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DOOARS---GEO-POLITICAL REALITY



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DOOARS---GEO-POLITICAL REALITY
The area named as Dooars is a geographical region enclosed by Assam, Darjeeling district, Bhutan and Darjeeling district and Coochbehar district in its Eastern, Western, Northern and Southern frontiers respectively. The region is the habitat of Adivashi, Rajbansi, and Nepali speaking Indian Gorkhas, Hindi Speaking Communities, few Bengali and others. But the Gorkhas and Adivishi-Ranbansi constitute the majority of the population in Dooars. Dooars today comprises of one hundred and fifty-six tea gardens, forests with varied flora and fauna and rich natural resources and also Natural Tourist Spots. The tea gardens started by the British nurtured and nourished with blood and sweat of the Gorkhas and Adivashi-Rajbansi is a Live Monument of Friendship between Adivashi-Rajbansi and the Gorkhas even after of one and the passing of one century and a half century. During such a long course of time the intermingling of the great and historic nationals, the Nepali Language has become the Lingua-franca of the region. Many a writer subscribes the presence and influence of Nepali as an immigrant stating that they were brought there from Nepal by the British for Tea plantation. But such attribution to the Gorkhas inhabitants of Dooars is seemed to have been based on the light and superficial academic exercise only. As the history of any place is found to have started from pre-historic days and continuously extending to modern age and further to eternity for which Dooars has no exception. The available text in regard to the history of Dooars also dates back to the age of the Mahabharata. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee, who is regarded an authority on Ethnology and Language has written that the Kirat and Chinese soldiers had fought for Kaurav in Mahabharat War. During the "period of Mahabharata, the king Bhagdutt belonging to Kirat National had extended his kingdom upto the slopes of the Himalaya embracing the plains that included Assam in its east and Nepal in the west, under which present Dooars was also included. The Kirat, according to Col. Dalton, were the inhabitants of North-Eastern Frontiers of India and a section of it had reached and settled in Assam. Bal Chandra Sharma, an authority in Nepali Language and Literature writes that the eastern part- Pallo Kirat of Nepal is the main habitat of Kirat who are mainly divided into Rai and Limbu and further they are sub-divided into several castes and subcastes. But they are united into a solid Kirat by blood and culture. According to celebrated linguist and professor, Dr. Mohan P. Dahal, Rai and Limbu belonging to Nepali national and its other caste and sub-caste come under the name as the primitive Kirat or Kiratee who is regarded a distinct mongoloid family".{Man Narayan Pradhan} Thus, it is clear that there were settlement of Kirat in Dooars since the age of Mahabharata for which Suniti Kumar Chatterjee's opinion is par excellence and beyond an iota of doubt, as he has mentioned the settlement of Nepalis in Dooars since three thousand years. But the extensive increase of Kirat alias today's Nepali settlement in Dooars could be traced in short as hereunder.

