JAC demands Special Assembly to pass resolution 'defining Sikkimese and taking Article 371F to default setting of May 8, 1975 Agreement'

Thursday, Feb 09, 2023 07:30 [IST]

Last Update: Thursday, Feb 09, 2023 02:00 [IST]

JAC demands Special Assembly to pass resolution 'defining Sikkimese and taking Article 371F to default setting of May 8, 1975 Agreement'

GANGTOK,: The Joint action Council who had called a 12-hour “Sikkim Solidarity Bandh” on Wednesday, have now demanded for revisiting the Article 317F.

The demand from JAC challenges the IT exemption given to the old settlers of Sikkim. They have demanded the Sikkim Legislative Assembly to pass a resolution on February 9 to “clearly define the word Sikkimese and who falls in it”.

Addressing the media at Khas Bhawan which has served as the control room for the JAC, president Shanta Pradhan stated, “The changes made in the Article 371F for granting IT exemption must be the end of amendments made to the Article. We do demand for the Article 371F to go back to default setting as it was in 1975. The government and all the legislators must deliberate in the Assembly as to what defines the word Sikkimese tomorrow. Thereafter, they must pass a resolution before the judgement goes to the parliament for the amendment. If not, then JAC will have to carry on its protest.”

Terming the removal of the paragraph mentioning Sikkimese Nepali community with the review petition as “half battle won”, JAC maintained definition of Sikkimese to be more crucial. “The SC says that they have touched or discussed on the matter of Article 371F, when it is not discussed. Now the definition of Sikkimese has to be constituted by the Assembly of Sikkim. We have also placed request for passing a resolution on Nepali seat reservation. To give political justice to the majority Sikkimese Nepali communuity, we have placed the demands to the CM and he has assured on passing the resolution,” said JAC executive Passang Sherpa.

Thanking the Union government, the State government, political parties and organizations for extending support with the review petition which has now removed the word ‘immigrant’ and the foreigner tag from the Sikkimese Nepali community, JAC president stated, “It's a history that it happened in such a short time. The foreigner tag has now been removed. Article 371F was approved by the erstwhile king of Sikkim; it was through his approval that we were declared as Sikkim Subjects. There were merely 34-37 families of traders who renounced their Indian identity in 1975 to become Sikkimese. When they were given the chance to become Sikkimese Subject, the others didn’t take it. Now to ask for IT exemption is not justified.  Sikkim now has been marred by influx which is the root cause of the issue and with low birth rate and ever increasing voters list, the Sikkimese people are losing their identity.”

The JAC president highlighted how the JAC has no enmity towards the old settlers and business community in the State. “They were placing their demands for rights, we are placing our rights as Sikkimese, the two concerns must never dampen the peace and pride that we have as Sikkimese. We were fighting for our survival. The Residential Certificate has been misused which was granted to many from the business community but from 300-400 families. They have now reached above 12,000. It dampens Article 371F as well as the meaning of Sikkimese,” stated Pradhan.

JAC thanked the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home minister Amit Shah for taking the immigrant issue as “national priority and making personal intervention”.  They also thanked State BJP president D.R. Thapa for taking JAC to meet the Home minister and Bharat Basnet, Vivek Basnet and former R.B. Subba for fighting a lone battle in Delhi to file the review petition.

The JAC, formed on January 27, has been an exhibition of Sikkimese unity, maintained the JAC.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi