New Delhi: Kathmandu has never directly involved itself in the Gorkhaland statehood movement in the Darjeeling Hills, but the Nepal angle in the Gorkhaland tangle figures prominently, says a new book.
"Gorkhaland", published by Sage India, is an attempt by journalist Romit Bagchi to unravel the various layers of the ongoing crisis in the Darjeeling hills, where the Nepali- speaking community is locked in a political struggle with the state of West Bengal, of which it is a part.
The author endeavours to delve into the deeper recesses of the psyche of the Gorkha community settled in these restive hills and attempts to put the prevailing stereotypes under a subjective scanner.
The writer approaches the century-old tangle from four perspectives: the history of the region; the problem of assimilation of the various ethnic groups; the course of the movement; from Dambar Singh Gurung to Bimal Gurung; and the hurdles in the way of the fulfillment of the statehood dream.
"The association of Nepal comes to the fore in any serious discourse on the restlessness in the hills principally because of two clauses that are enshrined in the controversial 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty and the consequent unimpeded migration from across the Nepal and other borders in the region into the Darjeeling hills and the adjacent areas in the plains," the book says.
The writer says that those supporting the statehood movement and those opposing it, both want an abrogation of the treaty for different reasons.
"While those supporting the movement think that the treaty compromises the status of the Indian Nepali-speaking populace as far as their national identity is concerned, those opposed to the movement ask for its abrogation to stop the unhindered migration from across Nepal and other countries that takes advantage of certain clauses in the treaty, affecting the demographic structure of the entire region.
"The governments of both India and Nepal have agreed to review the treaty, with pressure being put on them to have it thoroughly re-examined in the fast-changing geo-political scenario in the region," writes Bagchi.
According to the author, a popular movement usually has two layers, one on the surface and the other beneath.
"The surface layer bubbles with the emotive excrescence, while the deeper one, regarded as the enduring core, helps it to survive in time. What is generally found is that the emotive surface often tends to veil its more serious contents."
He says this is exactly what seems to be happening in regard to the Gorkhaland movement.
"What is assuredly the deeper core is giving way to the surface under the compulsive drift of the tenacious tangle."
The author says that despite several recent developments, the Gorkhaland phantom is still alive.
"The alternative council can hardly prove the exorcist. It is to be seen when and how the now-bottled genie would be uncorked in course of the moving political trajectory in the hills."