals (Buddhijiwis) who are giving all the good advices to the GJM leadership so that he is guided by the best of the brains of the Gorkha community. Alas, here too they have failed miserably by not suggesting the GJM leadership that failing to give ticket to one of the important Gorkha community would amount to treachery on the people of that particular community who have given tan, man and dhan for achieving their cherished dream of Gorkhaland. GJM leadership, particularly the so called intellectuals must remember that Barrister Ari Bahadur Gurung, a member of a minority Gorkha community out of vast multitude of different caste and creeds and community of then Independent India, had been nominated as a member of the Constituent Assembly that wrote the Constitution of India. The mother India remembered a Gorkha to make an inclusive society.
Another alarming feature of this whole episode in the distribution of tickets is the stunned silence of the Limbu intellectuals and the Limbu cultural bodies of district of Darjeeling. Not a single voice has been heard in the local print and audio-visual media regarding non-representation of this community in the scheme of things that is coming up in the shape of GTA. Perhaps the leaders of Limbu community themselves might have made up their mind not to get represented.
So when the political party whose writ runs in the Darjeeling Hills is suffering from amnesia that one of the important and integral part of the Gorkha community for whom it is fighting political battles and the Limbu community itself who have been forgotten by their brethren / siblings and love to be forgotten and remain in abysmal bliss of non-existence, it will not be an over statement to say that ‘Limbus are a vanished tribe’.