KALIMPONG, Aug. 26. — Where is the socio-economic identity of the Gorkhas, was the common question as the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP) — a non-political platform claiming for the rights of Indian Nepalese — paid their homage to Sahid Durga Mallah at the Town Hall yesterday.
Mallah, a freedom fighter who was a member of the INA, was executed by the British on 25 August 1944. While remembering Mallah the BGP also asked about the present stand of the Gorkhas within the Indian Constitution.
BGP seniors stated that the people of the hills have always been looked down upon and discriminated, hence the factor of ‘identity crisis’ is most relevant to this community which has sacrificed hundreds of youths for this nation.
Saying that now it’s time for a more united fight for identity, a BGP senior, Mr Shanti Raj Sharma, said the Gorkhas have always lived with a feeling of insecurity. “We were chased out of the North East and Bhutan. Everybody has looked down upon us, hence it’s time now to rise up to a common cause”, Mr Sharma noted.
“Even in the course of history or in the present context we have been sidelined both by the British and Bengal”, he said. Demands like transformation of all the hill people into tribes or else there will be a division in the hill society were also hinted.
Significantly, it was due to the efforts of the BGP that a statue of Sahid Mallah has been installed in the Parliament premises. Dr Manmohan Singh unveiled it in December 2004.
The president of the Dooars Nepali Sahitya Samity, Mr Indra Gurung, alleged that the almost 11-lakh Nepalese population inhabiting the Dooars are in a hand-to-mouth situation and deprived of basic human rights.
“The Communist administration claims to have followed the policy of socio-economic equality, but what about factors like favouritism and Begalism which has flooded the state. We should all come under one banner, understand our responsibilities and work accordingly”, Mr CK Shrestra of the BGP, Kalimpong, said.