In the year 1788 Nepal had overrun Sikkim and it is natural that the lands won by way of war were to be kept with discernible population belonging to the victorious nationals; otherwise the victory may not bear any significance and meaning. Hence, it is certain that the pressure for extension of Nepali settlement could not be avoided in Dooars from that very period. Further the historian "Kshitize Vedaalankar is found to have stated as that SANAYSI SENA (means army in hermitage dress), some had termed it as Bairagi Seena, was constituted and formed following the famous battle of PLASSEY in 1757. The damages inflicted to the East India Company by the Sanaysi Seena have also been mentioned by Bankim Chottopadhya in his novel Annandamath and Devi Choudhrani. The same Sanaysi Seena led by Bir Syamsingh Basnet had reached till Dinajpur, Rangpur and Rajshayee in 1776 and on its return in 1782 from Rangpur they had reached Dooars and Jalpaiguri. This fact also contains in the history of Cooch Behar". {ibid} The army dressed as Sanaysi were culled and constituted from Kirat who is known as Nepali in modern parlance. Bhutan is the immediate neighbour of Dooars and there are historical records of the settlement of Gorkhas in the west and southern terai of Bhutan since 1614. In the year 1772 Bhutan had attacked Cooch Behar and had taken it under Bhutan keeping the king and his brother in confinement. The victory of Bhutan over Cooch Behar is certainly due to the combined strength of army that constituted of Nepali and Bhutanese subjects. Thus, it is not only highly probable but also incontrovertible fact for the increase in settlement of Nepali population in Dooars from that very period. But later on Bhutan was forced to restore the kingdom to the king of Cooch Behar by releasing the king and his brother at the intervention of the British East India Company, who were superior in weaponry and warfare tactics. The British, despite being able in succumbing Bhutan into restoring the erstwhile Kingdom of Cooch Behar was not contented as it had declared war against Bhutan in 1864 on the pretext of violation of some conditions arrived at with the British for the restoration of Cooch Behar. The war ended through a Treaty which is known as Sinchula Treaty 1865 executed in between British India and Bhutan and the article II of that very Treaty runs as---"Whereas in consequence of repeated aggressions of the Bhootan Government and of the refusal of that Government to afford satisfaction for those aggressions, and of their insulting treatment of the officers sent by His Excellency the Governor-General in Council for the purpose of procuring an amicable adjustment of differences existing between the two states, the British Government has been compelled to seize by an armed force the whole of the Dooars and certain Hill Posts protecting the passes into Bhootan, and whereas the Bhootan Government has now expressed its regret for past misconduct and a desire for the establishment of friendly relations with the British Government, it is hereby agreed that the whole of the tract known as the Eighteen Dooars, bordering on the districts of Rungpoor, Cooch Beher, and Assam, together with the Talook of Ambaree Fallacottah and the Hill territory on the left bank of the Teesta upto such points as may be laid down by the British Commissioner appointed for the purpose is ceded by the Bhootan Government to the British Government for ever." In this manner the Dooars of those days comprising "Eighteen Dooars, Talook of Ambaree and Fallacottah" seized by British with armed force from Bhutan and ceded by the later as per the Treaty of Sinchula 1865 had formed the Geo-political Map of presdent day Dooars. Further as mentioned in the same article, "the Hill Territory on the left bank of Teesta upto such points as may be laid down by the British Commissioner appointed for the purpose" meant the part and parcel of the then Kalimpong, which was a part of Bhutan but today it is a sub-division of Darjeeling district. Thus, it is crystal clear that the Lands named as Dooars and Kalimpong along with its people settled there were dragged into British India in 1865 by way of Sinchula Treaty. But so called historians, intellectuals, columnists and politicians with scant study of the place and people claim the Nepali in Dooars as outsiders, illegal settlers, and immigrants and so on. Thus, West Bengal is the only state in India where the people who had entered along with lands and had been amalgamated into India are being called immigrants.In 16th century Salem, America, people who coveted the land of their neighbours simply ‘cried-out’ that they were, witches and devil worshippers, immediately these neighbours would be tried and sentenced usually to death, the land would be left to the neighbours. Bengal does the same by falsely ‘othering’ the aborigines as immigrants/foreigners/outsiders to appropriate their lands. As a result of such concocted and misconceived notion, the Gorkhas in India are facing a deep crisis of their identity of Indianess across the country. Similarly, the Bengali in India would have faced the same situation if there had been no separate state named as West Bengal with the existence of an Independent country Bangladesh having free border like that of Nepal with India. In that kind of circumstances the entire Bengali community of India would not have remained contented and satisfied with any arrangement other than a Separate State named as West Bengal within India. This fact could be corroborated that Bengal, Bihar and Orissa were once united as a single administrative unit Bengal Province but on reasons of national identity and other related issue