Gorkhas Demand Separate State, Recognition in India

New Delhi (Christian Today) - Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh organized a national council meet and convention, December 18-20, at LTG Auditorium, New Delhi, urging the Indian Government to recognize their contribution towards nation builing and take measures to socially, culturally and intellectually empower the 10 million-strong Gorkha community in India.

|PIC1|Chief Minister of Delhi, Ms.Sheila Dikshit was the chief guest at the convention.

Union Minister for Heavy Industries, Santosh Mohan Dev, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs and Northeast Affairs, P.R. Kyndiah and Union Minister for Labour, Oscar Fernandes were amongst those who spoke on the occasion.

Tanka Bahadur Rai, Speaker, Assam Legislative Assembly, inaugurated the convention.

Several academicians and intellectuals spoke on the occasion recognizing the conribution of the Gorkhas towards nation building and supported their claim.

About the Gorkhas in India

Contrary to popular perceptions that the Gorkhas are citizens of Nepal residing in India, Indian Gorkhas have lived for generations in India, the areas which they inhabited having been ceded to the British by regimes in parts of Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim in pre-Independence eras. The Gorkha community, which came with the land and culture, accepted India as the motherland and added to the country's rich diversity. Gorkhas played citizens' role in the Independence movement, with many of them being martyred during the years India fought to free itself from colonial yoke.

Thousands fought in the ranks of the Azad Hind Fauz, while two Gorkha nationalists were participants in the Dandi March led by Mahatma Gandhi. An Indian Gorkha was a member of the Constituent Assembly. Post-Independence, many Gorkha soldiers have given their lives for the country in the wars that India has fought against aggressors and in countering terrorism in different parts of the country.

The mother tongue of the Indian Gorkhas is Nepali, a language that is included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution as a national language.

About Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh

The Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh is a representative body of Indian Gorkhas. As a non-political social organization, it reflects the thoughts, aspirations and expression of over 10 million Gorkhas who are citizens of India. The Parisangh was established in 2001. It has its headquarters in Siliguri in Darjeeling district in West Bengal and unit offices in almost all regions of India.

The Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh represents the will of the Gorkha community, not only in voicing their varied aspirations and demands in the country of their birth, but also in ensuring that their contributions to nation building are not uninformed to their nation and their fellow countrymen.

As a first step in this regard, the Parisangh took up the project to instal the statue of Shaheed Durga Malla in the precincts of Parliament House in New Delhi. A Gorkha born in Dehradun, Shaheed Durga Malla fought against the British in the Azad Hind Fauz and was hanged in Delhi in 1944. His statue, donated by the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in the Parliament House complex on December 17, 2004 in the presence of the Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, then BJP president L K Advani and other Union ministers and members of Parliament.

The Parisangh has also met separately with President APJ Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil in 2006 to apprise them of the issues related to Indian Gorkhas.

In its current programme, the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh has taken up seven issues as being vital for the social, cultural and intellectual empowerment of Indian Gorkhas:

· A separate state within India that will protect their identity as Indian citizens as well as ensure that their role in the Freedom Struggle, in nation building and in securing the country against external forces does not get subsumed.
· Protection of the rights of workers in the tea and cinchona plantations and the reform of the Plantation Labour Act of 1951 to ensure this.
· Protection of the rights and securing of the future of bonafide Indian Gorkhas in the states of North-east India.
· Commissioning of a Gorkha channel on Doordarshan for the Nepali-speaking Indian population, with telecast centres at Delhi, Darjeeling and Guwahati.
· Nomination of eminent Indian Gorkhas as representatives of the Government of India, including as governors, ambassadors and in prominent posts in government institutions and bodies.
· Ensuring Indian Gorkhas all the rights and allowances as applicable to linguistic minorities.
· To confer on the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh the prerogative of issuing the 'Gorkha Certificate,' a prerequisite for Gorkha candidates intending to join the Armed Forces, the Police Service and paramilitary forces.