Friday, October 27, 2017

Jail, Temple, Cremation and Brothel - the Continuity of a Murder

Well crossing the tolly nala, or chetla bridge could never be the same once you have traced the trail of the old branch of river Hoogly. Once you cross the kabi subhas metro station and continue towards Baruipur you tend to see the widened canal like river which is being killed slowly and bringing a sure death. Or you can go to the relatively higher floors of the alipur campus of the university of calcutta to see the river is waiting with green mangrove vegetation and silt bed for you to discover. Its river near the end, its river before the city- you know who is killing it.
Kaleidoscope used to go to his mother's sister's place in nacktala by crossing a peculiar canal - quite different from the one he usually saw. There were 'A' bridges connecting the Netaji Subhas Bose road and the marginal settlements on thr opposite to it. One could then experience a sudden appearance of rural cosmos after crossing those A shaped bridges. While he was curious, his father explained it was build so as to allow the passage of 'dingi' - the small and country made boats. Kaleidoscope could see the imagined canal little wider than that actually it was. He could fantasize sitting beside the canal watching those dingis making a reappearance. Those imaginations were bulldozed by the metro pillars and eventual destruction of those A shaped bridges locally called as 'sanko' meaning locally constructed often bamboo structured bridges to be used by people on foot. As Kaleidoscope grew up to see people dying he started visiting the local cremation grounds beside the canal. The first to go was his father's dear friend and he went to 'kaoratala' near kalighat.
He knew it was the same river - now the canal. Similarly he found the same practice when he went to Boral cremation ground in garia and visited the tripureswari temple. Elephant's bone, several undated potteries recovered underground while reconstructing the temple indicates people and their long blood affinity with the river which his civilisation has so casually forgotten.
Today his auto to national library met an accident on the top of the chetla bridge and he had to get down and wait unless the dispute was settled. He could only get a few minuits to stand on the cleavage of the river. Yes there are ups and downs in garia so does in chetla as the river left her markings and memories on the land whom she depended for so long. Kaleidoscope looked at the the 'jail', the cremation ground and imagined the temple and the brothel! The whole ditches of civilisation and its attempt to conceal them appeared at once on the bridge. Kaleidoscope felt like being sandwiched in the cleavage- entire loads of the history of civilisation and brutal murder was mounting on. He knew it was the confinement and right there lay the pathway to liberation. The air was thick so does the memories of murders of all the rivers that lay underneath.
One of the ferry ghats still remaining at Naktala

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bullet trains and 'fuck you' data

Everyone in India has some experience of a train ride and this is going be revoultionised with Bullets cumming after demonetisation disaster! It all starts with an image of 'fuck you' once I put some calculations in an excel spreadsheet. Blame it on United States entirely, as US is the country which is showing middle finger and its a spreadsheet designed by their gem. Lets have a look:

US showing middle finger as they don't mind (Data calculated from world bank report)

Okay so you got it US is showing the rest of the world a middle finger saying "fuck you" I don't care if I have to pay the highest amount for gifting California Bullets. We can understand that. Arnold Schwarzenegger being their governor for long time they can give a damn (remember total recall baby!). China smilingly takes their fingers down, yes, there is "I don't give a fuck" attitude prevails and that is an achievement in itself. The rest are the names of colonizers with charming wine clad little towns and the romantic noise in sum the Spain. The orange clad India stands wondering at the demonetisation on one hand and Bullet trains on the other. 

An imagined conversation:

Q: How would it be viable?
A: only if it has 100 trips, 88,000 to 110,000 passengers per day (click here
Q: Is it really free?
A: Nothings for free. Think about Rupee depreciation value over Yen (60% in last ten years). Remember the .01% interest rate and that amount of passengers being available. 
Q: How cost effective are bullet trains across the world?
A: Viable High Speed Railways is an oxymoron. It is nowhere viable and it cannot be. It is a political stand. (click here
Q: are we fucked?
A: Not yet
Q: Why not?
A: because we don't know the future and we are already fucked long back!

Meanwhile the orange clad pillar is making faces and might punch me on my face, hence, this is the end!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Reading on the Readings of Suranjan Das's Book entitled "Communal Riots in Bengal" : The story of a Pink ink trail

This is perhaps the fifth time that Kaleidoscope requested Suranjan Das's book on Communal Riots in Bengal - 1905 to 1947, an excellent thesis written by Das during his Oxford days. Kaleidoscope until tomorrow was getting the same copy with numerous blue marking here and there. It always seemed someone has meticulously read this book. There are also a few questions written on some of the pages of the book. Kaleidoscope could readily understand the nature of perception of the Ghost reader who has left his/her marks on the book. Kaleidoscope has read the same copy in 2009, 2011, 2013, several occasions in 2016 and in September this year. Until September all markings were in blue ball pen and by pencils. However, in February 2017 someone took the copy and meticulously studied with a pink marking. This pink marking seems to be very interesting which Kaleidoscope thought of writing about.

The marking begins with the acknowledgement section where Prof Das thanks to several people most of them stalwarts in the field of history. The pink ink marks the name of a lady about whom Prof Das dearly mentions and clearly states she happens to be a personal friend and a dear one. The pink ink puts a star mark! Who was that girl!! Yes, a smell to put a mark.

Later on it marks all the events with references to the possible initiation of conflict by the Muslims in places of Bangladesh and India. The pink line becomes thicker in places where Das mentions about the events allegedly initiated by the Muslims and disappears where similar incidents are allegedly initiated by the Hindus.

It doesn't mark lines which describe how trivial issues were actually given rise to the violent riots, in what ways Gujaratis have displaced internally a large tract of Muslim population from the city of Kolkata by using Calcutta Improvement Trust. It doesn't look at the agrarian backdrop of the Bengal riot neither it is interested to mark on the economic inequality issues of both of the religious people. It is only interested in pointing out the contribution of Muslim identity consolidation and initiation of the conflicts.

Yes, the Pink ink disappears completely from the conclusion chapter as the conclusions by Das doesn't fit in the stereotypes made by the pink like.

Therefore, next time you visit to the National Library order Suranjan Das's book with call number: E-954, D26 com. and look for the pink trail to read how the pink like reads it.