they got separated and formed three states of the Indian union. Thus, in order to safeguard, protect and establish the Indian identity of the Bengali community they would not have awaited for hundred years with patience and loyalty the rulers of India as has been done by the Indian Gorkhas. But today Tripura and West Bengal the two states of Indian union are being ruled by Bengali community and it is an exception as of today as no other community has a privilege of having two state governments ruled by people having the same language, culture and ethnic composition in India. Hence, it is seen that not all but a few chauvinistic Bengalis are fully contented and satisfied to the brink with those kinds of exceptional political and administrative powers and privileges, not enjoyed by any other Indian National. This very privileged but unenlightened lot is unwilling to understand the urges, aspiration about national identity and problems of the developing compatriots. Hence, the rapacious opposition against the wishes and sentiments of Indian Gorkhas for having a homeland in India can be termed as the belching of contentment from political and administrative power as enjoyed by the state government. Thus, in the manner as stated here above the process of settlement of Kirat alias today's Gorkhas in Dooars was started from the time of Mahabharata. But with the march of civilization many twists and turns of the events on the land and its people has had taken place. The ups and downs course charted by Dooars was the result of the craving in the minds of the kings who were ruling the countries bordering Dooars for territorial expansion. But the twist and turn is found to have put at rest by the British due to their superiority in production, management and arrangement of effective armaments, ammunition and weapons for warfare against conventional weaponry of the erstwhile kings bordering the Dooars. However, the British could not enjoy the fruits of their superiority in armoury, intelligence and diplomacy by embracing all respect in Dooars after1947 as they were forced to leave India for ever tagging Dooars with West Bengal against the wishes of the people residing there. Thus, the region on being tagged with West Bengal after independence of India has been subjected to a sort of a neo-colonial rule and to get rid of it, the people are seen to be moving from pillar to post in vain. The suffering of the people and their fight for doing away with the same, if written, it would compile of voluminous political documents in independent India. Hence, as flashes of the same, a few lines from the oral submission of Manoj Tigga, president of Dooars Jana Sangharsa Morcha to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home affairs, Government of India on 10th January 08 would enable the readers to be abreast of the gravity of sufferings of the people. As he said "Gorkha and Adivasi are being yoked like two bulls for ploughing Dooars. We are ploughing land but we have not given rights on lands and there is no arrangement and system for registration of patta. Hindi is the medium of learning for us but there is dearth of establishment of primary and secondary and higher secondary schools. After passing higher secondary stage the students are not allowed to study in Hindi medium and they are forced either to opt for English or Bengla as a medium of learning. Further there is no provision of taking Nepali and Hindi as Elective subjects in Colleges and on making demands for arrangement of the same, the administration ignoring the demand tell the Adivasis to go to Jharkhand and Nepali to Nepal. There are ninety eight percent of Nepali and Adivasi in the total work force in the entire tea gardens of Dooars but in the administration, governance and political level there is no representation from the two communities. As most of ninety percent of Hindi and Nepali medium schools are being forcefully converted into Bengala medium and evidence of it as 5-E is being enclosed with the representation". Further, while making submission to the same committee on the same date, the general secretary, Manoj Tamang of Dooars Jana Sangharsa Morcha is found to have deposed as " Madam, the worker of Dooars is getting fifty rupees as daily wage and if his family consists of four member then each member will have a share of rupees twelve and fifty paisa and out of it a member has to afford two Meals and a Tiffin together with the expenses on health, education and entertainment. Thus, we are living with a sum of rupees twelve and fifty paisa and it is easy to think how we are surviving in Dooars. In this way the workers of Dooars are living. There are no other industries except tea garden and the workers do not have an inch of land on which they could engage for other means of production for sustenance. At the same time many tea gardens are closed and some of them on being opened, rations are not given and other benefit and right as mentioned in Plantation Labour Act are being denied. It is under these conditions that the workers of Tea gardens in Dooars are made to live. The political parties and Trade unions functioning in Dooars are seemed to have become a servant of the owners. It is neither the political parties nor the national parties that could take up the issue of the upliftment of the exploited as they are being kept suppressed by the ruling party and as a result of it being forced; we have formed Dooars Jana Sangharsa Morcha. It is our belief through our experience that until and unless we get political power in our hand in proportion to our population, our development is not possible, otherwise we would be made to live per-force like animals".

