It's heartening to read that wind of change is sweeping our hills after 20yrs once more. Now it is to be seen whether it brings those sweet air of spring of chill of winter, I’m so eager to witness the unfolding events, thanks to mass media I’m assured of information.
I’ve seen the first so called revolution for Gorkhaland as a young boy, I still have clear memory, without TV footing, news papers, etc, information used to come via word of mouth, we didn’t have mobile phone, few house had fix line phone, and in spite of it all people were aware and kept posted with village level meeting, pamphlet........ there was so much energy in hills people, had there been google earth, Darjeeling hills could have radiated bright light with fierce people's face, old and young were involved, even for the first time, women were organised under women cell.
I still remember, people rolling towards Kalimpong town in thousands, if not lakh, singing slogan shouting at that time it seemed like a big picnic for young boys like me, then came the harsh reality like 27th July, where many helpless Gorkhas were shot at Kalimpong town, it followed with 40 days strike, maybe I was in class 5, was very pleased as my school was closed and I was back home from boarding school, but that was short lived, as we started living under prays, as CRPF constantly raided house, young men started disappearing, women were raped…house looted, they didn’t even spare a expecting mother at ‘Topkhanna’.
My grown up brothers used to sleep in jungles, only women folks were left behind at home, we children used to count the number of big bang going at night and those gun shots fired, we used to poke our head out of the window whenever big police/CRPF truck roared. we were constantly living in fear, during day time, curfew used to be relaxed for few hours, that was the time when young boys like my self were asked to go to town and fetch supply, I used to travel on foot collect rice, oil, few essentials and back home within one hr covering 10 km both ways.
I guess everybody must have heard this kind of stories thousand times, especially those born post ‘Andolan’, because old stories die hard in hills. Later school was reopened, I was back to boarding, half of our school hostel was turned into fortified bunkers for paramilitary forces, we had no games, had to go to class in lines, we had headcount after each class, life changed completely, we were bundled into bed by 5 pm, head boys used to tell stories in pitch dark as we were not allowed to switch on the light, that’s when I heard story from 'gone with the wind'.
One day my parents came to visit me, I came to know my elder brother was studying in ninth standard was picked up from classroom by Chatra Subba men, In fact, almost whole class was taken away. At that time, I didn't understand the repercussion of my moms tears, today when I look back, my brother's future was cut short, he was a brilliant student, never stood second in class, in fact, every year first or second place were reserved for my brother, he was my idol, inspiration at that time, thanks to lord, my other brother was sick that day, he was spared. We didn't hear from my brother for six month, agitation was at pick, as always we were confined at hostel, but the CRPF camp was shifted from hostel, now we could move little freely, one day I was just looking down the veranda where hundreds of GVC men were walking in column, one of the boy in camouflage outfit with gun slinging at the back broke the line and walked towards us, as he came near I could see a familiar face with fresh mustache smiling wide....it was my brother, we hugged, he gave me pocketful of sweets, somebody shouted at him, he ran back and joined the column. I informed home about the meeting, they were already aware about his whereabouts, then came our winter vacation, we had to walk home there was 13 days strike in progress, at home I became aware that there was a rift behind GVC and GNLF, they were killing each other, and my brother was with GVC, my mother used to cry 24hours a day, there always a thick air at home, we hardly had food without tears, one day after six month or so my brother came home, he was thin and tired, he could sleep whole day, by then it was clear GNLF had a upper hand, Chatra Subba was loosing ground, GNLF men was all around town. One morning, after a week of my brother's return, I woke up hearing shouts and cries. There were hundred men all over our house, carrying guns, khukri, and shouting in aversive language, realised they wanted him....my brother. When I saw the mob, they were all known people...next door uncle, dajus, mammas.....all familiar faces. But my brother was a good sports man, he had already ran ...... and about an hour later we heard the gun shot. It was confirmed it was him, he was badly wounded, we saw in horror he was dragged into a jeep along with his friends, in fact, his classmate. They were taken away, my mother mobilised all the woman from our village and started searching for them, thankfully my mom came across late Mr. C.K. Pradhan, who happened to know her well.....he acted quickly, with a concrete information tracked my brother and his friends at Samsay forest, where they were tired to a tree, waiting for death. Later he narrated the story....it was chilling they had already said their last prays, had Mr. Pradhan not been there, they would not have been here to tell the tale. Unfortunately, many of my brothers friends / classmate, were not so lucky, they never came back home. I still recall one name "Tekbir Rai", he was one of my brothers’ best friend, he just disappeared, we were not allowed to talk about him for years, my brother came back home from hospital after a week but life never became the same, he was still traumatised, couldn't study further, I guess, a bright future was curtailed in the buds.
I’m not sure how many families have the same story too? I haven't met Tegbahadur Daju's family for ages.....whether those wounds have healed or not.
Are we ready for next Revolution/Andolan? Are we ready once again for killing brothers by brothers, isn’t it a duty of older generation to make young people born after Andolan, making them aware of pros and cons, why don't we fix responsibility on someone for those mindless killing, and atrocities committed?
We should not let those same leaders lead us in the same path as done 20yrs back. Some of those leaders should be first held responsible, investigation should be lodged for each missing person, why is this not possible, when pot poland kemrua rouge, pinuchet can be put on trial after decades of human right violation, why not our leaders?
My request young readers, please please don't run, face those old blocs - head on, don't let them take you for ride, they did that with my generation, ask for your right, a bright future where education is a premier importance, young people you are luck to have net, mobile and instant information, use it to curtail the ill connive plan to drag you down the stone age once again. Instead use your knowledge to hold those leaders responsible for doing all the wrong they have done to our beloved Darjeeling, thanks till next time
It touched me... I can visualize how true it was... (Udhyan – darjeelingTimes.com)