THE HIMALAYAN BEACON DARJEELING NEWS DESK
DARJEELING, 29 SEPTEMBER 2007: Several people were injured as a procession by fans of “Indian Idol” Prashant Tamang clashed with locals, following a dispute over passage for an ambulance near the Siliguri Sub-Divisional Hospital on Friday.
The protest was sparked off by alleged derogatory remarks made by a radio jockey in Delhi against Tamang. As thousands of locals chased the 2,000-odd people participating in the procession from Hasmi Chowk to the nearby Siliguri court compound, the spot turned into a battlefield with both sides hurling stones at each other and several vehicles being burnt down, said R J S Nawla, IG of North Bengal.
Meanwhile, Delhi’s Gorkha community has also approached I&B Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi and Home Minister Shivraj Patil to intervene. “The management of the FM channel has refused to give a written apology after the RJ’s remarks hurt the sentiments of the community,” said Dr Enos Das Pradhan, vice-president of the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh in Delhi.
Following Tamang’s victory in the “Indian Idol” contest, RJ Nitin’s casual remark the next morning that with a Gorkha’s victory all the mall owners and shopkeepers in Delhi should now be prepared to do the “chowkidaari” of their shops themselves, sparked off protests in the Darjeeling hills.
Representatives of the community say that the RJ’s remarks perpetuate the stereotype of every Gorkha being a chowkidaar or a security guard which hurt the sentiments of fans and the community.
“The Gorkha or the Indian Nepalese community came together and voted for Tamang. Everyone can put two and two together and the RJ’s comment implies that all Gorkhas are chowkidaars and sell momos on the streets of Delhi,” said Dr YK Shrestha, Delhi-based businessman who immediately called up the RJ after hearing his comment.
“I told him that his comments were offensive and asked him to apologise but he didn’t. Though he tried to clarify his remarks by saying that Prashant was a policeman and with even the cops celebrating his victory, Delhi’s security was under danger,” Shrestha added.
Kurseong and Kalimpong towns went on strike two days ago. Friday’s protest in Siliguri turned violent and led to clashes between the Nepalis and the non-Nepali groups.
“The media is generally responsible for perpetuating this image particularly in films where a chowkidaar is usually shown to be a Gorkha. We forget that Gorkhas are soldiers and that there is a regiment called the Gorkha Regiment in the Army,” said Pradhan, adding that a similar incident had taken place last year when another FM channel had defined Gorkhas as night watchmen.