The Gorkhaland dispute was growing since many decades. It was initiated on the grounds of language differences. Gorkhaland consists of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong, Mirik and other hilly regions which is facing a crisis right now, popularly known as the Gorkhaland Crisis.
The fact is, demand of Gorkhaland as a separate state of India is a century-old demand. In 1980’s Gorkha National Liberation Front and then now Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, that started in 2007 is still fighting for a separate state.
The people belonging to these areas are hardly connected to the Bengali community, considering their differences in language, culture and ethnicity.
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In 1780, the Gorkhas captured Sikkim and a larger area of North Eastern states that includes Darjeeling, Siliguri, Simla, Nainital, Garhwal hills, Kumaon and Sutlej, that is, the entire region from Teesta to Sutlej. The Gorkhas surrendered the territory to British in the Treaty of Segoulee in 1816, after they lost the Anglo-Nepal war after ruling the area for 35 years.
During the British rule itself, the very first demand for Gorkhaland was submitted to the Morley-Minto Reform Panel.
Post-independence, in 1952, All India Gorkha League submitted a memorandum to then Prime Minister Jawahrlal Nehru demanding separation from the state of Bengal.
The demand for Gorkhaland was intensified in the 1980’s under the leadership of Gorkha National Liberation Front supremo Subhas Ghising. The movement turns violent during the period of 1986,88 when around 1,200 people were killed. After a two-long year protest, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) was formed in 1988.
In 2005, Centre and State Government made an initiative of bringing this region into the sixth schedule of the constitution giving some degree of autonomy to a predominantly tribal area. But the Gorkhas opposed this sixth schedule and demand statehood gains pace that acted as a fuel to the fire. The four-year long movement comes to an end after new CM Mamata Banerjee’s Declaratin of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and Gurung is made its leader.
The movement for Gorkhaland state again intensified with the formation of Telangana in July 2013. The current phase of violence started on June 8 when GJM leaders led a protest demonstration demanding chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who was chairing a cabinet meeting in Darjeeling that day, take back the decision making Bengali a compulsory subject in all schools, including those in the Darjeeling Hills. The Nepali-Speaking majority was upset over the decision to “impose” Bengali on them, which led to the Gorkhaland Crisis in June 2017.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said, “Bengal cannot suffer the pain of yet another partition.” to defend the agitation.
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