1 Lakh Gorkhas Out of NRC? Gorkhas in Darjeeling Are On Edge
Gorkhas are concerned that most tea garden workers do not have valid documents that establish their residency.
Soon after the final NRC in Assam was announced on 31 August, unconfirmed reports surfaced claiming that over 1 lakh Gorkhas were excluded from the list. These reports, coupled with the BJP’s constant push for a NRC-like exercise in West Bengal, has got the Gorkha-dominated hills of Darjeeling talking about the NRC.
The Quint reached out to some members of the Gorkha community in Darjeeling to understand how they are reacting to these reports.
Many people expressed concern for tea garden workers who do not have valid documents or papers that establish their residency. Others also felt that this exclusion, if true, was an insult to the Gorkha community which has made immense contributions to Indian society.
However, not everyone was opposed to the NRC. Some believed that given Darjeeling’s geographic location, it is very prone to unchecked immigration and an NRC-like exercise was thus required.
Mamata Expresses Shock
Earlier, the reports of exclusion were picked up by the Trinamool Congress with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeting that she was not aware of the “full NRC fiasco”, till she found out that 1 lakh Gorkhas were excluded.
This number has not been confirmed by the NRC authorities yet.
Binay Tamang – leader of one faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Darjeeling – said that a high-level delegation of the party will visit Assam. He also demanded that Gorkhas be added to the Protected List and accorded the status of original inhabitants.
Responding to this, the BJP MP from the Darjeeling seat, Raju Bista, called the reports nothing more than ‘rumours’. In a statement, he said:
“All this talk about over 1 lakh Gorkhas being left out of NRC roll is a rumour and has no basis in facts. This figure is pure speculation on the part of a few individuals and the final figures of how many have been left out, etc, will only be determined after a few days when we have official figures in hand. As you all may recall, earlier this year, during his Kalimpong speech, Home Minister Amit Shahji had assured the Gorkha community that we have nothing to worry about and that Gorkhas will be protected at all costs.”
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