SC Investigatives

Sikkim political outfits denounce Sikkim-Darjeeling Merger 

“We want constitutional guarantee and legislative security which means separation from Bengal and merger with Sikkim” Subodh Pakhrin, Chief Coordinator, Gorkha Rashtriya congress.

That statement Subodh  Pakhrin, GRC  gave after meeting with the Governor of West Bengal in which they proposed a memorandum of merging Darjeeling hills with the state of Sikkim.

In addition, Pakhrin  while addressing the local media said that Darjeeling originally belongs to Sikkim and was gifted by the British by the then chogyal to the British. “ Darjeeling is a lost territory of Sikkim and if now given back to Sikkim then there will be no further problems as it was once part of Sikkim and in the white paper 1986 issued by Bengal  stated that Darjeeling is part of Sikkim”

Further, after the statement by GRC the ruling front SKM party of Sikkim addressed the media in which Jacob Khaling Political Secretary of Chief minister Sikkim contempt the statement and suggested it as a political propaganda of GRC, “the party which has no political involvement till date in the politics of Bengal, without an MLA even a Panchayat has won any elections in Bengal are giving such statement which we as a party and Sikkimise condemn the merger”

“Darjeeling was gifted by our fore-fathers, and we don’t take back what we have already gifted to someone else” added Khaling

Spokesperson Khaling during the presser also mentioned that Sikkim has always been supporting the Gorkhaland movement and will always support but will never let happen Sikkim- Darjeeling merger. “Sikkim is a state which is the 22nd state of Indian territory, and it has its own special provision under the constitution of India, and this provision works as a double protection for Sikkimesse people and which will never allow Darjeeling to be part of Sikkim” he added

Sikkim Darjeeling merger is condemned by all the political parties of Sikkim including the ruling front.

After the statement by Pakhrin, group of people from Namchi South Sikkim took out protest march and burnt effigy at Central Park, Namchi of Bharat Dong who is the President Gorkha National Congress, Darjeeling against the Sikkim- Darjeeling merger.

Bhartiya Janta Party Sikkim  unit also lashed on the statement of GRC, in which D.B Chauhan state president BJP condemned the act and claimed it as the concerned are trying to play with the emotions of the people, “ we strongly condemn the act by a Darjeeling based so-called political party which recently submitted a memorandum to the West Bengal governor demanding merger of Darjeeling and Sikkim. They are trying to play with the emotions of the people of the Sikkim and Darjeeling”

Chauhan further empathizing on having different political and constitutional identity said “people of both the regions have been helping each other at times of need and keeping friendly relations for years. The people of Sikkim have always been supporting from their hearts  the separate statehood demand made by Darjeeling ” said Chauhan

Further Chauhan called it as an political conspiracy which could harm identity and politics “in this scenario, a political party has made a political conspiracy that could harm the identity of  both the regions. They have not only challenged constitutional protection of Sikkim but also tried to bury the long pending statehood demand of Darjeeling people” said Chauhan

Sikkim Bhutia Lepcha Apex Committee (SIBLAC) were also amongst the one who were not happy with Subodh  Pakhrin’s  statement, SIBLAC in their press release stated that the attempt by the GNC  to incite the sentiments of the Nepali population of Sikkim towards the merger is a serious threat to national security.

“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.” SIBLAC

Furthermore, SIBLAC also mentioned that 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.” Added the statement.

SIBLAC also appealed Government of Sikkim to ensure the safeguard of Sikkimese people, stating, “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.”

Gorkha Rashtriya Congress (GRC) is a political party spearheading the unification of Darjeeling with Sikkim. The party was founded by D.K Bomzan.

Prior to this year’s statement the party has produced such statement in the past years also, in the year in 2012 the representatives of the GRC also submitted a memorandum to the then Governor of Sikkim, in 2020 the president of the GNC claimed that Sikkim government will take up merger issue by 2022

According to the statesmen news service report, President Bharat Dong claimed that the present government of Sikkim led by P S Tamang may raise the demand for inclusion of the lost territory of Darjeeling in state of Sikkim by the year 2022.

“During the tenure of the former chief minister of Sikkim, the GRC leadership tried several times to meet him and discuss the GRC’s Sikkim-Darjeeling merger demand, but failed to meet them. But the present Cm of Sikkim met us and listened to us regarding our Sikkim-Darjeeling merger demand. As such, keeping in mind all these things, including the historical errors, we hope that the PS Golay led Sikkim government will definitely raise the issue of Sikkim- Darjeeling merger by 2022” added the statement.

However, after the statement of  the GRC president, the SKM government condemned the statement made by Gorkha Rashtriya Congress leader, Bharat Dong, that Chief Minister PS Tamang  has assured to “take up” Sikkim-Darjeeling merger by the year 2022.

In regard to the claim, Jacob Khaling, Political secretary and spokesperson SKM  party then alleged that the report might have been planted by Sikkim Democratic Front.

Khaling claimed the statement to be  false and said “CM or any other SKM leader has never officially met a GRC delegation and never discussed Sikkim-Darjeeling merger”

Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamnag in the year 2020 addressing media at the capital said “Those demanding Gorkhaland for Darjeeling hills are doing so as per their constitutional right. It is for the Centre to decide on whether to agree with it or not. However, there is no question of its merger with Sikkim”

 The GRC leader Ashok Lepcha during their election campaigning in the year 2019 said that Darjeeling hills were a part of Sikkim and both the regions must be unified.

When in terms of historical background of Sikkim and Darjeeling, it can be found in the Sikkim history that the Darjeeling was given to East India Company as a gift by the then chogyal of Sikkim.

According to Bina Sengar Assistant Professor’ Department of History and Ancient Indian Culture Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, in her article named  DARJEELING: MORE THAN QUEEN OF HILLS it was mentioned that “On February 1, 1835, rajah of Sikkim ceded the Dorjeeling (now Darjeeling) to Britishers the lease deed goes as follows: 

The Governer-General having expressed his desire for the possession of the Hill of Darjeeling, on account of its cool climate, for the purpose of enabling the servants of his Government, suffering from sickness, to avail themselves of its advantages, I , Sikkim Rajah, out of friendship to the said Governer General, hereby present Darjeeling to the East India company, that is the land south of the Great Runjeet River, east of the Balasur, Kahail and Little Ranjeet Rivers, and west of the Rungno and Mahanuddi Rivers.  – A Campbell, Superintendent of Darjeeling and In-charge of the political relations with Sikkim. 

Initially rajah gave the entire region as gift to the British East India Company, considering the region to be a wasteland but as the prosperity and domination of the Darjeeling surpassed Sikkim then in 1841 under influence of Nigme the trusted minister of rajah, rajah insisted the company to pay a revenue of Rs. 3000 which was again increased by Rs. 6000 in 1846”

After Britishers left India in 1947, Darjeeling  was merged with the state of West Bengal hence making it part of India, and Sikkim was still an independent country then and in the year 1975 Sikkim became the 22nd state of India  under the special  provision of Article 371F of the Indian constitution.

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