Open Letter to the Honourable Chief Minister of Bengal, Sushree Mamata Banerjee
I am writing this letter to you in an entirely personal capacity. As a Kolkata-born Bengali teaching here in the Darjeeling hills and as a non-Gorkhali person, I feel extremely ashamed today. I feel ashamed because you are forcing one of the most peace-loving communities in India, the Gorkhas, into accepting a language (Bengali) which is not theirs. Not only that, you are trying to even curb their constitutionally guaranteed right to democratically protest against such an imposition.
Why would you wish to do so? People of the Darjeeling hills have had no hatred towards the Bengali people or the Bengali language! All that they have ever wanted to do is safeguard their own language and forms of culture. Language is the backbone of any culture and by imposing Bengali upon the Nepali-speaking people of the Darjeeling Hills you are attempting a form of cultural imperialism through linguistic imperialism. That is why I feel ashamed today, as a Bengali. Never in my two plus years of teaching career in this area have I ever been made to feel that I am an outsider, a Bengali, an ethnic other. The people had their genuine grudges against the Bengal state’s high-handedness, but never did they single me out to articulate these grudges. They have never ever been communal in the least! I cannot sadly say the same about Kolkata, where not just Nepali speaking people, but people from the North-East are made targets of systemic racism.
So today, when your district administration terms peaceful democratic forms of protest against the imposition of Bengali as a “communal issue”, when your administration issues arrest warrants against some of the most respected litterateurs of Darjeeling, I can only hang my head in shame! I can only feel deeply ashamed that I have not been able to do more for the people who have accepted me with such open-hearted warmth! I feel ashamed because the government which is supposed to represent me is dishing out such forms of violence (linguistic and otherwise) upon their ethnic others, the Nepali speaking people of the Darjeeling hills.
I can no longer stay a mute observer! And I can only end this letter by saluting the spirit of all the Gorkhali people who are fighting today, to safeguard their language, their cultures, their land!
I sincerely hope that good sense prevails upon your excellency!
Dept. Of English,
Sonada Degree College,