The deprivation, exploitation, suppression and denial of legitimate rights of the original people of Dooars by the immigrants claiming to be the real inhabitants of the place has been carrying on in a systematic way, being backed by mechanized politico-administrative power. As Dooars has five seats to the Legislative Assembly of West Bengal and one parliamentary constituency to the Lok Sabha of India. All these seats are reserved for the Tribals but it is only the tribals having total allegiance and dedication to the plan, programme and policy of the national and state level parties operating in Dooars are they eligible to get the ticket to be elected as representatives. However, despite being in the know of plights and sufferings of his kith and kin that form the tribal community, they were seen to be in no position to raise voices for them due to inexpressible inhibition. Thus, the representatives from the unit political level to the Assembly and Parliament seemed to have been fastened by the diktat of the national and state level political parties, against working and speaking for the communities to which he/she belongs. However, it is seen externally by the higher ups that they are the representatives of particular communities for whom they were representing. Thus, the majority of the people residing in tea gardens and working there have been made a sort of political machine that produce votes only for ruining their own socio-economic and political destiny. In this manner democracy has been made into a two edged sword that but cuts both ways and this is the Janus-face of the Marxist rule of West Bengal. A Marxist state, where the ill paid and the under-nourished are but substance. The substance that presses the electronic buttons to ejects the members of the privileged lobby to the lofty heights of political power. This political power has ensured the stability of the Left Front Government to create a record of some sorts. Similarly, this is the sordid tale about the superb technical faculty of the highly advanced and well developed ruling national over the underdeveloped and socio-educationally backward minority in the state of West Bengal. Prior to the Emergency rule of Srimati Indira Gandhi, Darjeeling district together with Mal and Matelli of Dooars comprised one parliamentary seat to the Lok Sabha. And, it was the only seat in the August House of India's Parliament having five hundred fifty members in which one Nepali speaking Member of Parliament was elected by the votes of Nepali speaking electorates. But during Emergency rule Mal and Matelli of Dooars was chopped off from Darjeeling and the district was tagged with Islampur and Chopra predominantly inhabitated by Muslim voters this has been formed as 4-Darjeeling Parliamentary Constituency. In this way the Darjeeling Parliamentary Seat for Lok Sabha has been made into an invincible battle field for any candidate to get elected, without the support and votes from Nepali and Muslim majority community, together with the Bengali and Hindi speaking electorates that form the minority. Thus, in such dispensation, the chances of sending one representative from amongst Nepali speaking electorates have been sealed for ever. The crookedly designed and politically innovated dispensation has tactfully ensured the victory of candidate belonging to the national parties only for representing to the Lok Sabha. The elected candidate in spite of being from Nepali speaking community would not be able to take care of the socio-political aspiration of Nepali speaking people in the parliament of India, on account of the guideline of the national party towards Darjeeling and its people. In this manner, in the democratic set up of the largest democracy of the world, the socio-political aspiration of Nepali speaking people of Darjeeling has been chained in a subtle way but it is seen successful democratic participation from other corners of India. Similarly, Siliguri and Phasideva the two Assembly segments of 4-Darjeeling Parliamentary Constituency, from where till late 1960 member to West Bengal Legislative Assembly were used to be elected from the Nepali speaking community, but today the naked fact has become like an allegory. And, recently a reportage carried by Local Daily that in the name of delimitation of constituencies "Siliguri sub-division which is smaller than Kalimpong and Darjeeling in area has been given one more seat and it has now three Assembly seats to the West Bengal Assembly. The Delimited Constituencies are Siliguri, Phansideva and Matigara-Naxalbari with 1, 61575/, 1, 43296/ and 1, 61750 voters respectively", (The Himalaya Darpan dated 22 June 08, published from Siliguri). But Darjeeling hills comprising three sub-divisions, despite making representations and waiting upon the Delimitation Commission with memorandum for increasing the Assembly seats has been kept unaltered and limited with three seats, namely 22, Kalimpong 23, Darjeeling and 24, Kurseong Assembly segments with 1,60000+,175000+and 170000+ voters respectively, (As per 2005 Electoral Roll). There are several Assembly Constituencies in different states of India with or less than one lakh voters. The Himalayan State, Sikkim is the immediate neighbouring state of Darjeeling and the Himalayan State has Assembly Constituencies with less than twenty thousand voters, In consideration of Geo-political and ethnical aspects, as well as logistic and strategic point of view, the allotment of twelve to fifteen Assembly Constituencies for Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars would have been in the best interest of the nation. But the ruler of the nation and the bureaucracy ensconced in the ivory tower seemed to have ignored the Chicken-neck of Eight States of North East India probably being influenced by the higher diplomacy and manoeuvrings of the chicken-hearted advanced, developed and erudite chauvinistic national ruling the state of West Bengal.