PS. Be sure to have your own readings when you go through the book. And, yes, Kaleidoscope in no means support putting marks on library books.

Past in Present in National Library

The old building taken from Bhasa bhawan through the century old trees

Coffee cup seems to be accompanying kaleidoscope everywhere. Like the rainfall isn't leaving his city, prolonging the ever reflecting verticalities on the road, on the wet floor, coffee cups are creeping up kaleidoscope's souls. The way his rapidly transforming city bringing him back to the present for future references is formidable. The rainfall and his lone time at the national library pushed him to write a few words for the long pending blogpost which he thought of writing in 2005 when for the first time he adjusted himself at the bhasabhaban at National Library instead of the main building.

Its the newly build architecture for reading pleasure at per with post millennium, postmodern glassy architecture that welcomes kaleidoscope with a weired smile. The old and colonial building which had book shelf integrated tables with mahogany polish, a small flower vase carrying one or two flowers and wooden floor is now looking at kaleidoscope, inviting but its still under rennovation and perhaps those past has gone forever.
The coffee corner

The broad staircase at the back which used to be the popular place for Kaleidoscope and his friends to eat and smoke is now abandoned and alien support pipes- aiding to the rennovation is occupying the lost time. Trees however remained as they were always have for centuries overlooking generations of the readers. The pleasure however, lies with the sofas beside the two story long glass panel to sit, read and relax, perhaps to sleep.

Of late there seems to be a rise of young civil service aspirants paying regular visit to the library, hence, while kaleidoscope was having a sip or two at the tiny little coffeestall installed beside the bhasabhaban, he could listen to the conversation on the nature of preparation for the approaching exams and the uncertain futures. A group of familier faces of the library whom kaleidoscope could remember since early 2000s are still discussing Marxists and the political change of 2011. The coffeeshop seems to have made the old canteen even more irrelevant. Unthinkably cheap tea and other things used to attract Kaleidoscope and his friends always. While other things have gone tea is still there and its Rs. 1:00 only.

The canteen kaka who used to look like Bollywood Raj Kapoor is no longer there with his secretly kept bundles of cigarettes to give us. The canteen like many other places have been postmodernised with tiled floors round tables and plastic chairs replacing 'outdated' bench like arrangements. However, no longer there is any queue for food coupons. You cannot have those delicious chinrer polao but certainly you can sit there and smoke - the legacy continues in puffs.

Approaching way to Bhasa bhawan after an episode of rain

PS. Kaleidoscope and his friends during 2005, 2006 used to read a lot about African archaeology in National Library. After four or five hours of uninterrupted reading their heads would gave up and they used to start laughing for no reason at all. They used to go inside the washroom to unburden the laughter (and water of course). The washroom now a day seems like left alone since then!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Glassy Selfie World - Narcissism and Postmodern architectures

The selfie world

The one glassy building:

Once there was a glass building with completely different and attractive looking architecture near Ultadanga - the VSNL building. Kaleidoscope, an aimless roamer in his neighbourhood was for the first time asked by an elderly fellow 'where do you want to take up your job?' Kaleido replied 'at that glass building near ultadanga'. 'Do you know which office is there inside the building' the fellow continued. Kaleidoscope replied 'yes VSNL' 'And what is that?' - yes of course kaleidoscope  didn't know the answer. He said 'i dont know but i would be happy  to see the graveyard nearby from the top of that office during tiffin time!' Kaleidoscope can't  remember the rest of conversation, but he does remember the attraction of that glassy architecture.

Many glassy buildings:

Later on he has seen many of such buildings coming up at different places of his city. Then there came shopping destinations which he thought he would never be able to go to buy. Now that there are many and that he has grown up, he doesn't have much aspirations or options to take up a job in the glassy buildings. However, looking from any of the top buildings, remains an important part of his fantasies.

While these glassy buildings are encroaching his city space, mushrooming everywhere to replace many of the thickly historical experiences, kaleidoscope stsrred seeing them differently.  There is one beside National Library and kaleidoscope is deprived of experiencing the colonial feel which was as precious as the books that took hours to appear from some hidden cave in the library. The postmodern bhasa bhawan replaces National Library. All of a sudden renovation means replacing mosaic floors with tiles, windows with sliding glass panels which reduces the open space to half and walls with wallputty!

Selfie world:

Hence kaleidoscope's world is now converted to a space that reflects your image too often. When you look at them they make you look at yourself - perhaps the front camera clad selfie mode in action everywhere. A world where there is no escape from selfie. You have to be narcissistic, you must be able to fall in love with and then transform the body according to your wish! You are made not to love everything of your body because there are other better bodies to see nearby, and you are more and more trying to change it. Yes, you chose to look 'good' because so many times you are compared with your heroes possessing 'ideal types'. 

As Kaleidoscope looks up beyond the glassy buildings there seems to be the outer atmosphere - the sky. Only attaining that high demands him to go through a series of colourful backlit flexes. Will they ever allow kaleidoscope or for that matter others to trespass them?

Perhaps trespassing is not a possibility without getting into 'properly' shaped. One should not only live but should also die sexy.

The fleeting worlds:

The glassy buildings not only makes your world a selfie world, but also makes you believe the transient nature and lack of permanence and depthless presents. Hence, there once was hometown mall now central mall and no one knows perhaps may be in a few years it would be office space like Gariahat mall. Who knows how long IBM clad DLF I or the like will stay? Glasses are easy to leave as they are! Aren't they? Additionally they easily breakable and replaceable by something new. Therefore, here it is, a transient depthless successions of architectures, or do they redefine depth in time, depth in stratigraphy in a dynamic way in a way we can say postmodern!

Meanwhile, its again the sky from above and a tall building calling! Meanwhile,  kaleodoscope knows attaining that high is restricted as the roofs are dangerous in high buildings. Is it true? or does the glassy world hold you back, because you are supposed to live (consume) and not rush for the sky! Not yet, because you cannoy die till you aren't sexy!

