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Call for another bandh in Sikkim

Both SDF-sponsored bandh and proposed JAC bandh are in protest against SC judgment of calling Sikkimese Nepalis of 'foreign origin'
Shattered windowpanes of an SDF leader’s house at Namchi
Shattered windowpanes of an SDF leader’s house at Namchi

Rajeev Ravidas   |   Gangtok   |   Published 06.02.23, 04:49 AM

 Fresh incidents of violence marred the second day of the 48-hour Sikkim bandh called by the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) on Sunday even as the apolitical Joint Action Committee (JAC) called for another bandh on Wednesday.

Both the SDF-sponsored bandh and the proposed JAC bandh are in protest against the recent Supreme Court judgment  in which Sikkimese Nepalis were described as those of “foreign origin”.

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Most of the incidents of violence that occurred on the first day of the bandh on Saturday were directed against the SDF, but on Sunday, even JAC, which was formed in the wake of the court verdict, was the target of attack.  

While the houses of SDF leaders were pelted with stones at Namchi in south Sikkim, participants in a JAC rally at Melli, also in south Sikkim, were assaulted, injuring at least two persons. The Jorethang office of the SDF was pelted with stones.

Namchi police said two cases had been registered in connection with the incidents and some more cases were likely to be registered in other incidents that had taken place in the district on Sunday. Jorethang also falls under Namchi district.

P.D. Rai, a senior vice-president of the SDF, accused the Sikkim chief minister and the president of the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), P. S. Tamang (Golay), of instigating the violence by his “provocative speech” at a party event in Namchi on Saturday where he had said he would henceforth be less of a chief minister and function more like the party chief and take to the streets against the SDF.

“This is unbecoming of a chief minister. I have never witnessed this level of lawlessness in my living memory,” said Rai, who is a two-time Lok Sabha member and one who had participated in the referendum that led to the merger of Sikkim with India in 1975.

Asked about his party’s next course of action, the SDF leader said the SDF was determined to right the wrong done against the people of Sikkim whatever it takes.

The ruling SKM said it had no role to play in the incidents of violence, and extended support to the bandh called by the JAC on Wednesday.

Jacob Khaling, political secretary to the chief minister and SKM spokesman, said: “To safeguard the rights, benefits, existence and the identity of the people of Sikkim, we will walk shoulder-to-shoulder with them,” he said.

On a day of fast developments, the state government constituted a committee to look at the demand for the applicability of Inner-Line Permit in Sikkim, which has been a consistent demand of BhaichungBhutia-headed Hamro SikkimParty (HSP) and many others.

Chief minister Golay flew to Delhi and met Union law minister Kiran Rijiju, who is also understood to lend the Centre’s support to the sense of hurt felt by the Sikkimese Nepalis by the observation of the Supreme Court and file a review petition on its own. 

BJP leaders of Sikkim headed by the newly-appointed president D. R. Thapa were also scheduled to meet Union home minister Amit Shah on Sunday.



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