Further, Siliguri Municipality was formed for the first time in 1950 and it was headed by a Nepali speaking representative. But it has been converted into Siliguri Municipal Corporation in 1990 with forty seven councillors, where not a single Nepali speaking citizen was elected as councillor, as a result of subtle policy and programme of national party ruling the state of West Bengal. Likewise there is the Zilla Parisad in Jalpaiguri district for which there are provisions to elect six members from Dooars region. But in proportion to the Nepali speaking population that constitute thirty eight percent of the total populace has also not been adequately represented in the Zilla Parisad since its formation in 1978.

The Nepali speaking community in Dooars is a developing national mostly concentrated in the Tea Gardens. It is a universal socio-political fact that every developed and developing national aspire to have their national esteem to be protected and in so doing they seek their own system of governance, that could be compatible for social, cultural, educational, economical and political development in an unhindered way. And, the political parties throughout the world strive and also help people to stand on their own feet for the ultimate realization of the five objectives as mentioned above. It is also an accepted fact that the right to pursue, in the social, cultural, educational, economical fields, and political development in a suitable way, are regarded to be the Liberty of people as introduced by the French Revolution which was the first of its kind in the history of human civilization. The French Revolution was followed by the formation of nation states with the birth of Democracy in the world. Hence, the Rights and Liberties are found to have been entwined in the Constitutions of Democratic countries, following the periods of the French Revolution. Another greatest political event was the Russian Revolution that had also given utmost impetus to the liberation of the exploited and suppressed nationals in the world. Recently the abolition of two and half century old monarchy in Nepal is being claimed as the victory of DEMOCRACY. Thus democracy and institutionalization of democracy has been forming a way of life of developing and developed nationalities. India, after its independence has also drafted and adopted one of the most capacious and lengthiest constitutions for the second largest population of the world. India being armed with the voluminous constitution is in the present day context recognized as the Largest Democratic Country in the world. Hence, it is natural for the people living since the dawn of civilization in the region comprising Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars to have an aspiration to be governed as per the provisions of the lengthiest constitution of the world by rummaging its pages for deliverance from the exploitation, suppression, harassment, denial suffered at the hands of compatriots ruling the state.

The Communist Party of India (Marxists) regards V.I.Lenin as their political deity, as he was one of the greatest revolutionaries in the history of human civilisation. The leader of Russian revolution and founder of United Socialist Soviet Republic,(USSR) Lenin, while founding the USSR by honouring and assuaging the feelings and sentiments of different nationalities had asserted that the willingness of the national minorities to remain with the big and advanced nationality will depend on the role and attitude of the latter towards former. But the followers and worshippers of Lenin in West Bengal by ignoring the very Assertion of Lenin have formed their own collective belief, opinion and view that fits in the scheme of their prerogative to rule the national minority in a way and manner as determined by them without taking care and concern for the wishes and desires of the minority. Hence, some ministers, bureaucrats and well read intellectuals but informed with parochialism and belonging to a section of the Bengali community describe the demand of the formation of a separate state of Gorkhaland as per the provision of the Indian Constitution in force as SECESSION, DIVISION OF BENGAL, A DESIGN OF GREATER NEPAL, CONSPIRACY OF IMPERIALISTS TO DESTABLISE INDIA, ACT OF EXTREMISM AND SO ON. They never want to discuss the historical, geographical, ethnical, political and constitutional aspects of the demand but rather they express their willingness and readiness by giving money and some power in the form of autonomy to remain under them instead of forming a separate state of Gorkhaland, as per the provision of the Indian constitution. Professing to be Marxists they suffer from the imperialistic ambitions, and sham 'white-man’s burden'. In order to lord over them, they are even willing and ready to grant and confer a sort of mechanism which doesn't fall within the scope of the constitution of India for which the Government of West Bengal was seen to the rigorously persuading to effect a change in the spirit of the Indian Constitution. And surely, it was the most unfortunate event in the history of post independent India, when the central government at the behest of West Bengal State, attempted to extend the provision of the sixth schedule of Indian Constitution to Darjeeling - where the overwhelming population is that of the non-tribal. On the contrary as per the constitution of India, it is crystal clear that the said provision is solely meant for the tribals of the North East.



The Government of West Bengal directly ignoring the established and readymade provision of the Indian Constitution's Article 1-3C, under which a separate state can be easily formed has time and again procrastinated the procedure, by offeriing poor alternatives as options. Such alternatives that tend to further reduce the actual size of Darjeeling by carving out the Dooars and Siliguri from its original ambit. The same is not compatible to uphold the spirit of the constitution. In relevance to the resent day context of the overall situation, the Bengal Government is expected to be, democratic and more realistic. Hence, the Bengal Government on no account should give the impression that it is suffering from a serious syndrome of colonial hangover.

Come, then, comrades; it would be as well to decide at once to change our ways. We must shake off the heavy darkness in which we are plunged, and leave it behind. The new day which is already at hand must find us firm, prudent and resolute.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth.


Annexure I



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