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A People’s Movement: Global March for Gorkhaland

A People’s Movement: Global March for Gorkhaland

[Auckland, 24, July, 2017]: For 110 years of struggle, the Gorkhas of India, particularly those resident in the northern districts of West Bengal, have sought their own administrative set-up. This has, in contemporary times, led to the demand for the separate state of Gorkhaland in the Indian Union. The current stage of the movement for Gorkhaland has gained massive support not only across India, also the world. To endorse the right of the Gorkhas of India to a state under the Constitution of India, global non-partisan people will carry out a support march in over a hundred towns and cities across six continents on July 30 at approx. 10:00 am, local time.

Among the cities where the march will be held are San Francisco, New York, Munich, London, Hague, Paris, Munich, Copenhagen, Sydney, Melbourne, Vancouver, Toronto, Tel Aviv, Hongkong, Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

The Indian Gorkhas are from Darjeeling hills, a tiny region tucked away in the eastern Himalayas. It is a popular tourist destination and is home to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is known for the spectacular view of Mount Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. The tea produced in Darjeeling is one of the best in the world. It was once the summer capital of British India. The people of Darjeeling and New Zealand share a special bond as Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, who together with Sir Edmond Hillary were the first to conquer Mount Everest, lived in Darjeeling.

Geographically and politically, Darjeeling is a part of India within the federal state of West Bengal. However, the Indian Gorkhas are different from mainstream India - ethnically, culturally, even the topography is very different. Historically, much of area of the present day district of Darjeeling was a part of the kingdom of Sikkim. The rest belonged to the kingdom of Bhutan. When India was colonised by the British, the areas of Darjeeling was taken over
from the two kingdoms by the colonisers by means of diplomacy and war in the 1860s. In 1947, when India became independant, this region was handed over to independant India. The government of India has very little understanding of the people of Darjeeling and its region. After independence, since the region had no significant political representation in the India federation, policy and laws are made and implemented as a means of subjugating and controlling the indegenous population.

The Global March for Gorkhaland will be an occasion of solidarity from across the world against the brutalities the peaceful protestors of Darjeeling hills and adjoining areas are facing at the hand of the state. A coordinator of the march says, “We are not affiliated to any political party but feel the pains of our people back home. With this single world rally, we will all march together as one, united by the common cause of Gorkhaland. We will march to lend our voices to our brothers and sisters back home. We will march for the dreams and aspirations of our ancestors, our children and our identity.”

The Gorkhas have been in India for over a century and a half, since the British Raj era. But seventy years after Independence, their aspirations continue to be suppressed, the latest being the forceful imposition of Bangla (predominant language spoken across West Bengal) on the Nepali speaking community of the Darjeeling hills, Dooars and Terai, where ironically, Nepali is the official language. This is not the first time that such a hegemonic regime has sought to oppress the people of this region who fight for the democratic right to determine themselves.

The Gorkhas have lost over 1200 souls in the last mass movement in 1986 fighting against exploitation at the hands of a Government leagues away in Kolkata oblivious of ground realities. Following the latest protests against linguistic oppression, West Bengal Government deployed hordes of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to “control” this protest. In less than a month, these forces have killed seven unarmed civilians in cold blood and critically injured many more. The West Bengal State has openly violated basic human rights of the citizens of Darjeeling. To list a few, it has barred internet access across the Hills, shut down local news bodies operating in Darjeeling, blocked supplies and food entering the Hills. According to a human rights activist, “The condition of availability of food supplies is bad. The State Government cannot just sidestep their responsibilities with the pretext that public distribution supply shops have been forcibly closed by the agitators. The Government has to work out a substitute to ensure that people get food.” The police are harassing people. In case of the deaths, the relatives of the deceased are not given with copies of the post mortem reports (the equivalent of a coroner’s report) along with other details. In case of arrests, they are being shifted from one correctional home to the other with the authorities tight-lipped to queries of the family members of the detainees’ whereabouts. Amidst this humanitarian crisis, the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi and the Central Government have remained silent spectators. The Centre has yet to redress or even acknowledge the atrocities being committed by the West Bengal Government.

The forthcoming global rally, as a united gesture from all the Gorkha people around the world, aims to achieve 3 objectives:

1. Representation of all Gorkhas as a united community isolated from political endorsements.
2. Righteous examination of the situation of Darjeeling and transitional justice to the martyrs of the movement. . Read more on - http://www.gorkhalandunited.org/human-right-violations-in-the-region-an-analysis/
3. Initiation of a project to start fundrasing for the people of The Hills facing acute shortage of food and basic amenities.

The Global Gorkha Unity March will be a peaceful and an apolitical procession to condemn the atrocities the Gorkhas of Darjeeling are facing. To read more on the Global Gorkhaland Unity March and the Gorkhaland Movement, please log on to http://www.gorkhalandunited.org/ . The Indian Gorkhas in Auckland are a very small community and we are organising an event on 30th July, 2017 at Aotea Square at 2:00 p.m. as a part of the Global Unity March. We will have a street performance with songs and a speaker to share the stories that the Indian Gorkhas are facing today. We request you to join us for the event.

© Scoop Media

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