Nepal – the country of the Buddha and the Mt. Everest

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Posts Tagged ‘darjeeling’

Personality: Amber Gurung

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 12, 2012

Amber Gurung  is a renowned composersinger and lyricist of Nepali music.

Amber Gurung was born in Darjeeling, where his father, Ujir Singh Gurung, a former soldier in the British Indian Army, was serving as a policeman. His mother encouraged him to sing and compose as a child, and he taught himself to play both Indian and Western instruments. He studied at Turnbull School, Darjeeling, where he had fallen in love with music singing Bible hymns.

In the 1950s, one of his important associations was with the Nepali poet Agam Singh Giri. He became the headmaster of Bhanu Bhakta School founded by Giri and instituted a music school, the Art Academy of Music, in the school’s premises. He recorded his famous song “Nau Lakh Tara” (a song about the sufferings of the Nepali diaspora in India) in the early 1960s, written by Agam Singh Giri. His students at his academy included musicians and singers such as Gopal YonzonKarma YonzonAruna Lama, Sharan Pradhan, Peter Karthak, Indra Gajmer, Jitendra Bardewa and Ranjit Gazmer. He worked as the Music Chief of Folk Entertainment Unit, Government of West Bengal, Darjeeling from 1962 to 1965. Here, he was barred from singing or recording songs outside the unit. He moved to KathmanduNepal in 1969.

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OPINION: Darjeeling to Gorkhaland – Name-Change To Placate The Dominant Ethnic Group

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 26, 2011



[The author is an advocate practicing at Jalpaiguri District Court.]

THE Gorkhaland agreement is an interim arrangement prior to the creation of a separate state of the same name. In a de facto manner, it legitimises the process of colonisation in the 21st century. There is no such parallel yet anywhere in the world. The sensitive aspect of the pact signed last month is that it has changed the name of Darjeeling to Gorkhaland. Implicit in the name, “Darjeeling”, is the fact that it was once a predominantly Lepcha territory.

Mamata Banerjee has tried to under-play the name-change in the Hills by quoting Shakespeare ~ “What’s in a name?”. This is bound to boomerang, and add fuel to the fire. To say the least, the pact is a hasty, short-sighted exercise on the part of the Chief Minister, reminiscent of Rajiv Gandhi’s brand of politics. It reeks of opportunism.

We need to ascertain whether the term, “Gorkha” denotes a tribe, a race, a caste or a linguistic group. Why did the leaders of the Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJMM) insist that the territory should be named Gorkhaland if there was nothing substantive? Why do they find the original name, “Darjeeling”, unacceptable? The name-change has been incorporated in the agreement. And the GJMM has stuck to its demand for a separate state by that name.

The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) is only a stepping stone towards a separate state of Gorkhaland within the Union of India. The permanent title of the territory has been reserved for the Gorkhas, to the exclusion of other ethnic groups, including the Lepchas. The hegemony of the Gorkha is inherent in the agreement. The grant of Scheduled Tribe status to the Gorkhas, as promised, will enable them to exclude all other ethnic groups from buying property in the proposed state. Read the rest of this entry »

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Gorkhaland for Sale

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 16, 2011

The newly elected Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjeeannounced on 7 June that the West Bengal state government has come to an agreement with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), the party leading the agitation for a separate Gorkha state since 2007. Gorkhaland was supposed to be carved out of West Bengal in India and encompass the current district of Darjeeling in the Himalayan foothills.

Darjeeling district is culturally distinct from the rest of the state by its primary language (Nepali instead of Bengali) and its character as a melting pot of religions and ethnicities (various indigenous tribes and immigrants from Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan). Now the leaders of the GJM have dropped the demand for a separate state and instead reached an agreement with the West Bengal government to form a new hill council with elected representatives to govern in a semi-autonomous fashion.

