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The surging Gorkhas of Assam

Bijoy Ghimire

The Gorkhas who are popularly known for their bravery and fearlessness without any doubt are incredibly versatile fighting force and a unique asset to a nation’s military establishment. The Gorkhas were always remembered and immediately called whenever there was any international crisis.  The ferocity of the Gorkhas is as legendary as their loyalty to any nation they serve. The Gorkhas’ particular reputation as fearsome fighting men remains undisputed and the mere threat of their Khukuri knives have been sending shivers down the enemy spines for centuries.

But the Gorkhas of Assam today feel that their loyalty to India as their motherland has been questioned and are grossly discriminated in the ongoing NRC (National Register of Citizen) updating process. The information that the Nepali speaking Gorkhas of Assam will not be given the Original Inhabitant status in Assam sent shock waves within the community which resulted into lots of protests, rallies and large scale gatherings.

The representatives of premier organizations viz; Akhil Assam Gorkha Sammelan, Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh  and Assam Nepali Sahitya Sabha submitted a memorandum to the RGI( Register General of India) and the Home Ministry in the later part of July when confusion was at its peak for the  inclusion of Gorkhas/Nepalese under OI(Original Inhabitant) category in the ongoing NRC updation process in Assam.

The memorandum apprises the authority that the history of Gorkhas in Assam is not only 200 years old when the East India Company first recruited them in the year 1815, but dates back to the 8th century AD, when king Narakasura , adopted son of King Janak of Videha in Nepal ascended the throne in Kamarupa after killing Ghatakasura. He was born in Nepal and is credited with the construction of famous Kamakhya temple. The early pandas in the temple of Kamakhaya were Nepali priests, established there by king Narakasura for daily prayers. The early migration of Gorkhas/Nepalese to Assam began at this point of time.

Though the concerned authority recently issued several notifications through various means that there will not be any discrimination to the Gorkhas as such, but the repeated assurances have hardly allayed the confusion from the minds of the Gorkhas.

On the other hand, Harka Bahadur Chetry, chairman of GACDC (Gorkha Autonomous Council Demand Committee) undertook a historic marathon march from Murkong Selek, Jonai in Dhemaji to Dispur, Guwahati covering a total of 560 kilometers with the sole objective of registering his peaceful protest against the gross injustice meted out to the Gorkhas. Even after repeated assurances from the authority concerned that the Gorkhas would be treated as par the greater Assamese society, Mr Chetry went ahead and organized again a Janabhela (mass gathering) at the Khanapara field on 9th of September and said in strongest terms that the established regime should be ready to face Gorkhas’ wrath if they are being deprived of any of their fundamental right.

The NRC updating process is being done strictly under the supervision of the Honorable Supreme court of India, and it would be reasonable and advisable to all the stakeholders to wait till the draft NRC is published and made public.

The Gorkhas besides having special traits of adapting, assimilating and peaceful living in the Assamese societies are today striding in every field thereby bringing laurels to the state of Assam. Be it Olympian Shiva Thapa or beauty queen Rewati Chetry, Gorkhas today are shining and leaving their indelible mark in every field they are into.

 There is no denying the fact that the latest upheavals amongst the Gorkhas are a clear indication that this race is ever ready to manifest their Gorkhalism whenever their loyalty, dedication and sacrifice are questioned within the soil of Assam. They are being incessantly driven by a popular line: kayyar hunu bhanda marnu ramro (It’s better to die than be a coward). This line ignites their heart and mind which propels them to face any kind of eventuality when their very identity is at stake.

The writer can be reached at bijoy@themileage.org

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