To justify their demand for a separate state outside West Bengal, Bimal Gurung and his Gorkha Janmukti Morcha are depending on a document prepared by Left Front government 27 years ago in a bid to counter Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) supremo Subash Ghisingh’s arguments for Gorkhaland.
“A book published by the state government itself, entitled Gorkhaland Agitation: The Issues:An Information Document, states that Darjeeling was never a part of West Bengal. Why should then we be forced to live in the territory of step-motherly West Bengal?” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told HT.
They have referred to this 50-page booklet published by the information and culture department in their letters to the central government and other political parties, too.
Ghisingh’s argument was that Darjeeling was part of Nepal and the neighbouring country ceded this territory to the British India.
The GJLF chief, therefore, demanded Darjeeling should be given back to Nepal. On December 23, 1983, Ghisingh had even submitted a memorandum to the King of Nepal asking him to claim back Darjeeling from India.
Copies of this memorandum was also circulated among the governments of the US, USSR, France, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. However, later he modified his demand seeking statehood within Indian territory.
The purpose of the state government’s book was to establish and spread the message that neither Darjeeling was ever part of Nepal nor the Nepali speaking population was its original inhabitants.
It showed, referring to previously done historical researches, that the Nepali-speaking population in Darjeeling had migrated to this area from Nepal after the British initiated setting up a sanatorium in the hills.
According to the book, the areas that formed Darjeeling were historically parts of two kingdoms, Sikkim and Bhutan.
“The present day Darjeeling district came under British occupation during the 19th century in three phases,” says chapter II of the book, titled A Historical Outline of The Migratory Movements.
The first phase was in 1835, when the Raja of Sikkim ceded a portion of the hills to the British, by a deed signed on February 1, to help them set up the sanatorium.
The second stage came following war with Sikkim, which resulted in the annexation of ‘Sikkim Morang’ or ‘Terai’ at the foothills as well as a portion of the Sikkim hills.
The third phase was in 1864, when a war between the British India and Bhutan led to the annexation of the hills tract to the east of Teesta, west of Ne-chu and De-chu rivers and south of Sikkim.
However, with the GJM has nothing to do with the demand of making Darjeeling a part of Nepal, this document hardly harms them.
“It is this state government’s data that shows our land was not part of them. How can they now pressure us to stay under their jurisdiction?” Giri asked.