Apolitical outfit Joint Action Council (JAC) has said an FIR against it for involving children in Wednesday’s celebration of Sikkim Unity Festival in Gangtok has scared its members and blamed certain wings of the government for it.
At a news meet in Gangtok on Tuesday, JAC president Shanta Pradhan said the event was not a political rally but organised by its youth council to celebrate unity among Sikkimese Nepalis, Bhutias and Lepchas. “We are hearing an FIR has been lodged against the JAC, accusing us of using children as a shield by taking them out in a rally. It was not a rally. The entire Sikkimese youth, children and the old were out to celebrate our unity on their own in traditional attire...,” he said.
The FIR against the JAC was lodged by the Sikkim Commission for Protection of Child Rights. In her complaint, Roma Tamang, the chairperson of the child rights panel, cited video clips on social media and said children were made to participate in the rallies and used as shields by organisers.
Based on the FIR, police filed a case under relevant sections of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and the Indian Penal Code amounting to abuse of children, among others.
Pradhan said the FIR made the Sikkimese fearful. “They are feeling terrorised. We are hearing the family members of those associated with JAC are being transferred,” he alleged, while stating certain wings of the government were out to defame the outfit.
The JAC was formed in the wake of the January 13 Supreme Court verdict wherein references were made, and later deleted, that labelled Sikkmese Nepalis as being of foreign origin, and a directive issued to amend the term Sikkimese defined in the Income Tax Act, 1961 by including Indian origin old settlers.
SDF leader injured
Tashi Gyatso Bhutia, a leader of the SDF, the main Opposition party, suffered head injuries after being assaulted by unidentified persons near party headquarters in Gangtok on Saturday evening.
Bhutia, the general secretary in-charge of SDF’s western Sikkim unit, had to be hospitalised. SDF spokesperson J.B. Darnal blamed ruling party SKM for the assault. His party would file an FIR on Sunday, Darnal added.