July 11, 2017

A new state for India?

Why the country’s Gorkha population is demanding statehood.

The push for a separate state for India’s Gorkha population is reaching a fever pitch. Protests are now almost a daily occurrence in the state of West Bengal, with several ending in violence.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha or GJM (Gorkha Peoples Liberation Front) accuse the police of using lethal force in their attempts to quash the unrest - a charge police have denied. At least five people have died and more than 100 others, including police, have been injured since the protests began in June.

The movement was reignited over a recent decision by the West Bengal government to require Bengali be taught in schools across the state.

"Wait a minute. We don’t want to learn your language by force," says Upendra Pradhan.

Pradhan, a journalist in Darjeeling, who is ethnically Gorkha, spoke to The Stream ahead of his appearance on the show.  

"For us linguistic minorities whose mother tongue is not Bengali, we want to learn Nepali, English and Hindi. We want to learn the three languages that we want to learn." 

The government has since walked back the language requirement, but the news has done little, if anything, to change the cries for a Gorkha state. So is statehood inevitable?

Joining us on this episode of The Stream:

Upendra Pradhan @Jorebungley
Journalist and Political Commentator

Garga Chatterjee @GargaC

Swaraj Thapa @SwarajThapa
Center Committee Member, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha

Satyabrat Sinha
Assistant Professor of Political Science, Presidency University

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.