Gorkhas So far…: No Land’s Wo/men in India (Part-III)

Writes Tikendra Kumar Chhetry
Department of Peace and Conflict Studies
Sikkim University

“I believe slogans like Bharat ki barbaadi or Gorkhaland should be treated as an attack on the integrity of India. I can’t say whether its sedition or not but its definitely an attack on India and steps should be taken to curb it.”
-Chandra Kumar Bose, A Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) leader

“My blood and sweat smell the soil of this land. My body is painted of the soil of this land. I am born and shall die in this country. Assam is my motherland. I cannot leave this struggle which is for the freedom for crores of people like me in this country”.
-Chhabilal Upadhyaya,The First President of Indian National Congress Assam Provincial Committee

“Though I am overjoyed on the occasion of my country’s long awaited Independence, at the same time thinking about the future of the thirty lakh Gorkhas spread all over India makes me deeply concerned and worried”.
-Damber Singh Gurung, Leader of All India Gorkha League, 15th August, 1947

Second and third of the above placed statements were made by two ardent Gorkha freedom fighters of Indian freedom struggle in two different situations.  The second one was by Chhabilal Upadhyaya as mentioned above, the valorous freedom fighter from Assam and, one who is claimed to be the first president of Assam provincial congress committee. He was found making this statement while he was interrogated by colonial Police superintendent in relation to his (Chhabilal’s) efforts to organise a meeting to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s first ever Assam visit. Chabilal Upadhyaya had attended the meeting at Tezpur polo ground, Assam organized on occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s visit in August 1921 as a part of Non-Co-operation Movement. After the adjournment meeting, the district Police Superintendent (SP) of colonial administration took Upadhyaya to Hazarpar Park in his own (SP’s) car and made lucrative offers to him. Police officer said, “Do not oppose the Government. I will pay you Rs. 500/- per month, I will return your seized gun.” Upadhyaya boldly replied: “I am born in Assam and shall die in Assam, Assam is my motherland. I cannot leave the Congress”. At that juncture, Gandhi was resting in Parmananda Agrawalla’s house. When these words reached to Gandhi, he appreciated Upadhyaya in two valuable words- “Achchha Kiya”.

Chandra Kumar Bose - Gorkhaland an attack on the integrity of India
Chandra Kumar Bose – Gorkhaland an attack on the integrity of India

The third one, as mentioned, was by Damber Singh Gurung, the then leader of All India Gorkha League (AIGL). Gurung had made this statement while he was addressing the triumphant crowed on occasion of freedom of India on 15th August 1947.

Apart from above mentioned two different moments, Damber Singh Gurung and Chhabilal Upadhyaya led Gorkha community had a great contribution in keeping the then Assam which comprises considerably a large part of present northeast intact within present boundary of India. In the year of 1946, when at the threshold of moment of free sky, India was encountering oversized problem created by proposal of Cabinet Mission. On proposal of Cabinet Mission subscribing Jinnah’s ‘two nation theory’, the colonial government wanted to club up the then Assam with East Bengal (the then proposed east Pakistan and presently Bangladesh). To counter the proposal, some local congress leaders attempted to convince national leaders as well as tried to mobilize all sections of people in region against the move. Gorkhas stood by the side of whole community with all lovely attachment to region. The Assam Provincial committee of All India Gorkha League (AIGL) opposed the colonial plan. Damber Singh Gurung the central president of AIGL gave a written assurance in support of Congress. Gopinath Borodoloi sent two Congressmen, Vijoy Chandra Bhagawati and Mahendra Mohan Choudhury to meet Mahatma Gandhi to avoid Assam’s inclusion into East Pakistan. Gandhi replied, “Assam’s quietness would finish it. Only Assam can do what it wants”. Assam stood at a critical juncture. By the time, Chhabilal Upadhyaya, a Gorkha of the affected region was selected as the president of central body of the AIGL in its 4th central conference held at Tezpur of Assam in April, 1947. Under his leadership, the Gorkha League strictly denounced the inclusion of Assam into the Eastern part of proposed Pakistan that was being designed under Jinnah’s ‘two nation theory’. Chhabilal declared “Jinnah would not be allowed to decide the future of Assam. The AIGL opposes Jinnah’s plan of Pakistan and inclusion of Assam. And to avoid it, if necessary, thirty lakh Gorkha wrists with khukuris would be used to save our motherland India”.

