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Of monkeys, religion and politics

M Chhaya in Kolkata | July 01, 2005 02:46 IST

The Gorkhas of the Darjeeling Hills in West Bengal who raised a bloody insurrection in the 1980s demanding a separate state are again restless-- this time with their chief Subash Ghising demanding the Sixth Schedule status for the entire Darjeeling district.

To top it, Ghising is using monkeys, animalist religion and other mumbo-jumbo to underscore a political point.
Ghising is demanding that Gorkhas be included in Sixth Schedule of the Constitution that will make the race a tribe and bring central benefits to them directly.

And to prove that Gorkhas are a hill tribe, Ghising has sent CDs to the central government that contain shots of various tribal religious rituals, worship of monkeys and other hill traditions.

Though a rare practice in the Darjeeling Hills, all of a sudden monkey worship and religious rituals followed in northern Indian hill areas are being carried out in the Darjeeling Hills.

Besides, he has also sent sheaves of documents, which refer to Gorkhas as hill tribesmen, from the British period.
In 1988, Ghising's GNLF called off their violent demand for a separate Gorkhaland state after the creation of the autonomous Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.

After three terms, it's time for fresh elections to the DGHC. But Ghising has stalled the election saying he wouldn't allow it if an alternative to the DGHC wasn't found or Gorkhas included in Sixth Schedule.

The DGHC's tenure has been extended by six months by the West Bengal government with Ghising as the caretaker administrator. It expires on September 25. 

Ghising has said the DGHC experiment has failed and revived the demand for a separate state.

He has, however, also said he would accept viable constitutional alternatives like inclusion of Gorkhas into Sixth Schedule.


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