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Last modified: 2010-02-27 by ian macdonald
Keywords: gorkhaland | gurkha | nepal | india | sword | knife | kurkuri |
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Gorkha National Liberation Front

[Gorkha National Liberation Front] image by Roman Kogovsek, 9 July 2005

Gorkhas are ethnic Nepalis who invaded what is now the Darjeeling district in 1780. Until then, the area had been ruled by the kings of Sikkim. After Indian independence, the Gorkhas became the main political force in Darjeeling and friction with the West Bengal government led to calls for a separate state of Gorkhaland. One of the main problems is that West Bengalis refuse to recognize the Nepali language as one of the state's official languages. After 1986 riots, there was established a Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (it has no official symbols).

There are several Gorkhas parties and organizations fighting for secession from West Bengal. Main party is Gorkha National Liberation Front.

This flag represents the only major Gorkha political party, but not the whole nation. It is dark green with an image of a Kurkuri knife and three four-pointed stars in  yellow. Lower third is banded in four equal yellow stripes.
Roman Kogovsek, 9 July 2005

Alternative Design

[Alternative Gurkhaland flag] image by Ivan Sache

In Flags of Aspirant Peoples, marked as Ghurkaland (Gurkhas) - Nepal: Green field with four thin yellow stripes in the upper part. At hoist, three yellow stars placed in a triangle pointing downward, at fly a yellow "dagger".
Ivan Sache, 16 Sep 1999

Here is an update about Gorkhaland and the flag of the Gorkha National Liberation Front.
"The Telegraph" (Calcutta), 5 May 2006, has an article about Gorkhaland. The flag of the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) was designed 26 years ago by Amar Lama. It showed "Gorkhaland set against a green background". The wording is not clear enough to understand how the flag really looked. I guess that either the name or the map of Gorkhaland appeared on the flag. A few months later, member of GNLF Subash Ghisingh decided to change the flag. "What followed was four stripes, three stars and a khukri against a green background". This confirms the design reported by Roman Kogovsek. The "alternative design" shown on the Flags of Aspirant Peoples Chart also fit the description, but Kogovsek reports a flag he has seen locally. It may be that my report about the Chart that mentions "Nepal" is wrong since GNLF operates in India. Ghising led armed agitation for Gorkhaland statehood for the next 28 months. Twenty-five years later, the situation has changed, and the demand for statehood is now replaced by the Sixth Schedule status, supported by Ghising. The Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council would be replaced by the Gorkha Hill Council, made of 33 members with 10 seats reserved for the Scheduled Tribes. Problems, however, may arise since not all hill communities will be recognized as tribes. The Schedules Castes may lost the benefits do to them without being granted the tribal status. They are supported by the Opposition People's Democratic Front (OPDF), the anti-GNLF coalition. The OPDF says that there must be seat reservation for the Scheduled Castes, too.
Ivan Sache, 6 May 2006

All India Gorkha League

[Gorkha National Liberation Front] image by Roman Kogovsek, 9 July 2005

This is the oldest Gorkha political organization, but is not very influential. I have seen their flag in their office in Darjeeling. It consists of two equal horizontal stripes. The upper is light green and has an image of a white lotus; the lower is red with two crossed traditional Gorkha knives, called Kurkuri.
Roman Kogovsek, 9 July 2005

Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (Gorkha People's Liberation Front)

[Gorkha People's Liberation Front] image provided by Chrystian Kretowicz, 27 June 2008

Subhas Ghising is no longer synonymous with Gorkhaland. Two decades ago he and his Gorkha National Liberation Front began the struggle for their own state in the Darjeeling area, only abandoning it after the deal was struck with the West Bengal and Indian governments creating slightly autonomous Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council of which Ghising became a chairman. (Resigned in March 2008 as being irrelevant). Ghising's flag is no longer predominant in Gorkhaland, since from October 2007 a new movement - Gorkha Janamukti Morcha - gained support of the vast majority of West Bengal Gorkhas. It is led by the former lieutenant of Ghising, Bimal Gurung, who is demanding nothing less then a full statethood within India for Gorkhaland (three districts of West Bengal around Darjeeling). GJM has a backing of, influential there, Communist Party of India-Revolutionary Marxist against the government of West Bengal (run by the Communist Party of India-Marxists) which is vehemently opposed to the idea of statehood for Gorkhaland. The Indian government also opposes that idea as the precedent could open the floodgates of the demands for dozens of other ethnic autonomous states in otherwise centralized country. The most recent surge in demands for statehood is attributed to the insulting comments on Indian national television addressed at the Gorkha, who won the "Idol" type of the singing competition - Prachanda Tawang. To many Gorkhas it was the last straw which pushed them to strongly demand self-rule in their homeland. 

The flag of Gorkha Janamukti Morcha, widely waved across Gorkhaland, is:
Green at the top engraved at the left with Sun. White at the middle engraved at the left with Himalaya & Golden Yellow at the bottom engraved at the left with two crossed Khukuries, all three strips running parallel and equal in size. 

Symbolic meaning and significance of the flag:
The green at the top symbolize the prosperity with knowledge of brightness. The white symbolizes peace and purity as Himalaya, and the golden yellow symbolizes the spirituality and pride of Khukuri."

The flag submitted here is with the Latin script. Most flags visible on the multitude of photograph on the web are inscribed with the name of the party in the Nepali script, and some without any writing on them, as described above. The last ones, I presume, could be proposed flags for the (would-be or not) State of Gorkhaland.

Some relevant sites (out of many) are at:

Chrystian Kretowicz, 27 June 2008