The newly converted central mall in an extreme angle.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Gorkhaland movement - (c. 1947 to 2012) a survey through newspapers


This article is based on newspaper references which I did during my IIMC (Indian Institute of Management Calcutta) years. I wanted to do some serious research and was preparing a proposal for the same. However, like many of my unfinished projects this too so far not been done. I am sharing this with a sincere hope that someone else might find this useful for his/her research. The language might be crude partly because it was always a rough draft I was preparing beside my busy preoccupations with other projects at the Institute and partly because I don't write well, for which I sincerely apologize. However, the facts are cross referenced with many links for you to take up your own project. I thank Prof. Bhaskar Chakrabarti and Prof. Raghabendra Chattopadhyay for everal discussions on these issues in the hot summer afternoons. I am grateful to the library staff of Bidhan Chandra Ray Libary of IIMC and National Library, Kolkata. Additionally I thank Mr. Lyngwa and Mr. Lyngdow of the Ministry of Water Resources, Sikkim for providing me valuable inputs during the inception of this research and for those lovely Darjeeling tea at Gangtok.

Table of content



The global political and economic forces call for increasing integration of diverse cultures. Social scientific theories argue for the obituaries of nation states (Appadurai, 1997[1]). However, at another extent there are local forces making a distinctive shift towards the formation of micro fragments (Singh, 1998[2]). The crisis of identity in this situation becomes one of the major determining factors in movements which seek to maintain culturally distinctive boundaries (Hall, 1992[3]). In this context the present paper would try to understand the nature of Gorkhaland movement and the question of Gorkha Identity in northern part of West Bengal. To do so, the paper uses secondary materials including scholarly articles and news paper references.

Gorkha: the question of identity

The word Gorkha has its origin from a district in Nepal of the same name[4]. The kingdom of Gorkha was established by Drabya Shah in 1559. In India the two terms Gorkha and Nepali are used interchangeably. However, the political movements in different times have favoured the term Gorkha to differentiate their movement for Gorkha and thereby not giving it the nature of a movement for foreign (Nepali) people (Golay, 2009[5]). However, scholarly articles have differentiated between Nepali people of Nepal with that of Indian Nepalese. As Subba (1992[6]) defines the former as Nepalese and the later as Nepalis its emphasis is given on the linguistic dimensions. The source of identity crisis as reported by the official website of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha lies with the very fact that Gorkhas are often treated as being different, not Indian[7].
The scholarly articles present a limited and fragmented picture of Gorkha identity. Pradhan (1982[8]), Subba (1985[9]) focuses on the aspects of migration and integration of Gorkhas in mainstream Hindu caste system. These indicate the existence of a fundamental fissure in Gorkha subjectivity.  

The Gorkha movement: a historical account

Historical development of Gorkha people in India since the mid 19th century encourages a separate Gorkha identity. Around 1900 the Nepali people find that their integration with West Bengal is artificial (Bomjan, 2008[10]; Debnath, 2007[11]; Chatterjee, 2007[12]).

Post independence movement:

Post independent India sees a stronger demand of identity recognition of the Gorkhas. In 1947 Communist Party of India (CPI) supported autonomy is demanded in public meeting in Darjeeling. Although local CPI leaders suggest the formation of “Gorkhasthan”, the leaders of Bengal vehemently oppose this idea. Afterwards, the issue of autonomy has been hotly debated over and over again in Bengal assembly. However, Bengal government never addresses the issue seriously. Even their language has not been recognised before 1988, when Nepali started serving as co-official language.

The language issue:

The plain land Bengal politicians have taken a long time to officially recognise the Nepali language. In 1961, the West Bengal Official Language Act recognises Nepali as a language to be recognised in three subdivisions of Darjeeling district, viz. Darjeeling, Kurseong, and Kalimpong. For the rest of Bengal, only Bengali is the official language. However, the implementation of these provisions has been taken place after the formation Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) – the autonomy given by the state in 1988 (Mokatan, 2004[13]).

Gorkhaland Movement under Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF):

The Gorkhaland movement starts in 1979 under the leadership of Subhas Ghishing led Gorkha National Liberation Front GNLF which launches a tough struggle. A separate state for Nepali settlers has been their principal demand. In September 1980 a memorandum to Prime Minister states that the objective of their movement is the creation of a separate state, the 22nd state of India. They further demand to consider Nepali as a language under 8th schedule of the Constitution of India. The struggle reaches its peak in between 1986 and 1988 where more than 1200 people die because of political turmoil. Meanwhile the struggle has been viewed sympathetically by the Nepalese people from Nepal (See Subba, 1992[14]) which gives this movement a pan country touch.
The GNLF takes an eleven point action during 1986 and afterwards which includes the following (Pal, 1986[15]):
a.       Observe a black flag day on 13th April against atrocities on Indian Nepalese.
b.       Organise a 72 hour Strike from 12th to 14th May, 1986.
c.       Burn State Reorganising Report of 1955 which attaches the hilly districts with West Bengal.
d.       Burn the Indo-Nepal treaty of 1950 which makes Nepali inhabitants of West Bengal as immigrants.
e.       Organise movement against indiscriminate felling of trees by plain land Bengalis.
f.        Boycott elections.
g.       Boycott MLAs, ministers and parties which does not conform the demand of Gorkhaland.
h.       Organise movements to stop all vehicles taking bolders from hills to plains.
i.        Do not observe important national celebrations including Independence day, Republic day, Gandhi Jayanti, Netaji Jayanti etc.
j.        Convince people to not to pay taxes.
Eventually with this announcement people meet with Khukris (Dagger) the traditional Nepali war weapon. They condemn CM Jyoti Basu and PM Rajiv Gandhi for the plight of the Gorkhas in India (Mukherjee, 1986[16]). To avoid mass disaster during the 72 hours bandh, the state deploys2000 policemen to the sensitive places and pre arrested 100 supporters[17]. The large scale procession show their support network in hills. This procession results in violent conflict between CPIM cadres and GNLF suppoerters (Kundu, 1986[18]). In this period the state government also gets intelligence report that they are spreading their network in the Terai and that an armed struggle would get initiated[19]. Meanwhile Ghishing threatens to begin armed struggle (Bhaumik, 1986[20]). However, their demands remain unheard by the centre. On 27th July 1986 mob organises with Khukri to confront police that results in killing of one police man, and several injured others. Police in response fires back killing 13 people and injuring 38 others. Army called upon and imposed curfew in Kalimpong[21].