The first one of above statements is by Chandra Kumar Bose, known to be the grand Nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, a Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) candidate who is probably contesting against present West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Benerjee during the upcoming Assembly election that is going to be held in five states in India including West Bengal.

The second statement portrays that how Gorkhas were committed for the freedom of the land being visionary for self and community while country of love was in the jog of freedom struggle. The third statement reveals that how a Gorkha leader, an ardent freedom fighter of country foresaw the possible status of the community that he belonged, on the very first day of the Independence of country. It is difficult to grasp that what were the circumstances those compelled Damber Singh Gurung to depict his frustration about future of a community that he belonged. Whatever might be the situation, Gurung’s forecast about the future of Gorkhas that he made at the first day of exultant free India slowly started to be proved. The first of the statements above ( which is very recent one) is one of the evidences that how contribution of Gorkhas in architecting India has been disregarded time and again causing misery, adversaries and on the top, no land’s people in own country.

Aggravating situations against Gorkhas in free India started to undervalue the vision and sacrifice of leader like Chhabilal Upadhyaya. The members of community that freedom fighters like Chhabilal Upadhyaya and Damber Singh Gurung belonged gradually started to face the rejection and reduction in own country where lakhs of their ancestors sacrificed pouring sweat and blood to paint the colour of freedom. In this regards, so-called leaders like Chandra Kumar Bose, times and again, are deliberately creating situation for let Gorkhas’ be excluded and attacked in every sphere of state’s every day practices.

However, in a long list of the messiahs of divisive politics in India, Chandra Kumar Bose is not the only face but just a new face to provoke the some ill-minded citizenry to attack Gorkha community in India.

The initial defamation that came to Gorkhas was from none other than the first Deputy prime minister of country, Sardar Ballavbhai Patel on 14th December 1949. On question of Pandit Thakurdas regarding the creation of a province with Gorkha populace Darjeeling, Patel had made a very numb and insensible reply. Patel’s argument deemed his derogatory and suspicious perception on Gorkhas when he said that proposal to create Darjeeling as a province was harmful for the welfare and integrity of country but, he failed to explicate his argument in parliament and baselessly crushed the proposal.

The misdemeanor that Sardar Ballavbhai Patel made against Gorkhas was followed by the office of National language commission. Anand Singh Thapa, the chief editor of Jagrat Nepali, a magazine, and his two associates Bir Singh Bhandari and Narendrasingh Thapa had submitted a memorandum to Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first president of Indian republic demanding the constitutional recognition of Nepali language under Eight Schedule of the constitution in January 18, 1956. But, B. G. Kher, the then chief of National Language Commission of India had made a controversial remark against Nepali speakers.  B.G. Kher in his reply to memorandum of Anand Singh Thapa, Bir Singh Bhandari and Narendrashingh Thapa remarks that Nepali is a foreign language; hence it cannot be recognized as a language under the eight schedule of the constitution of country.

Even the some prime ministers of country had very discriminatory and indifferent attitude towards the bona-fide Gorkhas, the Nepali speaking citizens. In 1979, Morarji Desai, the then Prime Minister of India had placed ridiculous and irresponsible commentary backlashing Nepali as foreign language when a delegation of Akhil Bharatiya Nepali Bhasa Samiti was tabling a demand to include Nepali language under eighth schedule of Indian constitution. Morarji Desai responded discourteously stating that the Gorkhas can be thrown into the Indian Ocean when the said delegation was trying to draw his attention to the contribution of Gorkhas, the Nepali speakers in country, particularly in protecting country as crucial custodian of defense sector of country. Also Indira Gandhi had very vague and insensitive outlook over Gorkhas in country. Ms. Gandhi tried to ignore the issue that pertained to demand for inclusion of Nepali language in eighth schedule of constitution and she rhetorically stated “vehicle is moving forward’. It is difficult to decode the rhetoric phrase she used as reaction over the demand of Akhil Bharatiya Nepali Bhasa Samiti but, a common and laymen understanding can interpret it as reduction of the value of Gorkhas’ contribution in building this nation. During 80s of last century when the Gorkhaland Movement was on its peak the then ruling left front in West Bengal, using all tools, tried to brand the Gorkhaland movement an anti-national upsurge. Attempts were seen to provoke non-Gorkha people against Gorkhas in West Bengal labeling a constitutional demand of Gorkhaland as an anti-national insurgency or foreigners’ shakeup. With the motive to brutally crush a popular movement for a constitutional demand, the Left Front West Bengal government put pressure on Rajib Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India to consider the movement a threat to India. He did not give any heed to the staging of West Bengal government. However, the Prime Minister gutted his sympathy, while he also fall in Gorkha (Nepali speakers) slurring convoy while he lost the balance of his tongue and lips and made the ‘Nepalese of Darjeeling are foreigners, thus some political arrangement to be made’. Undeniably, despite the fact that his initial response towards Gorkhas was not concrete but it was somehow compassionate latter. Though he did not sort out any plan over the demand of Gorkhaland (the aspiration of all Gorkhas living across the country for the identity of their inclusiveness in India) yet his moral commiseration towards the issue of Gorkha community was someway reflective.

