SILIGIRI: While the Gorkhaland agitation has been fierce, there has been little discussion beyond the hills what kind of a state it would be - should it be carved out of West Bengal. Spread over 7,500 sq km, the proposed Gorkhaland state would be bigger than Goa and Sikkim while its population of four million would match the demographics of Tripura and Manipur.
However, like the Bodos who want a Bodoland state, the Gorkhas are not a majority in what is purported to be Gorkhaland. Though the Gorkhas constitute more than 90 per cent of the population in the Darjeeling and Kalimpong hill areas, they are some 15-20 per cent in the Dooars and Terai regions in Siliguri subdivision and Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts.
"Gorkhas constitute only some 35 per cent of the total population of the proposed Gorkhaland state. Adivasis constitute some 20 per cent and Rajbongshis make up around 25 per cent. Bengalis are 15 per cent while the remaining 5 percent are Totos, Mechs and Biharis," said political analyst Upendra Pradhan.
According to the 2011 Census, there are around 10 lakh Nepali speakers in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts combined and another 4 lakh in the Dooars area.
Gorkha leaders have time and again reiterated that non-Gorkhas would be equal in the proposed state. "We would all be equal in the new state and everyone will get equal opportunities," Jan Andolan Party chief Harka Bahadur Chhetri has said.
"There have always been marital ties between Gorkhas, Adivasis, Rajbongshis and native Bengalis. We don't differentiate between communities. They speak our language as fluently as we speak theirs," Pradhan added.