State - GNLF: the dialectics

After these mass agitations, the Government of West Bengal issues an information document presenting the fact the Darjeeling and adjacent region has always been highly prioritised (Government of West Bengal, 1983[22]). Jyoti Basu led left front government accuses congress because of their support to the Gorkha movement and argues against Congress led government’s submission policies against agitations in several north eastern states (Pal, 1986[23]). In response Congress leader Priyaran Ranjan Das Munshi points to historical neglect by left government to the real demands of the hill people[24]. However, Pradesh Congress supremo Subrata Muherjee points to the Darjeeling unit’s support over the issue[25]. From congress’s participation in the meetings organised by GNLF his statement appears to be more reliable[26]. The then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi does not label GNLF movement as antinational, but he strongly opposes the division of West Bengal[27]. Rajiv Gandi sees the demand for Gorkhaland as something launched by the Nepali Gorkhas who start living in India after 1950s, and the removal of article 7 of Indo-Nepal treaty would enable their citizenship in India, which is unjustified demand. He however criticises Bengal government for not taking the development issues in Darjeeling seriously[28].
Along with increasing agitation Ghishing seeks help from UN secretary general and Nepal king. The home ministry expresses interest to initiate talk with GNLF. In this situation the Government of West Bengal argues that the matter of Gorkhaland falls under the purview of state government hence centre should stay indifferent[29]. However, the home ministry clarifies that the movement seeks support from outside country hence the matter comes directly under the purview of Government of India. The ministry advises the Government of West Bengal to prepare a platform to hold talk[30]. The Government of West Bengal however imposes three preconditions to GNLF before holding the talk, first, theat GNLF should withdraw their letters to UN and king of Nepal, second, they should stop violent movement, and finally, they must withdraw separatist demand. Home ministry supports the Bengal government, but warns CPIM cadres not to confront GNLF members[31]. On 23rd January, 1987 GNLF partnering All India Gorkha League (AIGL)[32] instructs every household and business men of Darjeeling to hoist Gorkhaland flag and celebrate anti-bengal day[33]. Eventually the Rajib Gandhi led Government of India expresses the concern for holding talk, and invites Ghishing to New Delhi[34] and announces that the Nepali people migrated to Bengal hilly provinces before 1950 would automatically become the citizen of India[35]. In response to this proposal they suspend their anti-bengal movement.
As a result of the inconclusive talk between the two, GNLF withdraws their movement for the next two months[36]. However, in March 1987 they also decide to boycott the assembly election[37] and warn that a mass scale movement is on its way.[38] The centre dismisses the deadline but assures for a good package.[39]
In summer of 1987 a growing frustration against Ghishing within GNLF is reported. Several extremists within GNLF reports agony because of the fact that Ghishing attempts to find a negotiated solution of the Gorkhaland problem[40]. Perhaps to placate his supporters Ghishing suddenly calls for a 13 day bandh, and violent campaign. GNLF activists blow off bridges and disconnect Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong from mainland[41]. In response to this while the Government of West Bengal deploys security forces to restore the law and order the Central government on the other hand escorts Ghishing to home ministry to initiate talk[42]. After the discussion he flows back to Darjeeling in an army helicopter to withdraw the mass violent campaign[43]. In September 1987 a meeting between Ghishing, Jyoti Basu on behalf of Government of West Bengal and Home minister Buta Singh takes place where all sides accept the need to give Darjeeling autonomy[44]. Eventually left front unanimously approves the formation of a Hill council.[45] Congress endorses the proposal[46]. GNLF also accepts the formation[47]. The Nepali language however is not included in eight schedule of Indian constitute until August 1992.

DGHC – the formation and failure:

The issue is resolved at least temporarily in 1988 by the establishment of DGHC which gives it a territorial autonomy to the Gorkhas to design and implement their own development policies[48]. The Structural feature restricts DGHC to become a full fledged autonomous body, because one third of the council members are nominated. Furthermore, although the body enjoys autonomy under sixth schedule of Indian constitution, it has limited power to generate its own resources. Two most effective revenue earning mechanisms, viz. Tea and forest resources are outside of its jurisdiction. More importantly they are supposed to supervise local government enjoying supervising power.[49] Several disputes between Darjeeling Kolkata emerge especially on issues of Local governance. Under the command of Ghishing, DGHC ignores participatory approach of decentralised planning. GNLF wins in three consecutive elections after 1988; however their performance remains sluggish (Chakrabarti, 2005[50]).
The establishment of DGHC as a means of giving regional autonomy, becomes more and more inefficient.
Even when DGHC’s sluggish performance is notable, the demand for a separate state remains unattended (Chakrabarti, 1988[51]; Biswas and Roka 2007[52]).

Gorkha movement afterwards:

Mc.Henry (2007[53]) points out the separatist movement would continue since there is a marked economic inequality between plain land and Gorkha inhabited part exists. Although economic development has never been an agenda as Mr. Ghishing finds Darjeeling to be far well off than most districts of Bengal (Bagchi, 2011[54]). However, the hill agitation that once compelled to form DGHC, has re-emerges with a new leadership in late 90s. One of the major reasons is the failure of DGHC and arguably Ghishing’s undue capitalisation of the movement.

The transitional phase:

Gurung’s unexpected settlement is seen by many as betrayal to the original demand of Gorkha people. GNLF’s swift consecutive win in DGHC election makes prominent fragments within the GNLF members. It goes on so far to make Ghishing dissolve GNLF party unit in Kalimpong because the winning member announces the regeneration of separatist movement (Karlekar, 1989)[55]. Ghising further declares that the council is not a stepping stone for the formation separate state[56]. With these statements GNLF fast looses its support base from the hills (Gazmer, 2008a)[57]. Throughout this period, people accuse him as betrayer (Times of India, 2003)[58]. The agitation against him goes on so far that people set a deadline for him to leave hill (Chhetri, 2011)[59]. From 2008 onwards, Darjeeling hills have seen an all party coordination against Ghishing (Gazmer, 2008b)[60]. Eventually Ghishing’s life becomes vulnerable as his house is attacked.[61] He no longer remains the face of Gorkha movement (Sen, 2008).[62]
Meanwhile, Mr. Bimal Gurung once a prominant participant of armed struggle under Ghishing led movement in late 1980s uses Gandhian style in his Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) led movements which gives a new dimension to the Gorkhaland movement in West Bengal.[63]

