GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Langpih cloud on school arson – scared of educated Gorkha children, and interesting how political news from Darjeeling and the Dooars has been blotted out by our Telegraph, unknowingly deliberate or no space ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY E.M. JOSE
Shillong, June 6: The anger over the May 14 Langpih firing that claimed four lives showed no signs of letting up, as a Nepali Lower Primary School at Mawnohsynrum in Ri Bhoi district was torched in the wee hours today, even after a meeting between the chief ministers of Assam and Meghalaya yesterday.
The Assam-type wooden school building, built in 1960, was completely gutted, police said.
The incident surprised the Khasi and Nepali residents of Mawnohsynrum, who have been living in harmony for the past several years.
Mawnohsynrum is nearly 50km from Shillong.
On May 17, a 70-year-old Nepali cowherd, Loknath Bastula, and his three cows were burnt alive at Umiam in the same district.
Altogether 83 students, of whom 35 are from the Khasi community, are studying in the Nepali LP school.
Balari Kharpuri, who studied in the school till Class IV, said the Khasis and Nepalis lived in harmony and there was not a single instance of a quarrel among them.
According to preliminary investigation after an FIR was filed, the criminals scaled the small boundary wall of the school and poured either kerosene or petrol to torch the wooden structure.
They spared the upper primary school buildings that were RCC constructions.
“I was helpless to see the building up in flames around 2.30am and immediately called the villagers, but there was not much help coming in as it was the middle of the night,” the headman of the village, Aristar Ryngkhang, said.
According to him, fire engulfed the wooden structure very fast, razing it.
“We do not know who is behind this violence, but we are concerned over the matter and are ready to provide any assistance,” the headman said.
He said the villagers had been guarding the school after the Langpih firing to prevent any damage.
According to the villagers, the arsonists might have taken advantage of the lax security.
The headmaster of the school, Punya Subedi, who stays in a nearby village, said the villagers informed him about the incident around 3am.
“The whole building was gutted. It will take several months to rebuild the school,” Subedi said.
He said the managing committee would meet to discuss how to accommodate the LP school students.
As students from at least five nearby villages are studying in the school, the villagers have to find an alternative space soon.
FROM EKANTIPUR / HIMALAYAN BEACON
BY DINESH WAGLE
(Paraphrasing remixed for clarity)
During the course of my week-long stay in Shillong (and other parts of Meghalaya and Assam) I interacted with many Gorkhas and Nepalis both in their homes and offices. Some of the came to see me at the guest house I was staying in.
A person, before coming to meet me at the lodge in the Jhalupara neighborhood (that feels like any other Nepali town where Narayan Gopal blares at the music kiosk and youths playing Counter Strike video game scream Nepali expletives) called me to ask an unexpected question: “Do you think you are being followed by the Meghalayan intelligence?”
The person had more questions later at the hotel : Why do you think Nepalis are harassed in Meghalaya when they intensify their demand of statehood in Darjeeling?
Why were Nepalis were evicted from Bhutan around the time Gorkhas were agitating in Dajeeling?
Who killed Madan Tamang (two weeks ago in a gruesome day-light murder in Darjeeling) at a time when the Gorkhaland movement was reaching a very sensitive point?
Don’t you think the Indian government is unnecessarily worried about the possible movement for greater Nepal (of pre-Sugauli treaty days)?
Don’t you think the Indian establishment is doing injustice to Nepali speaking Indians by not trusting their commitment to the Indian union?
“Look, I am not a Nepali,” he said. “I am an Indian with Nepali blood flowing in my body. That blood boils when the so-called mainstream Indians try to question my Indianness. I can’t hide my eyes, my nose and my tone, can I? I was born with them. Every opportunity they get they try to associate us with Nepal and make a point that we are not Indians. I tell them we are not vegetation for which roots are important.
I was born in India like my father. So I am an Indian. Nepalis, let alone us who are Nepali Indians, are dying or ready to sacrifice their lives to defend you and your borders. Don’t question our commitment to India.”
That is why the Nepali speaking Indians are looking for an identity that keeps their Nepal connection and reminds their glorious history but, they hope, portrays them as Indians. Thus the change in telephone greeting.
The chief of the volunteering unit of Guwahati-based All Assam Gorkha Student Union no longer says ‘hello’. “Jai Gorkha,” he thunders if the person on the other end is a Nepali speaker, especially from northeast and Darjeeling area of India. “We are not Nepalis,” he said. “We are Gorkhas.”
Some Gorkhas feel the free flow of Nepalis into India is creating confusion among Indians as to which Nepali speaker is a Nepali and which is an Indian. They believe the Indo-Nepal treaty of peace and friendship that allows visa-free movement of citizens between two countries is the root cause of the problem.
“We have been demanding the abrogation of the treaty and the implementation of a visa system since 1985,” said Bir Bahadur Chhetri, president of the Meghalaya unit of Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh and ex-Bharatiya Janata Party leader in the state.
