5/25/2018 1:47:48 PM
|written By : Team India Se|
“Kalimpong’s ‘Chota (Little) Pakistan’ triggers disquiet and alarm In the hills of Bengal,” reports Swarajya magazine.
The gradual settlement of Muslims in the hills has triggered alarm among the Gorkha majority. The Muslims are being deliberately allowed to settle in the hills by West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee government to change the demography and prevent the creation of Gorkhaland, claims the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. The Morcha is campaigning for the creation of a new Indian state called Gorkhaland comprising the hill districts that are now part of West Bengal.
There have been Nepali-speaking Muslims living in Kalimpong district who cannot be distinguished from the Gorkhas. But the newcomers stand out. The men wear lungis, skullcaps and have flowing beards. The women wear burkas. Most are Bengali-speaking, with accents similar to Bangladeshis, some also speak in Hindi.
There are security concerns, reports Swarajya, because Kalimpong houses vital military installations and the newcomers go around freely. They work as masons, carpenters, car mechanics, labourers and rag-pickers. Kalimpong is the headquarters of an army division deployed along the strategic border with Tibet – and next-door to Sikkim, which borders Tibet.
The Muslim influx started slowly around four years ago but has picked up pace over the past few months, reports Swarajya.
“Chota Pakistan” falls under the Bhalukhop gram panchayat of Kalimpong I block. The area had a population of around 6,000 , according to the 2011 census. But the population has doubled since then with the Muslims forming nearly 50 per cent, say locals.
Many are squatting on government land but there is no move to evict them, complain locals.
Kalimpong is in the grip of a fear psychosis, says Swarajya. Apprehensions have been raised by the large number of ‘workers’ from Islamic charities who have flocked to Kalimpong town to raise funds during the ongoing month of Ramzan. They go round the Muslim-owned establishments collecting donations. Activists and preachers from Islamist organisations like the Tablighi Jamaat, which preaches a puritanical and austere form of Islam, have been flocking to the hills in a bid to influence the local Muslims.