Nothing  Bengali  about  Darjeeling
SIR, Darjeeling has flared up again over the demand for the state of Gorkhaland. The people of the plains are quite naturally worried.
 Yet it cannot be denied that there is little that is common between a Bengali and a Gorkha. It would be useful to recall that Darjeeling originally belonged to the Lepchas and not the Gorkhas.
The Nepali-speaking people have become predominant after the conclusion of the  India-Nepal treaty in 1950.
The Communist leader, Ratan Lal Brahma&’s movement for a separate Gorkha state has lapsed in the limbo of history. Bhutan drove out the Nepali-speaking people and the refugee issue remains a festering sore for the government in Thimphu.
Today, the Gorkhas are predominant in the Hills. Their representation  in the Indian armed forces is substantial; there are regiments that bear the name of the ethnic group (Gurkha Rifles). And their prowess on the battlefield has been well-documented.
The Gorkhas of Darjeeling want a separate province , not a sovereign country. Let&’s admit this ~ we the present-day Bengalis of West Bengal are not as self-respecting and self-conscious as the Gorkhas are. Let their long-standing demand be fulfilled.   That having been said, the Terai and the Dooars cannot be part of Gorkhaland. The Gorkhas are in a minority in both places.
On a parity of reasoning, Bengalis, the majority group in Assam&’s Barak Valley, can also demand statehood for the region. The fear of being outnumbered once prompted Gopinath Bordoloi to part with Sylhet, now in Bangladesh.
In the Sixties, Barak had suffered the Assam government&’s linguistic imperialism, even the persecution of unarmed and non-violent Bengalis. If West Bengal is to be divided, then Barak Valley ought to be made a Bengali-speaking state.
Yours, etc., Sandipan Khan,
Rishra, 2 August.
MALALA’S SPIRIT
SIR, Your editorial, ‘Malala and the world’ (4 August) is excellent. On her 16th birthday, you have paid a warm tribute to the brave girl who was shot on the head by the Taliban for opposing a ban on schooling for girls in Pakistan.
 The extremists have failed to curb Malala Yousufzai&’s spirit and objective. Having battled for life, she has addressed the UN, indeed appealing to the world to promote the cause of education.
Her demand for universal primary education and free schooling  ought to be the agenda of governments the world over. You have rightly commented: “Beyond the United Nations Youth Assembly , her speech was addressed in the larger context  to the present establishment in Pakistan and the fundamentalist fringe.”
Malala&’s spirit is her most powerful weapon ~”Let us pick up our books and our pens”. In a way, this will strengthen the movements for women&’s  liberation. Thanks to  The Statesman  for the editorial.
Yours, etc., Rupam Guha,
Kolkata, 4 August.
THE COMMUNAL FACTOR
SIR, The thrust of Seema Mustafa&’s article “UP politics reeks of communalism”  (3 August) is the communal factor and not a young IAS officer&’s fight against corruption.  She is a little too concerned over the Muslims. She could have addressed her arguments to the bureaucracy in UP and elsewhere, calling for a courageous stand against the ruling politicians.
 Only at the beginning has she made a tangential reference to the sand mafia. She has even hinted at the possible resurgence of the BJP (communal forces) in the general election of 2014. The need to tackle corruption is of lesser moment in her presentation.
Yours etc. NK Das Gupta,
Kolkata, 4 August.
STARRING JAILBIRDS
SIR, The report, “Jail thespians to go on tour” was an interesting read ( 27 July). Sixty-two inmates of Alipore and Presidency Correctional Homes will visit Mumbai, Delhi and Pune to perform on stage under the direction of Ms Alakananda Ray. The team will be accompanied by an officer of the rank of DIG along with superintendents and 32 warders. In a word, murderers, rapists, those jailed for the Bowbazar blast (March 1993), and other criminals will enjoy the Pujas in October at the cost of tax payers’ money. The report doesn’t mention the amount of the funds sanctioned by the state government. Such diversions from the jail complex were introduced by the previous dispensation and are being encouraged by the present. In DL Roy&’s famous play,  Chandragupta, Alexander tells Seleukos, his general, Ki bichitra ei desh! (Truly, this is a strange land !”)
Yours, etc., Somnath Roy,
Kolkata, 2 August.