Darjeeling swirled for almost two weeks. Since June 8, the resort town in the West Bengal Hills has seen battles clustered between demonstrators and security forces, while Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the region’s large Gorkha party, has relaunched its request for a separate state of Nepal. The region – which depends on tourism – has seen visitors away and an almost complete stop.
With the economy of Bengal north injured and the public order situation in a mess, the Indian army had to be called in to help the state police. Conventionally, you might think that this conflagration could end up hurting the Trinamool Congress, which is in power in the state. However, ethnic policy in northern Bengal is not so simple. Despite the violence, Gorkhaland’s turmoil could actually end up helping the Congress politically Trinamool, helping to further push their Bengali identity program.
Mamata Banerjee has recently used a Bengali identity to counter the display of Hindu nationalism by the Bharatiya Janata Party as he made incursions into West Bengal. Trinamool has designed a status symbol and is composing a state song, purportedly to affirm Bengali culture and mark the state as part of northern India, according to a report in the Indian Express.
Minister attacked the BJP for “foreign culture imported” in West Bengal. “People love Lord Shiva, the goddess Durga and Kali and others for centuries. This is a party that wants us to worship a particular god,” he said, referring to the BJP’s efforts to organize massive Ram Navami marches. While the BJP has used the Ram symbol efficiently in northern India, there is a god worshiped among Hindu Bengali – a point that Banerjee was trying to use in his favor to stir up the pot of Bengali identity.
However, his movement conducted a broader study of obligatory Bengali in the state, imitating the linguistic nationalism of southern India, where such laws have already been adopted. It is this movement that infuriated the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the mountainous regions of the state, which provoked violent protests, while the Mamata Banerjee cabinet met in Darjeeling June 8 (although this time, Banerjee had announced that the Bengali rule does not apply To the hills). The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha complained that the hill people of Nepal speak of the state were submerged by Bengali politicians – the Party sued as Banerjee celebrates the birthday of Subhash Chandra Bose in Darjeeling.
This is not the first time that the Benghazi ethnic tensions have been a catalyst for Gorkhaland. While the hills are dominated by the Nepal Gorkha, as the Himalayas give the Dooars plains, the population is ethnically fragmented with a large number of Bengalis and Adivasis added to the mix. In 2007, for example, the city of Siliguri, located in the Dooars, saw Gorkha Bengali riots. However, most versions of a future state of this Gorkhaland region include, although Gorkha is a minority here.
Along with all this, across the state, the idea of dividing West Bengal is a political charge idea that generates a lot of excitement.