It seems that history has just repeated itself. The demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland is not new. In the 1980s, Subhas Ghisingh and his Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) led a violent two-year conflict for a separate Gorkhaland state. In 1988 Ghisingh accepted a political settlement, signing a tripartite agreement with the governments in Kolkata and New Delhi that gave partial autonomy to the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGCH), the governing body for the district of Darjeeling.

The 2007-2010 agitation was directed as much against the West Bengal government as it was against the leaders of the GNLF. The GJM accused the hill council of siphoning funds and claim that some GNLF functionaries, including Ghisingh, have amassed personal fortunes with money allocated for development. In short: the opposition parties like the GJM were not satisfied with the autonomy granted in the 1980s as it did nothing to improve the living conditions in the region (high unemployment, water shortages, road conditions that deteriorate every monsoon, and landslides). Since the second agitation started, there were frequent strikes affecting government offices, schools and transportation. Read the rest of this entry »

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ANGLO-NEPAL War with East India Company

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 15, 2011

By Mira

ANGLO-NEPAL WAR (Gorkha &; British East India Company war):-
By the end of the 18th century, the British East India Company was firmly established in India. The East India Company had occupied almost all the princely States of India. They were looking for an opportunity to enter Nepal. The British were welcomed to Nepal during the Malla rulers. But Prithvi Narayan Shah did not allow them to stay in Nepal and a troop of British soldiers under the command of General Kinloch was badly defeated by the army of Prithvi Narayan Shah at Sindhuli in 1765 A.D. So, the British were aware of the strength and courage of the Gorkha soldiers. During the regency period of Bahadur Shah, East India Company put forward a proposal that the British might be allowed to trade in the boarder areas between Nepal and Tibet. But Bahadur Shah rejected that proposal. In 1792 A.D., a commercial treaty was concluded between Nepal and British India, but that was not enforced. Later, when Rana Bahadur Shah was in Banaras, Damodar Pande concluded a commercial treaty in 1801 A.D. That treaty did not favour British interest. East India Company always tried to maintain friendly relations with Nepal.
The East India Company wanted to trade in Tibet. The only way to Tibet was through Nepal and Nepal would never allow the British to go to Tibet through her territory. Moreover, giving permission to the British to go to Tibet through Nepal meant loosing her own market, i.e., Tibet. In such a situation, the East India Company thought to threaten Nepal with war.
Another reason for British aggression to Nepal was that they wanted to reside in cool and healthy hill stations like Dehradun, Kumaon, Shimla and Darjeeling. These places were under Nepal at that time. But the immediate cause of the war was annexation of Shiva Raj and Butwal to Nepal in 1806 A.D. For some time there were meetings and talks to settle the disputes over Shiva Raj and Butwal. Ultimately, in 1814 A.D. the East India Company declared war against Nepal.  Read the rest of this entry »

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I never asked for Gorkhaland: Ghisingh

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 10, 2011

What Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) chief Subash Ghisingh said at a public meeting in Mirik on

GNLF Supremo Subash Ghisingh addressing his supporters at Mirik. Photo by Mohan Prasad. Photo from Himalaya Darpan

Saturday, his first since his return to Darjeeling after a gap of three years, will create a flutter in the Hills. “I never asked for Gorkhaland. I only used the separate state issue as a weapon to acquire citizenship for the Gorkhas of the country,” said the veteran leader.

” Delhi and Bengal failed to understand that I was using the Gorkhaland state issue as a brahmastar’ (weapon) to achieve citizenship and identity for the Gorkhas of India. Instead, they misinterpreted it as a demand for division of Bengal,” he explained to a modest gathering which braved the heat and humidity for more then two hours.

Ghisingh asserted that his true mission of Indian citizenship for Gorkhas was achieved when the DGHC was formed. “We should not use the Gorkhaland state issue as a tool to bargain for petty things. We have achieved what we wanted,” he pointed out.

