Gorkha organisations have slammed the All-India Women Conference (AIWC) for rejecting the community’s programme for an ‘Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav’ event after labelling ‘Nepali’ a “non-Indian” language.
AIWC executive member Chandra Prabha Pandey on June 9 sent out a note seeking contributions from its regional chapters for the proposed ‘Azadi’ celebrations. The requirement was patriotic songs and dances performed in regional languages.
But when artists from West Bengal’s Kalimpong district sent in their contributions, Ms. Pandey allegedly told them that the AIWC could not showcase performances in ‘non-Indian languages’.
AIWC’s Kalimpong secretary Aruna Pradhan tried to reason with Ms. Pandey but the latter insisted that the national anthem in “Nepali, not a language from India” was unacceptable. Ms. Pandey also indicated that the Gorkhas were migrants and thus not eligible for performing at an event for Indians.
“By claiming that Nepali is not an Indian language, and not allowing performances in Nepali language, that too for ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations, the AIWC has shown deliberate racism against the Gorkha community of our nation,” Darjeeling MP Raju Bista said.
“Perhaps, the AIWC members are unaware that our Gorkha ancestors have played a vital role in ensuring India’s independence,” he added.
“It is shocking that an esteemed organisation like the AIWC has members who seem to be absolutely ignorant that Nepali/Gorkha is spoken by the 10.5 million Indian Gorkhas, duly recognised as an Indian language under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India,” Ramesh Bastola, the general secretary of the Bharatiya Gorkha Yuva Parisangh, said.
In an emergent meeting of its core committee held virtually on June 15, the Parisangh decided to take up the issue legally if Ms. Pandey did apologise in the public domain within 24 hours of publication of its statement and in person in the next AIWC meeting.
“Our team will also parallelly file online petition so that this incident doesn’t happen again. We had taken up matter of an Amazon Prime Video web series where a Nepali language-speaking Gorkha character was shown in a poor light and derogatory remarks were made for the community in the northeast,” Mr. Bastola said.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had later issued a guideline based on the Parisang’s objection for censoring contents on OTT platforms.
The Parisangh said many people had a misconception that the Gorkhas in India are foreigners and have migrated from Nepal. “The Gorkhas, a product of Indo-Aryan and Mongoloid assimilation, are aborigines of India and they can trace their history back to not less than 1,000 years in Assam and elsewhere in India,” it said.