On Martyrs’ Day, Darjeeling leaders talk Gorkhaland sans violence

‘Union territory acceptable’
Report by: 
27 Jul 2018

With the political scenario in the hills of Darjeeling still in a state of flux after the 104-day long statehood agitation lauched by Bimal Gurung last year, on Friday the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and its rival Gorkha National Liberation Front used the occasion of Sahid Diwas to bolster their respective positions.
The GJM organized their programme in the premises of Gorkha Ranga Manch Bhawan, in the upper reaches of the town. The GNLF initially wanted to holdtheir programme in Sonada but were denied permission by the district administration, compelling them to organize it in front of their party president Mann Ghisingh’s house in Dr, Zakir Hussain Road in Darjeeling.
Addressing, family members of the people who died in different agitations for a separate state over the years, GJM president Binoy Tamang said he had requested the state government to provide jobs to at least one next of kin. “We give gifts and felicitate family members of the martyrs every year on this day. This and monetary help are not enough to evaluate the sacrifice of the people who died in the statehood struggle. However, as the president of a party, I haveplaced a proposal to the state government to provide job to one family member of the martyr,” he said.
GNLF under Subash Ghisingh had started observing July 27 as Sahid Diwas after formation of the Darejeeling Gorkha Hill Council in 1988. GJM too has followed suit and has been observing Sahid Diwas on the same day, each year.
The GNLF president paying tribute to the martyrs said it was important to understand the sentiments of family members and extend support to them to get over their loss. “The sahids are being politically used. Only one day each year, the sahids are remembered but what happens to their family, this no one takes notice about. The family of the martyrs must not go to any leader but let them come to you. Leaders who want to take political advantage must know your condition,” Ghisingh said, addressing his party supporters.
Interestingly, speeches of the GJM and the GNLF president echoed similar notes; training their remarks against the BJP government, advising political parties to refrain from indulging in political publicity and the need to take the statehood demand forward non-violently.
“The Gorkha community is considered second class citizens in the country, in-spite of their sacrifices. The North and South blocks in Delhi run the country but till now the Gorkhas have not been shown any sympathy. We want to tell the Narendra Modi government to evaluate our sacrifices correctly and give us justice,” Tamang said.
On the other hand, Ghisingh asked the Centre to make their stand clear on the statehood demand. “We have already told what we want. Now the Central governmentto say what they have to give. It may be the sixth schedule, Union territory or even a separate state. We
will welcome it, but it must be cleared by the Government,” the GNLF said.
Ghisingh also alleged that a conspiracy was being hatched to sideline the GNLF party politically in the hills. “Today, we were not allowed by the district administration to hold our programme in Sonada. We think there was a direct order from the higher authorities. The district administration says peace has been restored but asked us to organize our programme next year. This we cannot digest,” he said.
The GNLF has decided to organize on Sunday a programme in the area having the martyr’s
column, to make up for the missed opportunity on Friday.
The GJM president said henceforth any agitation for Gorkhaland should not incur loss of life. “We have led our lives for Gorkhaland. We have told the Government what our demand is. Now, my opinion is that we should not die for our aspiration and dream as there are other ways to make our voice heard,” Tamang said.
The GJM leader said the sacrifices of the martyrs would be documented together with a film on them which would be archived for future references.