AIWC tenders unconditional Apology to the Gorkhas

Guwahati: The Gorkha community across India is outraged after an attack by All India Women Conference (AIWC) executive member Chandra Prabha Pandey on Gorkha artists, banning any performance in Nepali language for an event under ‘Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav’ – while calling  ‘Nepali’ or the ‘Gorkha Bhasa’ a non-Indian language.

Last week, AIWC executive member and the head of events Chandra Prabha Pandey sent out a note asking for contributions from regional chapters of AIWC for the proposed ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations. The contributions were expected in the form of patriotic songs and dances in regional languages.

However, when artists from Kalimpong district sent in their contribution, they were allegedly told off my Pandey, who reportedly told the artists, “We cannot showcase performances in non-Indian languages”.

The artists then reached out to Aruna Pradhan, AIWC’s Kalimpong secretary, who tried to reason with Pandey. To this, Pandey allegedly told Pradhan that “they cannot send National Anthem sung in Nepali language, as it is not a language from India”.

Despite being reminded by many that Nepali is very much an Indian language, Pandey allegedly went on demeaning Nepali/Gorkha Bhasa as non-Indian language. A fierce debate with Pradhan was witnessed over a teleconference, in which Pandey went on to say that “people from neighbouring countries who come and settle here in India are migrants and not citizens of our country”.

Reacting to the incident, Ramesh Bastola, general secretary of the youth wing of Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP), said, ‘It is shocking to realise that an esteemed reputed organization like AIWC would have members who seem to be absolutely ignorant about the fact that Nepali language/Gorkha Bhasa is one of the national languages of India and spoken by the 10.5 million Indian Gorkha community, duly recognised as such under the VIIIth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.”

Now, the Bharatiya Gorkha Yuva Parisangh (BhaGoYuP) has decided to take up the issue legally if Pandey doesn’t apologise through social media within a day.

Sanjana Newar, member of legal team of BhaGoYuP and a Guwahati-based advocate, ‘I am absolutely outraged and shocked at the lack of knowledge and obvious display of ignorance on the part of All India Women’s Conference (AIWC) member Chandra Prabha Pandey, who rejected a performance in Nepali language in her organization’s ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations citing that ‘Nepali is a non-Indian language’. Yuva Parisangh has decided to file a legal suit in this matter and I will represent the case.”

Darjeeling MP Raju Bista, who represents Gorkha-populated Darjeeling constituency in Lok Sabha, told EastMojo, “By claiming that Nepali is not an Indian language, and not allowing a performance in Nepali language, that too on the pious occasion of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations, AIWC has shown deliberate racism against the Gorkha community of our nation.”

The MP has now sent a letter to the President of AIWC seeking an unconditional apology as well as the Executive Member’s removal from her position and office immediately.

Meanwhile, Aruna Pradhan, the honorary secretary of the Kalimpong branch of AIWC told EastMojo that Pandey should issue an unconditional apology to the Indian Gorkha community since it doesn’t reflect the views of the organisation.

The said event stands cancelled after the matter reached office bearers of AIWC, Pradhan said.

“Pandey did not agree to my request for apology and she blocked me from WhatsApp and social media. So the matter had to be brought in the public domain. I am glad to learn that Bharatiya Gorkha Yuva Parisangh is taking up the matter legally and shall file an online petition so that no such instances don’t happen again,” said Pradhan.

Namrata Sharma, a development agency manager from Bihar who recently filed an online petition in the case of Indigo Airlines’ ill treatment of a specially-abled child, told this correspondent that AIWC must issue a statement in this regard and clarify organisation’s stand on the matter. “If Pandey denies to apologize in public domain, then she should be removed from the prestigious organisation with a pressnote. Such action will definitely act as deterrent for future so that such incidents never occur again. Gorkhas have been on the receiving end on many occasions, mostly over identity or racial issues and it’s high time we set deterrent examples.”

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