Some Khasi organizations are also demanding the same arguing that the treaty shouldn’t be implemented in Meghalaya at least. Some Gorkhas, under Pressure from Khasis, issued a statement two weeks ago demanding the scraping of the treaty when the situation was tense in Meghalaya.
(Khasis were attacking and killing Nepalis and Gorkhas to take revenge for the May 14 Lampi firing in which Assam police killed four Khasis who were part of the mob that attacked Gorkhas and police in the village that is claimed by both Assam and Meghalaya.)
“These people who call themselves Gorkhas look down upon Nepalis,” said Yubaraj Acharya, vice president of the northeast unit of pro-CPN UML Migrant Nepali Association, India. “Khasis don’t separate Nepalis from Gorkhas while beating, killing and evicting. They have targetted the community. For them all are Nepalis, foreigners. We are all migrants here.”
“But we are not migrants,” countered a Gorkha who was listening to our conversation. “We are Gorkhas. We are Indians, not Nepalis. Yes, the language we speak is Nepali but then English is spoken not just in England but also in America and Australia.”
Nepalis feel India should respect the treaty and ensure their safety as long as the treaty exists. “Nepalis are not secure in the whole of northeast, let alone Meghalaya,” Acharya said. “They are often harassed. The government of India should ensure the safety of Nepalis living in this region.”
Lack of security may be the case for general Nepalis but the government of India, it seems, is very serious about the safety of Nepali diplomats or visiting high-level officials. That is why, perhaps, India rarely allows Nepali diplomats or visiting dignitaries to go to its northeast region.
“Isn’t it ironic that no minister from Nepal has ever visited this region where tens of thousands of Nepalis live and work?” Acharya said. “Well, at least not in Meghalaya where I have been living in the past 45 years except for the SAARC summit a decade ago.”
When (Nepal) ambassador Bhes Bahadur Thapa visited Guwahati in 2002 he had said thar he was the first Nepali envoy to visit the region since 1967. He had complained about the uncooperative attitude of the Indian foreign ministry that dissuaded embassy officials from going to the northeast citing lack of security.
Last year two diplomats from the Nepali embassy in Delhi visited Guwahati in their personal capacity to take part in a program that a Giwahati-based literary group had organized at the financial assistance of Nepal-India joint venture BP Koirala Foundation. Later they complained that they were not allowed to interact with the Nepali migrants in the city by the ‘organizers’ who, the migrants suspect, were under pressure from the Indian eastablishment.
Despite all the turmoil on the streets and political instability, it seems, Nepal is more peaceful and hospitable. Indian envoys are not only allowed to visit but very much welcome in any parts of the country including the picturesque Mustang valley bordering China.
“Nepalis are complaining about the lack of interaction with the governments of northeast India and Nepal at the top level,” I told Mukul Sangma, the chief minister of Meghalaya, during an interview at his office. “How do you address that?”
“There should be official interaction at the top level,” he said. “We are organizing an energy summit in Shillong soon. We are expecting high level delegations from Nepal and Bangladesh.”
PS: On the last day of my stay in Shillong, as I was preparing to leave for Guwahati to catch a train to Delhi, a smiling and soft-speaking Gorkha came to see me. “I work for the MHA,” he said meaning India’s Ministry of Home Affairs.
“IB?” I asked meaning Intelligence Bureau.
“Why lie to you?” he said. “Yes, I am from the IB.”
MEANWHILE FROM KALIMNEWS
Fire in LD Kazi’s house
Kalimpong, June 07: Fire in Chyakhung house, residencial building of late Kaji Lhendup Dorjee, 1st CM of Sikkim resulted in destruction of important documents including the Padma Bibhusan received by late Dorjee.
The fire in the building located in Kalimpong was controlled by the Fire brigade.
Dawa Pakhrin severs connections with Ghising
Dawa Pakhrin GNLF leader announced that he severed his connection with GNLF. Having a difference with the GNLF Chief Subhas Ghising on the sixth schedule issue I am compelled to do so.
Though Ghising is my political teacher, Gorkhaland is my demand and I will stick unto it, he said during a press conference in Siliguri.
Ghising had lately demanded sixth schedule provision for the Darjeeling hills.
BRIEFS FROM THE TELEGRAPH
Six killed in van crash
Siliguri, June 6: Six persons were killed and 17 were injured when a pick-up van they were travelling in toppled on its side on NH31 near Sevoke this afternoon.
Bhaktinagar police said the deceased were Rasu Manjhi, 57, Masang Majhi, 35, Suren Majhi, 55, Payo Majhi, 40, Arun Majhi, 8, and Bishal Majhi, 45. All of them were residents of Damdim. The injured were admitted to the Siliguri district hospital and four of them are in a critical condition.
Darjeeling: The labour wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has called a 12-hour strike in tea gardens of the Darjeeling hills on Monday to press for several demands, including an interim hike in the daily wages of workers. In the plains, two apex bodies of trade unions also have called a strike in the gardens on Monday.
Alipurduar: Four of the five bison from Dyna forest that had entered two gardens in Banarhat on Sunday died following a chase and tranquillisation.
While one fell into a drain and collapsed, the other three died after they were darted.