Darjeeling’s BJP MP Raju Bista has requested Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to intervene in the proposed recruitment of non-Gorkhas in the Gorkha Regiment.

Mr Bista wrote to Mr Singh on 11 November, immediately after the media reported the matter and a representation from the Gorkha Rashtriya Nirman Manch was served.

In his letter, Mr Bista, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of Privileges, has pointed out that such recruitment of non-Gorkhas will dilute the purpose of the Regiment and that it can have serious negative impact on the morale of the serving Gorkha soldiers, as well as among the retired and future soldiers of the Gorkha regiment, who, he said, are perceiving this as a deliberate malice against the Indian Gorkha community.

“I represent Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency, which holds the distinction of having a proud and brave military history. Currently, Darjeeling District is home to the largest number of serving and retired Gorkha soldiers, testifying to the fact that the Gorkhas from our region have continued to actively serve our motherland by joining the army,” Mr Bista said, adding, “However, in the past few years, the recruitment, which used to be done through the Gorkha Recruiting Depot at Jalapahar (in Darjeeling) at least once a month, has come down drastically to sporadic recruiting events held once or twice a year. Given the lack of recruitment rally, a majority of able youths do not get to serve in the Army, and to cite ‘lack of youths available for recruitment’ as an excuse to recruit non-Gorkhas in the Gorkha regiment is merely adding salt to the injury.” Mr Bista, who is a member of the Standing Committee on Labour, has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the Gorkha youths who face problems in joining the Army due to the ever increasing percentage requirement in the qualifying class 10 exams. He has forwarded a copy of the letter to the Home Minister.

“Most Gorkha youths from Darjeeling and Kalimpong hills come from remote mountain villages, and do not have access to quality education due to a lack of adequate infrastructure or qualified teachers. Because of this, they do not score high percentage in their qualifying class 10 exams. This then renders them unqualified or under-qualified for recruitment into the Army as they are unable to score 45 percent overall and 33 percent in each subject,” Mr Bista, who is also a member of the Tea Board, claimed, following a representation from the Gorkha National Ex-servicemen’s Organisation.

“Given the glorious history of Gorkha soldiers in serving our motherland, I am requesting you to kindly consider pass in Class 10 Board Exams as the educational requirement for the Gorkha youths, instead of requiring specific percentage of marks scored in each subject,” Mr Bista wrote to Mr Modi.