The politics of strike and state’s response:

Under the new leadership fresh demand for Gorkhaland gains prominence. In post 2000s the demand for the implementation of sixth schedule and removal of Ghishing before his term gets over gain prominance. However, new agitation begins to take shape as one of the RED FM radio jockeys comments on the Indian Idol contest winner as “Chowkidar” a common term of abuse for people from India's northeast.[64] This comment from a plainland Indian to a North East Indian fuels the initiation of movement that uses Strike as its main power.
Pre-tipertite meet in 2008:
The initial bands are called with demands such as the repairing of Hill Cart road.[65] Since February 2008 regular strikes hamper the daily life of people living in Hilly districts.[66] The repeated general strikes hit the tourism economy of the hilly districts. The strike covers the nationalised banks and ATMs which makes it difficult for the tourists to sustain.[67] The Morcha supporters attempt to spread the agitation towards the Siliguri, i.e. at the plains. They tries to initiate indefinite hunger strikes in Siliguri, however, cops are called to keep them out of Siliguri.[68] By June 2008 because of continuous agitation tourists start moving out the hilly towns. About ten thousand tourists move down suddenly as GJM supporters attack one of the tourist buses in middle of June 2008, a time when tourism activity is at its peak in North Bengal.[69] It adversely affects the tourism industry of the region as tourists become disconnected from the rest of the mainland India for a few days.[70] Eventually they are forced to leave Darjeeling and the adjacent areas.[71] The prolonged strike leaves detrimental effect on the famous tea industry of North Bengal as well.[72] One of the estimates indicates a total loss of $475,000.[73]
Viewing the situation the CPIM-led Left Front Government of West Bengal takes initiative to restore peace in hills. Buddhadeb Bhattachayya, the then Chief Minister of Bengal calls for an end of Darjeeling Bandh, after five consecutive days of successful strikes. The continuous hunger strike by Morcha Supporters leads to serious illness of several members.[74] Government of West Bengal is forced to initiate talk by arranging an all party meet on Darjeeling issue in June 2008.[75] In between tourists are attacked.[76] Morcha supporters initiate talk with Central Government of India. The GJM general secretary Roshan Giri meets the then Home Minister Shivraj Patil asking for a separate state- Gorkhaland. They are advised to convince the left front ruled West Bengal.[77] Initiation of talks between the centre and GJM representatives suspends the continuous bandh in hills upto July 5, 2008.[78],[79] Meanwhile Minister of External Affairs Mr. Pranab Mukherjee invites talk on Darjeeling issue without precondition.[80] Government of West Bengal shows no hesitation in holding tripartite meeting involving GJM and the Central Government.[81] The GJM leadership shows no softness towards West Bengal leadership. They blame the Chief Minister as responsible for the violence in hills through CPIM party cadres.[82]
Government of West Bengal protects Darjeeling hills with paramilitary forces as uninterrupted strike continues for 1800 hours. Looking at degraded situations, Chief Minister calls for an all party meet, strategically excluding GJM.[83] Another round of bipartite meet between Bengal CM and GJM leadership fails to yield any concrete outcome in following month. While the Government of West Bengal offers a greater financial and administrative autonomy to DGHC, they stick to their demand for a separate state.[84] In this context a tripartite meet becomes meaningless.[85]
Tripartite meetings and the Telengana issue:
After 2008 meet the centre, state government and GJM in a tripartite meet agree on principal to abolish the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council and to set up an alternative administrative framework in Darjeeling. In exchange GJM agrees to maintain peace in hills.[86] GJM rejoices this decision and sees it as the first step towards the formation of separate Gorkhaland. However, their claim for separate state is denied at the onslaught of the tripartite meet.[87]
In December 2009 central Government’s decision of making Telengana an independent state instigates GJM’s for separation. On 11th December, 2009 they launch “fast onto death” for separate Gorkhaland.[88] Four members of GJM along with BJP leader Jaswant Singh meet Home Minister P. Chidambaram to discuss on the possibility of forming a separate state. Because of their demand being denied, GJM announces a four day strike and relay hunger strike.[89] GJM’s activities during the December indicate Telengana movement works as an eye-opener for the Darjeeling parties.[90] The Government of West Bengal and Centre expects to meet in another tripartite meet during December 2009 but GJM shows no initiative to restore peace conducive of holding a meeting.[91] However after their meeting with senior opposition leader L.K Advani, GJM drops their Bandh call and also puts off the hunger strike to move positively towards tripartite meet on 21st of December, 2009.[92] These changes in the political climate indicate GJM’s eagerness to participate in the meeting.[93] However, the much publicised tripartite meet ends in stalemate because of GJM’s overemphasis on separation issue.[94]
Continuity of Agitation in 2010:
Because of repeated failure in tripartite meetings, GJM supporters threaten to drive Superintendent of Police and District Magistrate out of Darjeeling thereby installing home rule.[95] They give a deadline of February 10, for fixing up fifth round of tripartite talk.[96] After February 10, Hilly provinces observe a twenty four hours of strike.[97] As the agitation continues, home ministry finalises broad outlines for talk over the issues of Gorkhaland.[98] In March 2010, GJM proposes for interim set up prior to Gorkhaland.[99] The home ministry agrees on the demand and P. Chidambarm calls for a meeting on April 9 which prominently ignores involvement of state government.[100] The next tripartite meeting in May 2010 on Gorkhaland issue is failed because of differences of opinion regarding the territory under the interim set.[101]
Madan Tamang murder and aftermath:
When the future of the interim set remains uncertain, Gorkha movement sees a historical incident. The India Gorkha League president Mr. Madan Tamang, a prominent proponent of Gorkhaland, is brutally stabbed and killed arguably by GJM supporters.[102] This results in spontaneous shut down of hilly provinces.[103] The CPIM leadership blames GJM supporters for the murder. One of the senior GJM leaders steps down from the party in protest of Tamang’s murder.[104] CPIM sees the cornered GJM as a golden opportunity to reinforce their control which they lack since the onslaught of Gorkhaland movement.[105] Their political process fails to continue for long as the meeting regarding the functioning of Gorkhaland Authority for Darjeeling (GAD) instead of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council progresses.[106] The fruitfulness of the meeting results in suspension of bands by GJM.[107]
Agitations before and meetings after assembly election 2011:
With a view of maximising her support the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamta Banerjee, the then Railway minister makes a visit in Darjeeling with a promise to initiate development activities through rail.[108] Apart from this initiative the central government remains indecisive on the Sixth tripartite meeting with GJM. The party leadership decides to resume their politics of strike.[109] As the decision for implementation for GAD does not get attention, Mamta Banerjee announces job generating projects. She gets immediate attention.[110] However, in December 2010, GJM calls strike as the interim authority is not activated[111] which they withdraw as the centre assures them of taking quick action regarding GAD.[112]
With further delay from central government GJM leadership announces seven day strike in January, 2011.[113] By February the agitation reaches to such a state that GJM supporters burns down several tourist lodges,[114] and police kills two persons in Darjeeling.[115] The situation goes out of control and army is called for.[116] In consequence GJM announces continuation of strike.[117]
Meanwhile West Bengal progresses towards assembly election. GJM prepares to contest for Gorkhaland. A clear divide in GNLF and GJM’s strategic partnership with left front and TMC respectively is surfaced.[118]
Assembly election in 2011 sees a changeover when Mamata Banerjee led TMC gains a historical victory. GJM’s demand for rapid development of Darjeeling increases as TMC wins. Significantly the strong demand for a separate Gorkhaland decreases.[119] In consequence TMC indicates positive initiatives as Mamata Banerjee fixes up a meeting with GJM on June 6, 2011.[120] In this context the Union Home Ministry advises GJM leadership not to rush on to any extreme measure and to find a common ground for Gorkha issue.[121]
After meeting, the GJM leadership expresses their satisfaction with meeting outcomes, as they find a ray of hope in resolving their issues with Gorkhaland.[122] Their seven-point demands get attention from TMC led Government of West Bengal. As a result GJM retreats from their demand of a separate state, Gorkha Territorial Administration is deemed to be formed and Mamta Banerjee declares that Darjeeling issue is resolved.[123]