Sardar Ballavbhai Patel, B.G. Kher, Morarji Desai, Indira Gandhi and Jyoti Basu led Left Front West Bengal Government are only a few examples in a long cue who enjoyed and roasted their political bread glooming the glorious history of Indian freedom struggle while they excluded, demeaned and rejected derecognizing Gorkhas’ nationality in their own land. In the pace of time in Indian politics, leaders with insufficient knowledge of Indian history appeared and left in pages of past and, avatar of similar leaders in face like Chandra Kumar Bose is still occurrence to disregard the Indian history worsening the nationality status of Gorkhas. In relation to Chandra Kumar Bose, it may observably be added that in BJP too he is a next name after standing PM Narendra Modi and Rahul Sinha who are playing with the innocence of Gorkhas. In a mass gathering at Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency during Lok Sabha election 2014, PM Narendra Modi had assured that the issue of Gorkhas would be taken into consideration after BJP acquires parliamentary power. Gorkhas trusted him/his party throughout the country rightly starting from Darjeeling constituency. It is now two years of BJP’s power in parliament. Modi is not seen flipping back the page of his assurance to Gorkha. After few days of his assurance, the then president of West Bengal unit of BJP openly declared BJP’s disagreeable position on Gorkhaland. Rahul Sinha is beating the same anti-Gorkha aspiration drum still, and now, Chandra Kumar Bose projects constitutional demand of Gorkhas as threat to the country.

As mentioned here, these are only few names from a large cue of national leaders in India who disgustingly design/designed the tickets for minority Gorkha community in national political circle to roast their political breads defaming national history of India. Apart these mentioned figures, there is another large cue of journalists, film stars, columnists, civil servants, social workers local political leaders in various parts of country and so on, who glue/glued stickers of foreign nationality on the forehead of Gorkhas in India. These maturely immature bunches of people hoodwinking the rest mass of citizens in India while they talk/write/work in the fields academics on nationalism/constitutionalism, politics, journalism, film, performing arts, civil services, social services, games and sports and so on, in one hand and, glued/glue stickers of foreign nationality on the forehead of Gorkhas in India in other. For every conscious/concerned citizen of India these bunches of citizens are maturely immature because, talking/writing/working on these fields cannot be completed without placing the names of Gorkha ancestors like Durga Malla, Khadga Bahadur Bista, Dal Bahadur Giri, Indreni Thapa, Sabitri Thapa, Damber Singh Gurung, Ari Bahadur Gurung, Sitara Devi, Laxman Shrestha, Shasi Shekhar Jung Bahadur Rana, Chandra Singh Rawat, Bir Bahadur Gurung, Amar Bahadur Gurung, Upendra Singh Rawat, U B Thapa Shyam Thapa and so ahead… Some of readers might be curious to know these people are about. Definitely, contribution of these historical figures will be discussed in next number of this series.

There is a large list of Gorkha names pending in the history of India who had contributed firmly to prepare India to the present stand. Right now, before quieting the key board and cursor here, it is to add, some so-called Indian citizens like Chandra Kumar Bose, time and again make/made mockery of Indian history gluing stickers of foreign nationality on the forehead of Gorkhas in India. The glory of India is severely incomplete until Gorkhas contributions are mentioned.

Also Read
Gorkhas So far…: The No Land’s Wo/men in India (Part-I)

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