DARJEELING, June 12: The Nepali-speaking community in Darjeeling has been on the warpath over the West Bengal government's decision to include the Bengali language as a compulsory text in the school curriculum.
A majority of Nepali-speaking people have been hitting the streets for last three days in Kurseong, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Mirik, demanding withdrawal of the government's decision to include the Bengali langue in the school curriculum.
The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) which has been leading the agitation has announced a bandh on every Monday as part of their protest.
According to joint general secretary of GJM, Binaya Tamang, they staged a torch rally on Monday evening.
"Today's program to shut down government offices was fully successful. We also organized a torch rally in the evening," said Tamang. However, the local media have reported that the program to shut down government offices remained partially successful with some sporadic incidents.
Currently, Nepali, Hindi and English languages are being taught as compulsory texts in schools in the hilly regions of West Bengal.
According to West Bengal's Education Minister, one of the three languages - English, Nepali and Hindi - will be removed from the schools' curriculum after Bengali is included.
There is no possibility of teaching four languages in schools under the three-language formula. Nepali-speaking people are speculating that Nepali language may be removed if Bengali is included as a text book in schools which will incur injustice to the Nepali Diaspora.
GJM, the only custodian of Nepali language in Darjeeling, is not in good terms with the West Bengal government after Mamata Benarjee took charge as chief minister of the Indian State of West Bengal.
GJM has accused Chief Minister Benarjee of blatantly attacking the Nepali language to intentionally weaken the Gorkhaland Movement.
"Chief Minister Benarjee has been playing a role to politically attack the Nepali language in order to foil the Gorkhaland Movement," GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri told Republica. "Bengali is an optional subject. Our demand is that Bengali should remain as an optional subject in schools in the region where Nepali-speaking people have a majority."
The Indian government had given recognition to the Nepali language on August 20, 1992.
Of the total 22 government languages in India, Nepali language is in the eight position.
It is estimated that there are around 40 million Nepali-speaking people in India - one million in the proposed Gorkhaland alone.