The history of Gorkhaland movement indicates a) multiplicity of factors ranging from identity issues to development issues, b) in several occasions the movement is negotiated with special provisions from the state agencies, c) leaders’ opportunism and d) often violent agitation which call for counter violence from state force. Politics of strike, violence and counter violence severely affect the life of the common people, the tourism and tea industry of the region. Although Bengal Chief Minister declares possible resolution of the Gorkhaland issue, more recent trends indicate virtual monopoly of GJM in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong (Banerjee, 2011[124]). After reading the draft bill of Gorkha Territorial Administration GJM study forum indicates dissatisfaction.[125] Meanwhile the main opposition in West Bengal, CPM finds GTA to be no solution. The day after the GTA agreement GJM renews its demand for separate state (Zeenews, 2012)[126]. In December 18, Times of India (2011)[127] reports that the youth wing of GJM asserts the demand of separate Gorkhaland as the newly-formed Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) will not be able to fully meet the aspiration of the hill people. The issue quite far from resolution and is going to play a significant role Bengal politics and tourism industry in near future.

[1] Appaurai, A. (1997). Modernity at large: Cultural dimension of globalization. New Delhi: Oxford
[2] Sing, Y. (1998). A lifeworld of disenchantment: Modernity, ethnicity and pluralism. Sociological bulletin, 4(2): 155 – 165.
[3] Halls, S. (1992). The question of cultural identity, in S. Hall , D. Hall et al. (Eds.). Modernity and its future. Polity Press, Open University.
[5] Golay, B. (2009). Rethinking Gorkha identity: Outside the imperium of discourse, hegemony and history, in Subba, T. B., Sinha, A. C., Nepal, G. S, Nepal, D. R (2009). Indian Nepalese: Issues and perspectives. New Delhi: Concept
[6] Subba, T. B. (1992). Ethnicity, state and development: A case study of the Gorkhaland movement. New Delhi: Vikas
[8] Pradhan, K. (1982). Pahilo Pahar. Darjeeling: Shyam
[9] Subba, T. B. (1985). Caste relations in Nepal and India, Social Change, 15(4): 23 – 26
[10] D.S. Bomjan, (2008). Darjeeling-Dooars, People and Place under Bengal’s Neo-Colonial Rule, Darjeeling: Bikash Jana Sahitya Kendra.
[11] Debnath (ed.) (2007), Social and Political Tensions in North Bengal since 1947, Siliguri: N.L. Publishers.
[12] Aditi Chatterji, (2007). Contested Landscapes: the Story of Darjeeling, Kolkata: INTACH.
[13] Moktan, K. (ed.). (2004). Sikkim and Darjeeling – Compendium of Documents, Varanas: Gopal.
[14]Subba, T. B. (1992). Ethnicity, state and development: A case study of the Gorkhaland movement. New Delhi: Vikas
[15] Pal, S. (1986). Danger brews in Darjeeling. The Hindustan Times, 1st June.
[16] Mukherjee, T. (1986). Fresh demands for Gorkhaland. The Telegraph, 24th April, 1986
[17] “100 Activists of Gorkha Front Arrested,” The Statesman, 12 May 1986, p.1.
[18] Kundu, P. (1986). “Widespread Violence in Darjeeling,” The Statesman, 13 May 1986,
[19] “Gorkhas Break Away from CPM Union,” The Hindustan Times, 31 May 1986, p.8.
[20] Prashun Bhaumik, “GNLF Threatens to Take Up Arms,” The Telegraph, 18 July 1986, p.1.
[21] “9 GNLF Activists Die in Firing in Kalimpong,” The Statesman, 28 July 1986, p.1.
[22] Gorkhaland Agitation: The Issues, an Information Document published by the Government of West Bengal, 1 October 1986.
[23] Pal, S. (1986). Danger brews in Darjeeling. The Hindustan Times, 1st June.
[24] “Congress Denies Hand in Gorkha Stir,” The Telegraph, 12 May 1986, p.4.
[25] “Congress I Helping GNLF: Subrata,” The Telegraph, 16 May 1986, p.1.
[26] “Darjeeling Congress Unit Backs GNLF,” The Times of India, 31 May 1986, p.9.
[27] “GNLF Not Anti-National, Says Rajiv,” The Statesman, 19 September 1986, p.1.
[28] “Nepal Nationals Behind Stir: PM,” The Telegraph, 24 September 1986, p.1.
[29] “Buta’s Letter Contradicts PM’s Stand on GNLF,” The Times of India, 28 September 1986, p.1.
[30] “Basu Should Prepare the Ground for Talks with the GNLF,” The Statesman, 8 October 1986, p.1.
[31] “Ghising Must Agree to Left Front Terms, Says Buta Singh,” The Telegraph, 25 October 1986, p.1; “Do Not Make GNLF Poll Issue, Says PM,” The Telegraph, 14 November 1986, p.1.
[32] “Gorkha League Joins Hands with theGNLF,” The Times of India, 19November 1986, p.1.
[33] “GNLF Call for anti-Bengal Day on January 23,” The Statesman, 28 December 1986, p.1.
[34] “Centre Calls Ghising for Talks on Citizenship Issue,” The Statesman, 23 January 1987, p.1.
