Why is Darjeeling Burning?

It can be observed that the demand for autonomy of the Gorkhahas developed historically. Indian Government also knows that the demand is justified as Sikkim, which is smaller in size than Darjeeling.

The history of Darjeeling has remained linked with Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and the British India. Until the early 19th century, Darjeeling was under the control of the Kingdom of Sikkim. At that time, this place was called ‘Dorje-ling’ which means the land of the God of thunderbolt. Some Lepcha and Kirati tribes used to stay here. From 1780, the monarchs of Nepal attempted to capture this place. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Nepalese army captured the area starting from the eastern part of the river Teesta and up to the Terai area. The British tried to stop the Nepalese army and attacked them in 1814. The Nepalese were defeated and the Sugauli Treaty was made in 1815. They gave back the areas which they had captured from the Kingdom of Sikkim to the East India Company. This area was in between the Mechiriver in the west and the Teesta river in the east. The British made the Treaty of Titalia in 1817 with the Kingdom of Sikkim and gave this area back to them. In 1828, two officers of the British East India Company stayed for some days in Darjeeling and the British took this area in lease from Sikkim in 1835. Arthur Campbell, the director of the East India Company, and Joseph Dalton Hooker, a botanist, visited this place in 1849 and was arrested by the Sikkim troops. The British army then attacked and freed them. However, the friction continued and the British captured about 640 sq km area along with Darjeeling in 1850. Also, the British made the Sinchula Treaty with the monarchs of Bhutan in 1864 and took Kalimpong under their control. The British had a fight with Sikkim in 1865 and captured the area towards the east of the river Teesta. The shape of Darjeeling that we see today was actually decided in 1866.In 1907, when the British delegates came to India for the Morley Minto Reform, the Hillmen’s Association of Darjeeling demanded a separate administrative setup for Darjeeling. They again put similar demand to the Chief Secretary, Governor of Bengal in 1917. They also submitted their demand on this issue to the Simon Commission in 1929. In 1930, they submitted their demand for a separate state to Samuel Hoare, the Secretary of the State of India. Similar demand was also submitted in 1941 to Lord Pethick Lawrence.

In 1947, the undivided Communist Party of India (CPI) put their demand for Gorkhasthan to Jawaharlal Nehru, Liaquat Ali Khan and the Constituent Assembly. The Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League, under the presidency of N.B. Gurung, met Nehru and put the demand again in 1952. In 1975, Sikkim came under India and the Nepali language got recognition. The people of Darjeeling then hoped for getting their own state. Movements erupted in 1986 for the demand of Gorkhaland by the Gorkha National Liberation Front. At that time, Jyoti Basu, the then Chief Minister of Bengal, tried to curb the movement and around 1200 Nepalese people were killed during 1986-1988. In 1988, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council was formed. However, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha was formed in 2007 and the demand for separate state was again raised. A treaty was signed in 2011 to form the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). However, like the Left Front, the Trinamool government considers Darjeeling as their colony and follows the British tradition of considering Darjeeling as their ancestral property and place of enjoyment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s