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Bimal Gurung announces use of Nepali as official language in GTA

EOI
Darjeeling : Gorkhaland Territorial Administration chief executive Bimal Gurung announced Nepali would be the official language used in the council henceforth. Speaking on the occasion of the 22nd Bhasha Diwas organised by the youth wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, Gurung said, “We have started using the Nepali language in all official correspondence of the GTA beginning today. To give the decision further impetus, we have written to the chief minister’s office in Nepali along with English translations some of our official correspondence.” The Nepali language was incorporated into the Eight Schedule of the Constitution on August 20, 1992. The ‘bhasha’ agitation had started in 1934 and picked up pace in the 1980s under the efforts of Sikkim’s former chief minister Nar Bahadur Bhandari, his wife Dil Kumari Bhandari, who was an MP then, and renowned historian and litterateur, the Late Dr Kumar Pradhan, among others. 

The GTA chief further said, “We will even write to the President in Nepali if the need arises. Nepali is a constitutionally recognised language and we must make the most use of it.” He however, emphasised that only a separate state would erase the identity crisis of the Indian Gorkhas. “Nepali ‘bhasha’ is our identity, but for our further safety in the country, we must achieve a separate state,” noted Gurung. He said the need to further promote the Nepali language was triggered by the state government’s decision to form respective development boards for various communities living in the hills. “We have had positive talks with the Centre. The divisive policy of the state government will soon be a closed chapter as we have taken up the issue of granting tribal status to 11 communities of the hills,” said the GJM president. The state government has already formed the Lepcha Development Board and the Tamang Cultural and Development Board, both outside the purview of the GTA, in spite of strong opposition by the GJM. 

Further, just ahead of the Lok Sabha election earlier this year, the Mamata Banerjee government also recommended granting tribal status to 10 hill communities, but the proposal has been withdrawn by the tribal affairs department, as per the Registrar General of India in response to a RTI query. Meanwhile, the GTA has floated tenders worth Rs 23 crore for establishing a Nepali Academy near Dali in Darjeeling. “Construction work of the Nepali Academy will start soon. The GTA will also ensure the uplift and promotion of Nepali culture and traditions,” said Gurung. The Gorkha Janmukti Yuwa Morcha also used the occasion to felicitate prominent writer, critic and Sahitya Academy awardee Indra Bahadur Rai and former chief minister Bhandari along with other well-known literary figures of the region. 

The youth wing of the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist lauded the GTA initiative to use Nepali as its official language. “Nepali was not recognised by the Gorkha National Liberation Front during its tenure. GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh vehemently opposed the ‘Bhasha Andolan’. We appreciate the GJM and the GTA for making Nepali the official language,” said Democratic Revolutionary Youth Front general secretary Arun Ghatani. The CPRM’s youth wing also submitted a memorandum to the district administration demanding the use of Nepali in official works in Darjeeling district and also in Jalpaiguri district, especially in places that have predominant Gorkha populations.

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