OPINION: THE BURNING HILLS – an honest and forthright ‘article of conscience’  and a wholly justified fear, any moral reassurances to not question  ?!!

From Kalimpong Himalayan Times
By Sandip C Jain

Even as I write this piece, I am under tremendous pressure from my family, friends and well wishers not to do so. .. They fear I may end up like Madan Tamang ….

But my conscience does not allow me to keep mum not just because I respected Madan Tamang the man, though not necessarily the politician, but more so because I believe that violence and assassinations should never be a part of a civilized society which all of in the Hills want to create.

Weeks after the brutal slaying of the ABGL leader I still am having sleepless nights for the fact that despite calling myself a journalist I still hadn’t written a single word on the biggest political assassination in the Hills, in all times.

Of course some will argue that C.K.Pradhan’s murder in the broad day light in the streets of Kalimpong was probably bigger but that is their opinion.

Considering the timing, considering the stature of the man and considering the brutality of the act, I think this one act of brutality is the darkest moment in the Political history of Darjeeling.

The motive of this article is not to speculate about who enacted this bloody drama, if I did then the worst fears of my friends and family will come true, sooner than later, but rather this article is aimed at trying to make sense of the all that has been happening around us in the Hills in the last few weeks.

I know it’s a big ask trying to analyze something as complex and ill logical as the present situation in the Hills but then an effort has to be made even if the effort actually leads nowhere.

First the Madan Tamang killing needs to be put into proper prospective- of course who actually killed him???

Who ordered the killing???

Why was he actually so brutally slain???

Was there a bigger motive behind his killing than which actually met the eye???

I guess no one will ever come to know the right answers to these questions which everyone seems to be asking in the Hills and elsewhere.

Well actually, the truth will come out through the investigations that are taking place at the moment and in future but I doubt if this truth will actually ever be made public like the C.K.Pradhan slaying.

The CID has already started its investigation, maybe the CBI will probe the affair too but my feeling is that all of it will be just another eye wash… another drain of public money and another “natak”. And even if they one day place their finds on the public domain, not many will be too inclined to believe what they have to say.

Actually the general public has probably made its own opinion about the protagonists of this gruesome episode and this opinion will stick whatever the CID or CBI will want us to believe.

But one thing is clear and is for sure and it’s the fact that Madan Tamang was one of the tallest and most dynamic political leaders the Hills of Darjeeling ever had. He had dedicated his public life for the people of Darjeeling and for their welfare.

One cannot deny the fact that this man lacked nothing, he had the power, he had the influence, he had the aura and he had the money… in fact a lot of money, which he earned not due to his association with politics but despite it. An owner of Tea-gardens, several hotels and business interests in a lot of other fields, he was a man who did not need politics to make a fortune or earn fame and he was in politics because he genuinely was concerned about the innocent and gullible public of the Hills.

His death will leave a vacuum which will be hard to fill up again. Of course he had his defects… but then who does not and they definitely were not so bad that he should have been butchered like a lamb right in the middle of Darjeeling town. His loss has done more harm than good to our quest for separation from Bengal.

The commotion that was sparked off on the day of his funeral is another focus of this article. I have not seen a weirder political occurrence than this in my life.

The entire public of Darjeeling seemed to have turned against the GJM. The tearing down of posters, the slashing of all GJM Banners and the full throttle cry against the ghastly killing as well as its against the system that allowed this heinous crime to take place all combined to project a picture which suggested that the days of the GJM were numbered.

It seemed that Darjeeling was ready for another political upheaval and the opponents of GJM found themselves rubbing their hands in glee. The massive waves of protests against Bimal Gurung and his party was something unfathomable and it seems that Madan Tamang’s death had done what he could not do all his life.

With BIG B camping in Kalimpong, debates took place in every sitting room and tea stall alike on whether this was the end of GJM, Bimal Gurung and the Statehood demand and those in favour seemed to be winning the debate.

Then, the very next day of the funeral, the tide seemed to have turned the opposite direction again… Gurung and his supporters entered Darjeeling in a convoy numbering more than a hundred cars, despite supporters of the opposite camp blocking his path and it was back to normal for GJM. Nothing seemed to have changed for it.

On the contrary the rhetoric had become stronger and shriller and forgotten was the fact that the Hills should have been in mourning on the death of one of its most famous sons. It seemed that Bimal Gurung’s stars had favoured him again with no political leader of sufficient repute and goodwill being able to capitalize of the outpour of public outrage against him on Darjeeling.

Meanwhile, Gorkhaland is now Gorkha-Adhivasi Pradesh… Is this just another bargaining clip or a significant policy change remains to be seen. How and why are we trying to cajole/drag the Adhivasis into being a part of a proposed Gorkha State is something that baffles me no end and I am sure it does all the readers of this magazine too.