[35] “Partial Acceptance of Ghising’s Demand,” The Hindustan Times, 2 January 1987, p.9
[36] “GNLF Suspends Agitation,” The Hindu, 4 February 1987, p.1.
[37] “GNLF to Boycott Elections,” The Statesman, 14 February 1987, p.1
[38] “Centre Given 30 Days to Recognise ‘Gorkhaland,’ ” The Telegraph, 27 March 1987, p.1.
[39] “Central Package to SolveGNLFProblem: Basu,” The Statesman, 12April 1987, p.1.
[40] “Revolt in GNLF Against Ghising,” The Times of India, 1 June 1987, p.9.
[41] Shyamal Sarkar, “Widespread Violence in Darjeeling,” The Statesman, 21 June 1987, p.1.
[42] “Emissary Contacts Ghising: Orgy of Violence Continues,” The Statesman, 23 June 1987, p.1.
[43] Shyamal Sarkar, “Ghising Flown to Darjeeling to Pave Way for Talks,” The Statesman, 28 June 1987, p.1.
[44] “Darjeeling to be Autonomous,” The Times of India, 5 September 1987, p.1.
[45] “Left Front Approves Council for Darjeeling,” The Telegraph, 16 September 1987, p. 1
[46] “Congress to Support Hill Council Plan,” The Telegraph, 17 September 1987, p.4.
[47] “GNLFAccepts Hill Council ‘in Principle,’ ” TheTelegraph, 27September 1987, p.1.
[49] Notification by the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary Part-1, Section 1 (New Delhi: 23 August 1988, No. 26011/6/88-IC.I).
[50] Chakrabarti, S.C. (2005). Silence under Freedom: the strange story of democracy in the Darjeeling Hills, in R. Samaddar (ed.), The Politics of Autonomy, New Delhi
[51] Chakrabarti, D. (1988). Evolution of politics of segregation, University of North Bengal
[52] Biswas, S, and Roka, S., (2007). Darjeeling: Truth and beyond – history of Darjeeling. Darjeeling
[53] McHenry, D. E. (2007). Is economic inequality a foundation of separatist identity? An examination of successful and unsuccessful movements in India. In Annual meeting of Asian studies on the pacific coast, Honolulu, Hawaii
[54] Bagchi, R. (2011). Gorkhaland movement: Revolt or assertion?, The Statesman,March 11, 2011. Accessed from on 15th May, 2011
[55] Hiranmay Karlekar, “For Peace in Darjeeling,” Indian Express, 3 February 1989.
[56] “No Separate State, Says Ghising,” The Statesman, 24 January 1989, pp.1 and 9.
[57] Gazmer, D. (2008a). Ghising, once the king of hills, now a lonely man, The Times of India, June, 16, 2008. Accessed from on 12th May, 2011
[58] Times of India (2003). Ghisingh sold our language, soil and vote, September 2003. Accessed from  on 18th May, 2011
[59] Chhetri, V. (2011). Deadline for GNLF chief, The Telegraph, April 11 Accessed from on 18th May, 2011
[60] Gazmer, D. (2008a). Hill Parties Rally Behind GJM, Times of India, Februrary, 24, 2008. Accessed from on 18th May, 2011.
[61] The Telegraph, GNLF leader’s house attacked, party threatens shutdown, November, 16, 2008. Accessed from on 18th May, 2011.
[62] Sen, A. (2008). Meet the faces behind Gorkhaland agitation, June, 17, CNN-IBN. Accessed from
[63] The Times of India (2003). Gurung emerges from Ghisingh's shadow, Jun, 13, 2008. Accessed from
[64]The Hindu, (2008) Govt justifies ban on Red FM in TDSAT  Accessed from on 18th June, 2011.
[66] Bandh hits life in Darjeeling, The Hindu February 21, 2008. Accessed from on 18th June, 2011.
[67] Morcha strike covers banks, The Telegraph February, 18, 2008. Accessed from on 21st June, 2011.
[68] Cops Keep Morcha out of Siliguri, Express India, February, 21, 2008. Accessed from on 21st June, 2011.
[69] Gorkha Supporters Attack Tourist Bus Near Darjeeling, The Times of India, June 11, 2008. Accessed from On June, 21, 2011.
[70] Tourists left stranded as Gorkha Agitation Mounts, CNN-IBN, June, 11, 2008. Accessed from on June, 21, 2011.
[71] Unrest Hits India’s Famed Darjeeling Hills, Reuters, UK, June 10, 2008. Accessed from on June, 21, 2011.
Unrest in Darjeeling, Tourists Asked to Leave, IBN-LIVE, June, 10, 2011. Accessed from on June, 21, 2011.
[72] Strike in Indian Tea Growing Area, BBC News, UK, June, 9, 2008. Accessed from On June, 21, 2008.
On June 21, 2011.
[73] Strike Threatens India’s Tea Industry, Seattletimes, Accessed from on, June, 21, 2011.
[74] Call for an End to Darjeeling Bandh, The Hindu, February, 25, 2008. Accessed from on June, 21, 2008.
[75] Buddhadeb Calls for an All Party Meet on Darjeeling Issue. The Hindu, June 12, 2008. Accessed from on June, 21, 2011.
[76] Ethnic Tension in Darjeeling, Tourists attacked, Sify news, June 12, 2008, Accessed from on 21st June, 2011.
[77] GJM team meets Patil, stresses on Gorkhaland, Indian Express, June, 25, 2008. Accessed from on June 21, 2011.
[78] Gorkha Group in Delhi Suspends Darjeeling Bandh, CNN-IBN June 21, 2008. Accessed from on June 21, 2011.

