“In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed.” – W. E Henley
Four years ago, I recall, some of us frantically trying to call back home. It had been over a week since phone connections to Darjeeling Hills had been surprisingly intermittent. Like scavengers, we used to look for news, any news for that matter on our few online local dailies, only to find that either local news were hardly reported, and the few that were, did not quite align with what we were told by our friends and family back home on those sporadic phone calls. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter had not yet caught people’s fancies nor attention for news dissemination then, and apps like WhatsApp were non-existent. I vividly recall ‘seeing’ as well as ‘experiencing’ perpetual bouts of anxiety and worry in all of us living afar – ‘that desperation’ just to find out what “exactly” was happening back home and to relay the same to “others” who had access to distorted news like we did.
The Darjeeling Chronicle (TheDC) thus was conceived (over numerous cups of tea)on this day – the18th of November 2013 – where we foremost began with the dissemination of local news on Facebook – news shared with us over phone calls, initially by our friends and families. Four years later, we continue to share news and issues relating to our beloved place and it’s people, although today, we operate under the active involvement, participation and contributions of numerous volunteers.
In four years since TheDC’s inception, our place and it’s people have witnessed, suffered and resiliently withstood the never-ending socio-economic and political upheavals and uncertainties under the West Bengal Government. But what has caused our Hills, it’s people and our century-old cause of Gorkhaland the most damage and hurt as always, is the inept politicians and their politics. The way our standing movement for Gorkhaland state has been subverted this time again by greedy individuals, who have put their own benefit over and above at the benefit of the masses is evident for everyone to see.
I must give the West Bengal Government due credit for creating multiple factions and fissures among those supporting Gorkhaland statehood. I respect their political astuteness. However, I rue the complete lack of ethics, morality and disunity among the Gorkhas that has time and again permitted the Bengal agenda to prevail – to quash Gorkha aspirations.
The Gorkhaland struggle of 2017 had received support from all over India, but at the same time it got attacked too from multiple fronts, and it is sad, that majority of those attacking the demand for Gorkhaland turned out to be our own Gorkhas. No, they did not outright protest against the demand for Gorkhaland, but they created and propagated enough malice against those leading the movement that the general masses became disillusioned with the leadership. Bengal’s game plan was to thrust into someone of their own, to take advantage of the prevailing situation of confusion and chaos.
Did they succeed? I am not sure.
But it did weaken the Gorkhaland demand once again.
While arrests and raids, accompanied by vandalism continue across the region, we have been forced to remain quiet. Cases have been slapped against TheDC Facebook page seeking its shut down, and the cases are currently sub-judice in the Calcutta HC.
However, we refuse to be cowered down. We will continue to report the truth, and we will continue to become the platform that “voices” the Gorkhaland cause and the cause of our people. And today on our 5th foundation day, I am thrilled to announce that we have launched our News Website – www.thedarjeelingchronicle.com
We are hopeful that you will continue to extend the same love and support to the site that you have extended to our page.
Our journey with TheDC has not been without the ups and downs of its own, particularly in terms of what we report. We can withstand the administrative and political pressures, however, what we find amusing is the labelling we have to endure. Some call us “Patlebas Chronicle”, some “Mamata Chronicle”, some even “BJP Chronicle”. Some accuse us of having “taken money” to write news. It might seem uncanny to them, but the fact is that TheDC team – which is comprised of volunteers from across Darjeeling, India and the world; has never taken a single paisa from anyone ever, and we will never do so. We have been questioned and critiqued on our way/style of reporting. Therefore, today, I want to reiterate again that we proudly support Gorkhaland statehood demand and our epistemological beliefs, views, ways of reporting all arise and reaffirm the same.
Today as we complete four years of our journey, and enter the fifth we thank all of you for the incredible support, love, care, concerns, suggestions, criticisms and above all trust that have helped us to grow and strengthen. We take this opportunity to apologize to all our readers, who may have been antagonized with us for one reason or the other, please do know that we take all of your comments and criticisms very seriously and they help us to grow.
We thank all our volunteers, contributors and partner organizations, VOS, ILS, MKSF, TDT, ST and Darjeeling Times without whose help we would not be here today. We look forward to your continued support.
None of this would have been possible without our very core team members. A heartfelt thank you and congratulation to the entire The DC team.