But I guess trying to get an answer to this may be treated as questioning the Almighty and may be injurious to my health so its best not to be too nosy about it.

Till a few months back I thought I could write without fear and without any apprehensions but today after the Madan Tamang killing I fear writing on political subjects. When someone like him could be slaughtered like the way he was, its best to leave the public (to) make its own judgment rather than trying to offer my opinion. Lets leave it to this for now ……….

How many times was Madan Tamang stabbed ? – and is still continuing to be stabbed so due to differences on the ‘Ways and Means’ of ultimately ‘disempowering’ a parochial Bengal  ?!!

From Darjeeling Times
By Joydeep Basu, Kolkata

The year 2007 is remarkable in the political history of Darjeeling with the sudden emergence of the Morcha focusing only on the attainment of a State.

Interestingly enough, Bimal Gurung surely succeeded in overshadowing other political notions and leaders as well. His emergence was surely overwhelming but his error of judgment was a declaration, not of achieving Gorkhaland, but of getting it by 2010.

Of course this declaration was important in order to keep the momentum of the movement, as because people of the hills were to some extent disillusioned also.

Demand for Gorkhaland was initiated by GNLF but it was pacified and diverted towards self-governance and welfare of the people in general. But it was initially a question of identity and the zeal, though overslept, did not die, all it needed to wakeup was a slight provocation.

It would be a monumental miscalculation to assume that Madan Tamang interpreted the whole situation in a different way, somehow compromising with the demands of the people.

He was not only a man of action, but also a man of contemplation. A perfect blend in the making of a leader struggling for decades to attain a separate state for the Gorkhas.

One mustn’t forget that in a quasi-federal structure, where it is the Central who ultimately prevails, getting a State is not so easy. Telengana, despite having an armed revolution, is struggling till now.

What the leaders of Darjeeling need is a strong understanding of the situation, analyzing the developments and interpreting it rightly to make the accurate strategy so that demands of the people can be fulfilled at the earliest.

It is also equally unfortunate that the elected representative of Darjeeling in the Lower House of the Parliament seems to have no botheration at all. (*?!!)

I knew Madan Tamang personally and on several occasions we shared telephonic conversations over quite a few issues. I have no intention to make this article an obituary, but his farsightedness and analytical skills were exceptional. I am sure that the people of Darjeeling have lost a great leader, a man of remarkable smartness. Equally sad are the people residing in the plains.

No one expected such a heinous act in public where the prime political party has publicly declared their policy based on the principles of the Mahatma (policy based on non-violence). In this age of violence it was of course a great relief to us when the GJMM declared that they would adhere strongly to Gandhigiri. We all appreciated. But we must not forget that Gandhiji had to suspend the Non-Cooperation movement after the Chauri-Chaura incident .

The Non-Cooperation Movement sparked off an incident of mob violence in Chauri Chaura in the United Provinces. A few police constables were killed, following an attack of a police outpost on February 5th, 1922. Disillusioned by this incident, Gandhi called for the suspension of the movement in 1922.

Therefore the GJMM should also ensure that there should be no distortion from the path of non-violence in the attitude of the people craving for a separate state.

Over the years the issue of Darjeeling surpassed all regional boundaries and it has become an issue of national interest. In such a situation the death of Madan Tamang send a wrong signal to the people all over the country. As a consequence the situation in Darjeeling has worsened to the maximum extent. People are terrified.

Not only the tourists will take the other way but the civil societies will also get a wrong and pejorative message. Is it possible to achieve any social/political demand without the support of civil societies? What we have learnt from our previous experiences?

How many times was Madan Tamang stabbed? Once, twice, thrice…may be innumerable times! Each stab on his face is an irrevocable wound on the dreams and aspirations of the people of Darjeeling.

One of my favourite English poets, John Donne wrote, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

OPINION: PLEASE MIND THE GAP – not understanding the “expansion of democratic consensus issue”  to rout out a parochial Bengal ?!!


Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh, that results in the delectable acronym, GAP, is the new aim of Bimal Gurung and Co who say the geographical markers of the putative state formerly known as Gorkhaland ought to include large tracts of the north Bengal foothills historically identified as the dwelling of the adivasi or tribal population.

Still engaged in a damage-control exercise after the murder of moderate Gorkhaland leader Madan Tamang for which a Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council contractor said to be “close to the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha leadership” along with two others has been picked up, the GAP seems to be the response of those advising Gurung to be “more inclusive” and/or to raise the stakes at the negotiating table.

It won’t work.

Primarily, because inclusiveness is not susceptible to sudden appearance by a tweak of nomenclature. And fundamentally, and I say this as a proponent of Gorkhaland in particular and smaller states in general, because most of those who support the formation of a separate state in the Hills do so on the twin planks of the will of the people (of the area) and their unique ~ when compared to the rest of West Bengal ~ ethnic, linguistic, cultural, developmental concerns.