[79] GJM leaders meet Patil; Darjeeling bandh relaxed till July 5, June, 24, 2008, News Track, Accessed from, on June, 21, 2011.

[80] Centre ready to table talks with Morcha but minus any rider, Express News Service, Jun 15, 2008 Accessed from on June, 21, 2011.

Centre Open to Talks but no Gorkha State: Pranab, The Times of India, June, 15, 2008. Accessed from on June, 21, 2011.

[81] West Bengal not averse to tripartite talks: Buddhadeb, The Hindu, June 18, 2008 Accessed from, on June, 21, 2011.
[83] West Bengal govt to keep GJM out of all-party meet, IBN – Live, June, 22, 2008. Accessed from on 22nd June, 2011.
[84] Meet fails to resolve Gorkhaland impasse, Daily News and Analysis, June 28, 2011, Accessed from on 22nd June, 2011.
Bengal Rules Out Demand for Separate Gorkhaland, Express India News, June, 27, 2008, Accessed from on 22nd June 2011.
[85] Buddhadeb holds talks with GJM team, The Hindu, June 28, 2008. Accessed from on 22nd June 2011.
[86]  Tripartite meeting agrees to abolish Gorkha Hill Council, The Hindu, August 12, 2009. Accessed from on June 27, 2011.
Centre agrees to scrap Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, Indian Express, August 12, 2009. Accessed from on June 27, 2009.
[87] Government gives GJM just a small rope, Indian Express. August 13, 2009. Accessed from on June, 27, 2011.
[88] GJM Launches Fast-Unto-Death for Gorkhaland, The Outlook India, December 11, 2009. Accessed from on June, 27, 2011.
[90] Telangana eye-opener for Darjeeling party, The Telegraph, December, 2009 Accessed from on June 27, 2011.
[92] GJM drops bandh call after meeting Advani, The Hindu, accessed from  on June, 27, 2011.
GJM puts off hunger strike, The Hindu, Dec 20, 2009, Accessed from on June, 27, 2011
[97] 24-hour Morcha bandh on Saturday Highway to Gangtok kept out of strike, The Telegraph, February 12 , 2010, Accessed from on June, 27, 2011.
[98] Home ministry finalises broad outline of talks on Gorkhaland, March, 16, 2010, Accessed from, on27th June, 2011.
[101] Hill talks trip over territory, The Telegraph, May 12 , 2010, Accessed from, on June 27, 2011.
[102] Top Gorkha leader fatally stabbed in Darjeeling, The Hindu, May 21, 2010, Accessed from, on June 28, 2011.
[103] Senior India Gorkha leader Madan Tamang killed, The BBC News, 21 May 2010, Accessed from,, on June28, 2011.
[106]6 Gorkha outfits to attend key meet with govt today, August, 3, 2010, Accessed from, on June 29, 2011.
[108] Mamata begins Darjeeling tour, meets political parties September, 26, 2010, Accessed from on June, 29, 2011.
[109] GJM threatens to paralyze Hills TNN Jul 5, 2010, Accessed from,, on June, 29, 2011.
[110] Mamata announces slew of projects in Darjeeling, SIfy, Septemer, 27, 2010, accessed from on June, 29, 2011.
[111] GJM calls bandh from December 21, The Hindu, November, 29, 2010, Accessed from on June 29, 2011.
[112] GJM calls off Darjeeling bandh, December, 18, 2010, The Washington Bangla Radio, Accessed from, on June, 29, 2011.
[113] GJM call for seven day bandh in Darjeeling from tomorrow, The Hindu, January 17, 2011, Accessed from, on June, 29, 2011.
[114] GJM violence causes Rs 3 crore loss to forest department, February, 9, 2011 The Hindu, Accessed from, on June, 29, 2011.
[115] Two killed in police firing in Darjeeling, IBN Live, Feb 08, 2011, Accessed from, on June, 29, 2011.
[116] Darjeeling violence: West Bengal government seeks Army deployment, NDTV, February 09, 2011, Accessed from,, on June, 29, 2011. 
[117] GJM Indefinite Bandh to Continue, No Relaxation, Accessed from, on June, 29, 2011.
[118] WB: GJM to contest elections for Gorkhaland,  CNN-IBN, Apr 17, 2011, Accessed from on June, 30, 2011.
[119] Gurung congratulates Mamata, says ray of hope after 34 years, IBN LIVE, May 30,2011, Accessed from, on June, 30, 2011.
GJM puts Gorkhaland demand on backburner, The Hindu, May 31, 2011,, on June 30, 2011.
[120] Talks with GJM June 6, says Mamata, News MSN, May 31, 2011, Accessed from,, on June 30, 2011.
[121] GJM in no mood to rush Didi, The Times of India, Jun 3, 2011, 01, Accessed from,, on June, 30, 2011.
[122] Gorkha front positive on resolution of Darjeeling issue, NDTV, June 06, 2011, Accessed from, on June, 30, 2011.
[123] Darjeeling issue solved, says Mamata after talks with GJM, Deccan Herald, June 7, 2011, Accessed from, on July, 1, 2011.
[124] Banerjee, A. (2011) GJM win Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong municipal elections, on November 18, Accessed from on January, 01, 2012.
[125] Gorkha Territorial Administration(GTA) Agreement and its Clauses Destorted, accessed from on January, 03, 2011.  
[126] Zeenews. (2011).  GTA solution no solution at all: CPI(M), December 23.  Accessed from on January, 03, 2012.
[127] The Times of India. (2011). Renew Gorkhaland agitation: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha youth wing, December 18, Accessed from  on January, 03, 2012