Tripartite Agreement, Sikkim’s merger: How Sikkim Became the 22nd State of India

Sikkim is a tiny Himalayan state which became part of India inthe year 1976. The State before 1976 was an independent country with a political system based on the monarchy. The history of Sikkim goes back to 1642 when three lamas crowned Phunstong Namgyal as the first Chogyal (spiritual king) of Sikkim.

Sikkim remained as an independent state for almost 500 years, when Britishers came to India as an East India company it becomes close friends with the independent Sikkim based on one rationale ‘Nepal’ , both Britishers and Sikkim disliked Nepal

The Nepalis or Gorkhas were known as warriors and during the 18th century Nepal continuously used to attack their neighboring states to expand their kingdom which also included Sikkim, due to which the then Chogyal also had to flee to Tibet seeking asylum.

The Anglo-Nepalese war 1814-1816 was fought between Nepal and Britishers where Nepal lost badly leading to the signing of Treaty of Sugauli 1816 in which Nepal had to give away parts of Sikkim, Kumaon and Garwal which was previously captured by Nepal, then in 1817 Sikkim and Britain also signed a treaty known as the treaty of Titalia according to which Sikkim was subjugated to British jurisdiction but with some independence in addition Britishers gained control over Darjeeling that had been part of Sikkim was now under Britishers.

Till India got Independence the relationship between Sikkim and Britishers was untouched and unchanged however when India got independence in the year 1946 and the Britishers left it wasn’t clear that what would be the relationship between India and Sikkim two major questions was raised. Will Sikkim remain as an external protectorate or would Sikkim become an Indian state?

In 1950 the Indo-Sikkimese Treaty made Sikkim a Indian protectorate, with India assuming responsibility for the external relations, defense, and strategic communications of Sikkim. Further India also held a right to station its armed forces in Sikkim. The move of signing the treaty was opposed by Sardar Patel and B.N Rao who were the constitutional advisor to the consistent assembly wherein they believed that Sikkim should be treated like other princely states and shouldn’t be given independence meanwhile Jawaharlal Nehru had his reasons which defended the treaty, the first reason was that he was an idealist, he also beloved that force shouldn’t be used against Sikkim, in contrast to it he said: “ if we bring a small country like Sikkim within our fold by using force, it would be like killing a fly with a bullet”. 

Furthermore, he also believed that if force will be used to capture Sikkim it might invigorate china and encourage it to invade Tibet. However, china in the year 1958 invaded china ending a long period of Tibetan self-rule.

Then after the 1962 India-china war, Sikkim’s monarchy demanded greater external and internal autonomy since after the 1962 war and 1965 war against Pakistan the Indian military presence in Sikkim had been increased which on the other hand the tensions and nervousness was increased of the monarchy in Sikkim.

After 1966, the monarchy demanded autonomy in the economy and trade too, the demand originated first when the crown prince Palden Thendup Namgyal became the new Chogyal. Following the timeline on April 4, 1973 protesters gathered outside the Chogyal’s palace demanding end of the monarchy, likewise in the same year. Agreement was signed between Indian government, Chogyal and political parties of Sikkim known as the Tripartite agreement, soon after the agreement elections were announced in which after the elections Kazi Lendup Dorjee who was leading the opposition party against Sogyal became the first chief minister of Sikkim, however, the Tripartite agreement didn’t end the monarchy but on April 7 1975, the Indian government organized a coup against Chogyal and put him under house arrest, after the incident many letters were exchanged between Chogyal and Indira Gandhi.

On April 26, 1975 the thirty-sixth Amendment Act was introduced by Indian government to make Sikkim part of India. In addition India also organized a referendum in which majority of the people demanded democratic system and on May 16, 1975 Sikkim formally became the 22nd tate India and position of Chogyal was abolished.

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