To bear testimony to the GNLF leader’s remark, Ghisingh had dropped the demand for a separate state when the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council accord was inked in 1988. “In the overall interest of the nation and on the Prime Minister’s personal request, the GNLF hereby agrees to drop the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland,” said the very first paragraph of the accord.

Significantly, Ghisingh criticized the Centre for not passing the Sixth Schedule Bill but had a word of sympathy for the state government. “The central government did not pass the Sixth Schedule Bill in 2008 because their intentions were full of malice towards the Hills people. The Government must now honour the 2005 agreement, but even if they don’t I will not let it go,” he warned. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why is Darjeeling Burning?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 18, 2011


To answer this question I’ll have to tell you a little about Darjeeling’s history and its inhabitants who are essentially an indigenous people called the Gorkhas or Gurkhas as the Brits would like to spell it. In the beginning, they happened to be the most formidable adversary for the British during their campaign to conquer the world as it were, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. After having taken much of India, now their eyes fell upon a smallish hill kingdom known as Nepal which had a record of not having been under foreign rule ever and it is still true today as it had been then. This makes the Nepalese a proud people. During one of the British campaigns to subdue the Nepalese, the latter with a force of just two hundred soldiers and their families, are known to have held the fort of Nala Pani, near today’s Dehradun in India, for two years. It was during this siege, the British General Gillespie was killed. After cutting off the fort’s water supply, the British waited some more time for the Nepalese to surrender. When no such thing happened, they stormed the fort to find everyone had disappeared without a trace. It was a moral victory for the Nepalese. There were no more wars between the British and the Nepalese but only truces during which Nepal had to concede much of its territories to the British Empire. The British Raj in turn left them at peace and being impressed by their fighting skills, they began to induct able bodied men into their army. Thus was born the British Gurkha Regiment. Read the rest of this entry »

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Police open fire on Gorkhaland protesters, Army called in, shutdown today

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 9, 2011

By Pramod Giri, 08 February, 2011: In renewed Gorkhaland agitation, two supporters of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) were killed on Tuesday as police fired on a crowd in Jalpaiguri district. This was the first case of police firing since the Gorkhaland movement resumed more than two years ago in October 2007 under the leadership

GJM, which had wrested its present role from the Gorkha National Liberation Front.

The GJM said that three of its supporters who sustained bullet injuries were very critical.

After Tuesday’s firing, the entire Darjeeling hills saw a shutdown and Gorkhaland supporters in the Kalimpong sub-division attacked government properties and set afire public buses.

Trouble started after 11 am when the joint forces of West Bengal police, the India Reserve Battalion and the CRPF reached Sipchu, 550 km north of Kolkata, where the GJM was organising a hunger strike, and asked the agitators to disperse. Prohibitory orders on assembling were in force in the area. Read the rest of this entry »

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Text of Memorandum submitted to Rahul Gandhi by GJM President today

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 17, 2010

The Himalayan Beacon


Shri Rahul Gandhi
Hon’ble General Secretary
All India Congress Committee
New Delhi

Hon’ble Sir,

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) makes an earnest appeal to the Central Government and to your esteemed authority to show empathy and understanding towards the justified demand of Indian Gorkhas for a separate state of Gorkhaland. The demand, originating in 1907 enjoyed the popular support of the people in the Hills and Dooars. It is a demand based on our identity and political aspirations for self-rule within the framework of the Indian Constitution. In the past, several political parties, groups and leaders have reiterated the demand which culminated in 1980’s in the form of violence, bloodshed, loss of lives and property. but all proved to be futile due to misunderstanding, misinterpretation, misrepresentation and disinformation as orchestrated by the scheming left front government of West Bengal. A separate state of Gorkhaland has been the political aspiration of the Gorkhas for more than 100 years. The late Prime Minister Sri Rajiv Gandhi was well aware of the plight of Gorkhas and the ambiguous status that they suffered at the hand of the State Government hence was sympathetic to the cause. Read the rest of this entry »

