Gorkhaland (Nepali: गोर्खाल्याण्ड) is the name given to the area of Darjeeling district and the Dooars in north West Bengal in India and originally belongs to the ethnic Indian Gorkhas residing there since historical period.
The Darjeeling area was ceded to the erstwhile British Government by the then Chogyal (King) of Sikkim under a ‘deed of grant’ dated February 1, 1835. The deed read as follows :
‘The Governor-General having expressed his desire for the possession of the hill of Darjeeling on account of its cool climate for the purpose of enabling the servants of his government suffering from sickness to avail themselves of its advantages, I, the Sikkim-Patti Raja, out of friendship for the said Governor general, hereby present Darjeeling to the East India Company, i.e., the land south of Great Rongit river, east of the Balasun, Kahali and Little Rongit river and west of the Rango and Mahanadi rivers’.
The treaty of Sinchula in November 1865 between the British and the Government of Bhutan resulted in the annexation of Kalimpong and its subsequent addition to the district of Darjeeling
On April 6, 1947 two Gorkhas, Ganeshlal Subba and Ratanlal Brahmin, members of the undivided CPI (Communist Party of India) submitted a quixotic memorandum to Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Vice President of the Interim Government for the creation of Gorkhasthan – an independent country comprising of the present day Nepal, Darjeeling District and Sikkim (excluding its present North District) in the line of Pakistan.
During the 1940s, the Communist Party of India (CPI) organized Gorkha tea workers. In presentations to the States Reorganisation Commission in 1954, the CPI favored regional autonomy for Darjeeling within West Bengal, with recognition of Nepali as a Scheduled Language. The All India Gorkha League preferred making the area a union territory under the Central government.
Then during the 80s Subash Ghising raised the demand for the creation of the state of Gorkhaland to be carved out of the hills of Darjeeling and areas of Dooars and Siliguri Terai contiguous to Darjeeling, with a large population of ethnic Gorkhas. The Gorkhaland movement took a violent turn in the 1980s when Subash Ghishing lead Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) issued a violent demand for statehood, which lead to the death of over 1200 people. This movement culminated with the formation of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) in 1988. Over the years the state government allowed a free rein to Subash Ghishing and GNLF. The West Bengal government did not seek to control the DGHC as long as the demand for Gorkhaland was not brought up again.
After 20 years of GNLF rule the people of Darjeeling revolted against the tyranny, atrocities, high handedness and corruption of the GNLF and prevented Subash Ghishing from entering the Darjeeling hills. It was common knowledge that Subhash Ghising was close to senile as evident by his speeches at GNLF party congregations where he talked about the indigenous bougainvillea flower should be called “Gunakeshari” and the flower was a panacea for almost all diseases from common cold to diseases like AIDS. Apart from that, he was always accompanied by his personal “witch woman” who would give him the precise locations where he should erect a temple. One incident being he declared a big boulder lying on the side of a road in near Mirik as a rock from outer space, and ordered all of his “followers” to build a temple around it and to worship it. Since then the people of Darjeeling and Doors have reignited their fight for right to self assertion and development of the region by demanding the formation of Gorkhaland.
2009 BJP’s support for Gorkhaland
Ahead of the 2009 Indian general election, the BJP again announced their policy of having smaller states and will create two more states Telangana and Gorkhaland if they win the general election. During the recent budget session (in July 2009) of Parliament, three veteran Parliamentarians; Rajiv Pratap Rudi, Sushma Swaraj and Jaswant Singh have strongly pleaded for Gorkhaland. They also said that smaller states are better governed and developed.