n Conflict Trends - Resurgent Gorkhaland : ethnic identity and autonomy

Volume 2009, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


India is a multi-ethnic country with a federal democratic polity. There are 28 states, which are multi-ethnic in nature. The state of West Bengal is predominantly ethnically Bengali; however, its famous hill station of Darjeeling is populated by the Gorkha ethnic group. Due to sheer numbers, the Bengalis effectively control the political, economic and social fabric of the state of West Bengal. This has caused much resentment among the Gorkhas, resulting in violent conflict in the mid-1980s. The agitation was led by the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), which raised the demand for the creation of a separate State of Gorkhaland, outside West Bengal but within India. The conflict was finally resolved by a tripartite agreement between the GNLF, the state government of West Bengal and the government of India in mid-1988. In order to accommodate the ethnic aspirations of the Gorkhas, the government agreed to create the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) and conceded to granting citizenship to pre-1950 settlers. The state government agreed to review all cases against GNLF activists and the GNLF, in turn, called for the surrender of all unauthorised arms and withdrew all agitation activities.

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