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History of Nepali language and its importance

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 29, 2010


Since the creation of greater Nepal, the Nepali language has been popular as an easy means of continuity of communication between all language speakers of the nation. Many years before the creation of greater Nepal, the Nepali language had spread into use among Bhramhaputra in the east and Kashmir in the west. The linguists have taken the stone inscription of Adityabanshi king Damupal, dating back to 1038 B.S, as the official source of Nepali language. A copperplate inscription dating back to 1280 B.S is the historical evidence of Krachalya King’s victory over Kedar-land Gadawal to create Sija’s Rigime. After studying the gold inscription of Prithvi Malla of 1413 B.S, we can surmise that the Nepali language came into existence in Gorkha and Gadawal since then. Read the rest of this entry »

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Phulapati Celebration Out of Nepal

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 17, 2010

In Darjeeling Hills and Dooars Terai









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Gorkha deal may be sealed soon

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 7, 2010


A crucial tripartite meeting at the home ministry on Tuesday could practically seal a deal between West Bengal, the Centre and GJM, the outfit spearheading the agitation in the hill districts of Darjeeling. The three sides have been in negotiations over the past one year to work out the form, structure and powers of the Gorkhaland Regional Authority (GRA) to be constituted as an interim arrangement.

Last year, the GJM agreed in principle to an interim arrangement since talks on statehood would take time. The GJM also recognised difficulties in arriving at a permanent resolution as the state was heading for assembly elections next year. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ghisingh claims he will return to Darjeeling shortly

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 13, 2010


Jalpaiguri (WB), Aug 13 (PTI) Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) supremo Subash Ghisingh today claimed that he would shortly return to Darjeeling hills, from where he was driven out by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in 2008, as the situation had improved there. Ghising, who had first voiced the demand for Gorkhaland and led a violent movement from 1986 to 1988 before settling for the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), had earlier said the situation there was not conducive for his return. “We will return shortly. I am not announcing the date,” Ghisingh told reporters at his residence here, guarded by the police, where he has been living since his ouster from Darjeeling. He also claimed that the interim DGHC proposed by the Centre and on which tripartite talks were being held currently with the GJM and the West Bengal government was opposed by the people of Darjeeling. Ghisingh said there should also not be any dilution in the Sixth Schedule status that he had proposed for ensuring greater autonomy in the Darjeeling hills. Under the Sixth Schedule, the DGHC, which runs the administration in the Hills, was to get more powers similar to those enjoyed by the Autonomous District Councils of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura. A Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) on Sixth Schedule status to the DGHC was signed between the Centre, the West Bengal government and the GNLF in December 2005. The agreement was signed by the then Union Home Secretary V K Duggal, then West Bengal Home Secretary Amit Kiran Deb and Subash Ghisingh in the presence of then Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. The GNLF supremo’s insistence for Sixth Schedule status for the Hills had caused him to fall out with his then close aide, Bimal Gurung, who is currently the president of the rival GJM.

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Ghisingh Threatens to Revive Gorkhaland Demand

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 13, 2010

Outlook India

Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) chief Subash Ghisingh today threatened to revive his demand for a separate Gorkhaland if the Centre and the West Bengal government went ahead with setting up an interim Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).

Without naming the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which drove him out of Darjeeling in 2008 and proposed an interim DGHC to replace the present one to run the administration in the hills, Ghisingh said that it would be a ‘disaster’ and that he has submitted a memorandum to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Ghisingh, who had first raised the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland and led a violent movement from 1986 to 1988 before settling for the establishment of the DGHC, in his memorandum to Gandhi pointed to the tripartite Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) on Sixth Schedule status to the DGHC signed in Kolkata between the Centre, the West Bengal government and the GNLF (Gorkha National Liberation Front) in December 2005.

Under the Sixth Schedule, DGHC was to get more powers similar to those enjoyed by the Autonomous District Councils of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura. Read the rest of this entry »

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