Gorkhaland of various hues

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Darjeeling
  • Published 26.04.06
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Darjeeling, April 26: Gorkhaland continues to be an important issue with political parties in the hills, but a growing section of the population here is looking towards redefining it.

For youths, who have never witnessed the 28-month agitation in the 80s, Gorkhaland is no longer a mere identity issue but synonymous with employment, proper health facilities and higher education.

Harka Bahadur Chhetri, a social commentator, who was roped in by the People?s Democratic Front (PDF) for its election campaign, seemed to have caught the mood of the crowd, if the applause was any indication. ?For a person who does not have enough to eat, Gorkhaland is food. For a sick person, Gorkhaland cannot be anything more than a proper healthcare system,? said Chhetri, a teacher and a writer.

Braving torrential downpour, a large crowd gathered at Chowk Bazar here to hear Chhetri talk about plans for building a strong, vigilant and conscious society, instead of the usual abstract issues like no-man?s land and leasehold lands. He, however, did not exclude the issue of identity and Sixth Schedule from his speech.

Chhetri reminded how Darjeeling, once a hub of intellectuals, had fallen behind even Sikkim. ?The Sikkim government is bringing international agencies to invest in its state and talking about generating employment. Darjeeling, which once used to look down upon Sikkim as backward, is now discussing reincarnations of Vishnu,? he said.

According to Chhetri, GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh must be given due credit for starting the Gorkhaland demand, but his capability was restricted to that. Setting up development projects was not what Ghisingh was capable of, he added.

Amar Lama, the PDF candidate, too maintained that he would not promise the sun and moon to the hill people.