For both the above reasons, do mind the GAP.

OPINION: SOME QUESTIONS NEEDS TO BE ASKED LEAST WE END UP RE-LIVING THE PAST ! – timely and forthright, and yet sub-consciously unaware of the GAP developments and how that unfolds ?!!


The parties like Gorkha National Liberation Front (C), Bharatiya Janata Party, All India Gorkha League, Congress, Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists etc have once again come together to form a ‘Democratic Front’ – an Anti CPIM and Anti GJM conglomeration of political parties dedicated towards championing the cause of Gorkhaland and the restoration of Democracy in the Hills.

However, while the objectives seemingly pursued by the ‘Front’ may seem desirable, experience and facts suggest otherwise. The parties in question had come together earlier to form People’s Democratic Front (PDF) in two different occasions and resolved to champion the cause of Gorkhaland and restore Democracy in the Hills.

The People’s Democratic Front (PDF) was however, not successful in either winning elections (General, Assembly and Municipal Elections) nor in winning the support of a majority of populace in the Hills. The PDF, in fact, even declared Dawa Narbula as its consensus candidate in the 2004 Lok Sabha Elections only to be out maneuvered by GNLF Supremo Subash Ghisingh.

Narbula won due to overwhelming GNLF support and the PDF fell in disarray. In both the occasions that People’s Democratic Front was formulated, the elections were knocking at the door.

True, the parties like All India Gorkha League and Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists in particular were opposing Ghisingh on numerous issues including the imposition of Sixth Schedule in Darjeeling Hills, it was clear that the Front was nothing but an ‘election platform’ for big and small parties in the hills which could not individually stand up to the Gorkha National Liberation Front and the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

The circumstances today may be different. The assassination of the former Gorkha League President Madan Tamang in Darjeeling is still resonating in the hills, the politics being played in the Hills yet still seem to be remarkably similar to the 2004 Lok Sabha Elections and the 2005 Assembly Elections.

In both the occasions the People’s Democratic Front rose up from political obscurity opposing the Sixth Schedule status pursued by Gorkha National Liberation Front. In both the occasions the People’s Democratic Front fielded consensus candidates only to be out maneuvered by GNLF. In both the occasions the People’s Democratic Front lost and fell into disarray.

Today, the Democratic Front (sans People’s) is opposing the Gorkha Janmutki Morcha and seeking to achieve popular support on the plank of ‘Democracy’ and the ‘brutal assassination of Madan Tamang former President of Gorkha League and one of the founders of People’s Democratic Front and indeed the present Democratic Front’.

It will certainly, be a strange déjà vu if the Democratic Front seeks to contest the 2011 Assembly Election by fielding consensus candidates. The interest of Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress Party in the Front is certainly an indication towards the same.

It would also not be a surprise if indeed the Front seeks to contest the election and one of the two (Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress Party) falls out on the issue of the ‘consensus candidate’. Both party wanting the ‘consensus candidate’ to be from their party.

The eagerness of the former stalwarts from the Gorkha National Liberation Front namely Dawa Pakhrin and Rajen Mukhia including some of the ‘underground’ leaders of Gorkha National Liberation Front to join the Democrat Front also indicates towards ‘electoral activism’ among the said parties.

If indeed the Democratic Front is not ‘interested’ in the coming Assembly Elections and is devoted to the restoration of Democracy in the Hills and the struggle for Gorkhaland, then the Democratic Front can set precedence for other political parties in the hills including Gorkha Janmutki Morcha and Gorkha National Liberation Front by calling for the boycott of Assembly Elections in the Hills.

Indeed if the establishment of Gorkhaland is the objective of all the political parties and leaders in the Hills, contesting the Assembly Election should be meaningless. Further, the ‘Democratic Front’ should call for non-participation of political parties in all types of elections in the Hills until ‘Democracy’ has been restored and all types of violence has been disowned by all political parties.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea either if the Communist Party of Revolutionary Parties (CPRM) disbanded its Swayamshewak Bahini (Volunteers Brigade) and the Democratic Front, as a whole, then demanded for the banning of all types of ‘volunteer forces’ being maintained by political parties including Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP) by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

Last but not the least, the Democratic Front, if at all it wants to be taken seriously by the general populace must come forward with definite road map towards Gorkhaland.

It must also come out in the open and launch agitational programmes besides simply opposing Gorkha Janmukti Morcha or the Communist Party of India Marxist else the ‘Front’ may be deemed to be a conglomerate of ‘opportunist political parties’ opposing which ever party is dominant merely for the sake of opposition and contesting elections.


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