SIKKIM BHUTIA LEPCHA APEX COMMITTEE (SIBLAC)
Our organization condemns the recent attempt of Gorkha National Congress and few other personnel’s to rake up the issue of gift of Darjeeling to British India government to stake claim for a merger of Sikkim and Darjeeling region to form another state.
The merger of Sikkim and Darjeeling to form another state has always been an issue dredged up by political parties to gain publicity to further their own political agendas when they run out of any other issues to gain the attention of the public.
The contention that Darjeeling belongs to Sikkim based on the gift deed is a misinterpreted understanding of the agreement, Darjeeling was gifted to the Britishers was an unconditional cessation of a narrow enclave of 138 square miles, about 30 miles long and 6 miles wide.
It was entirely surrounded by the Raja’s dominions entry and exit being restricted to a narrow path, which included the sites of Darjeeling and Kurseong towns and touched the plains near Pankhabari.
The land gifted to East India Co. in 1835 did not comprise the whole present Darjeeling. After independence, the government of India stepped into the shoes of British India with the authority over the territory of British India, including Darjeeling. The later treaty of 1950 between India and Sikkim did not dispute the status of Darjeeling as part of India. The final merger of Sikkim into India finally closes any ambiguity on the status of Darjeeling as part of Sikkim.
The attempt by the Gorkha National Congress to incite the sentiments of the Nepali population of Sikkim towards the merger is a serious threat to national security in view of the sensitive position of Sikkim as a border state and the recent threat by the Chinese on the international border.
The Gorkha National Congress must remember that the Nepalese of Sikkimese origin are Sikkimese first with interest of Sikkim in their heart and any attempt to lure them into their secessionist movement will be strongly resisted by all Sikkimese.
In view of such attempts to divide the Sikkimese population on caste basis and change the demographic pattern by propagating the idea of merger, the state government needs to take urgent steps to safeguard the local population from any such attempt.
- The protection under Article 371F for the people of Sikkimese origin must be reinforced by adopting more safeguards through laws to strengthen the old laws.
- There has already been a great demographic change due to migration of people from other states, and it is high time that the government implement the orders of the Hon’ble High Court of Sikkim in the false Sikkim Subject case so that the interests of the local people are protected.
- The recent labour rule of registering labourers is a welcome development, but the rule has to be further toughened by closing the loopholes and must be implemented seriously. The definition of labourers must include agricultural labourers comprising all Adaya, Khutiyas, MGNREGA workers and all workers in every sector both organized and unorganized. All workers, including local and non-local, must be registered so that they can be traced when required and the exact number can be ascertained. The registration of workers will help to track the migration of workers from other states and help to formulate laws to stop illegal migration.
- The low birth rate of local population and rising migration is a serious concern for all Sikkimese who are slowly becoming a second class citizen in their own homeland, this problem can be mitigated if inner line permit (ILP) be enforced so that entry of non locals can be controlled.
With political parties in neighbouring states waiting to exploit regional and caste sentiments to further their own political agenda, Sikkim must be forever on guard to thwart these attempts and protect its own territory and interest of its public vis-à-vis national security of India.
Jai Sikkim, Jai Bharat
Tseten Tashi Bhutia, Ex-MLA