Ari Bahadur Gurung – Gorkha who signed the constitution of India

Late Ari Bahadur Gurung, a gorkha who signed the approved copy of the Indian Constitution when it was adopted, hailed from Kalimpong he was the first barrister of Darjeeling hills . Two members of Gorkha community were present in the Constituent Assembly namely Damber Singh Gurung (Bengal:General) and after his death Ari Bahadur Gurung (West Bengal: General) . Damber Singh Gurung and Ari Bahadur Gurung were among the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution. They were active participants in the debates of the Constituent Assembly of India. Ari Bahadur, Bar- at-Law from Darjeeling, was one of the signatories during the introduction of the Indian Constitution enumerated by Dr. Baba Sahib Bhim Rao Ambedkar. He was present to sign in the Book of Constitution when it was adopted on 26 November 1949.

Signature of Late Ari Bahadur Gurung - a gorkha who signed the constitution of India.
Signature of Late Ari Bahadur Gurung –
a Gorkha who signed the constitution of India.

On wednesday, the 23rd November 1949 when The Constituent Assembly of India met in the Constitution Hall, New Delhi at Ten of the Clock, Ari Bahadur Gurung said

With regard to article 3 and 4 read with article 391 of this Constitution, I have some observations to make on West Bengal. As you know, Sir, after the Radcliffe Award the two Districts of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri have been entirely cut off from West Bengal. In view of the defence of the northern frontier of India, this is a matter taht calls for immediate attention of the Government of India. With the imminent fall of the Kuomintang Government in China, Tibet, the next-door neighbour of India, is according to reports, becoming the scene of Communist intrigues. The State of Sikhism and the District of Darjeeling connect Tibet with the Indian Union, and Assam, the eastern-most frontier of the Indian Union, is linked with the rest of India by a narrow strip of land consisting of portions of Darjeeling district and Jalpaiguri. These areas as also the State of Cooch Bihar, in view of their strategic importance need to be strengthened and consolidated.

The Districts of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri which are the northern-most districts of West Bengal have no contiguity with the rest of West Bengal, East Pakistan having come in between. This circumstances gives rise to many administrative inconveniences in ordinary times and more so during a period of emergency. Being a Frontier region such inconveniences if allowed to continue longer are fraught with grave dangers. My object in making this observation with regard to these two districts of West Bengal is this that if we look at the map of India, we find that there is only a narrow strip of land, connecting Bihar with Assam, that is the districts of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri. Pakistan points like a sword towards the heart of India. If there is to be any trouble, unfortunately, God forbid, especially between Pakistan and India, Assam can be isolated within a very short period, the northern parts of Himalayas being inaccessible; and these are the territories that need the immediate attention of the Government.

Ari Bahadur Gurung with his twin daughters in kalimpong
Ari Bahadur Gurung with his twin daughters in kalimpong – Photo by Bhavna Gurung

When Clause three came up for the general discussion the use of the word “backward” led to controversary as the scope of the term had not been adequately defined.Thus, Ari Bahadur Gurung (West Bengal: General) raised the question as to whether the term backward classes” included the three categories of people, namely ST Scheduled Castes and Tribes and one particular class which is not included so far, under the term “backward”.

In his opinion it was not desirable that any special provisions granting protection to communities should operate indefinitely and the term backward in the constitution should be defined by the house to avoid future disputes.

Recently “BJP government will set up Ari Bahadur Gurung’s statue in Delhi and Darjeeling” said BJP candidate SS SS Ahluwalia while campaigning for 16th Lok Sabha election in Darjeeling.

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