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On June 8th an indefinite strike broke out in the hills of Darjeeling in north east India due to an announcement of the West Bengal cheif minister. Following the states election earlier in the summer the new cheif minister stated that Bengali is to be tought as a compulsory language in schools all over the state - including the Nepali speaking district of Darjeeling. This has caused the hill partys of Darjeeling to raise the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.
The people of Darjeeling are struggeling to source food and are suffering tremendously because of the unrest in the area and the effects it has had on local trasport and distribution of goods. A local community and news channel based in hill town Mirik is now working hard to help out the most vulnerable in the district by bringing them food. Please continue reading about the situation below and proceed to contribute with what you can - every penny counts! I also ask of you to inncurrage your national news channels to bring attention to the current situation.
Since the strike was announced the violence has picked up and so far six protestors has been shot to death by the West Bengal police and more than 100 people has been injured. As an atempt to stop any money coming out of the region reaching the state government, all ATMs in the district has also been shut down. Darjeelings agricultural industry, including the world known tea industry, is a big contibutor to the West Bengal economy but with Darjeeling being one of the most underdeveloped areas in the state the locals feel they are forced to give without getting anything in return from the West Bengal government. On top of this all schools, shops and restaurants, excluding pharmacies, are kept closed and since June 17th a ban has been put on the internet for the Darjeeling district making it more difficult for the residents of Darjeeling to spread information about the situation to the rest of the country and the world.
An underlying reason for the agitation is also the ongoing racism towards the Nepali speaking population. Many gorkhas (indians with Nepali language and culture) share stories of discrimination from working officialls all over the country. This is a wide spread issue in India and the people from Darjeeling sadly share this experience with the rest of the north eastern population on India. The difference however is that since they are a minority in a mostly bengali state they have to face this discrimination from their very own state government and the non gorkha officials working under it.
In the 1980s violent protests for a separate state for the Nepali speaking minority of West Bengal was seen and over 1200 people were killed. It is difficult for anyone to say for how long the protests will go on this time and what will be the result however the leader of the party which initiated the strike has stated that they will fight to the finish for a liberated Gorkhaland.
Read more about the Darjeeling strike:
- Signe Andersson
- Campaign Owner
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