Tuesday, Jan 12, 2021 07:30 [IST]
Last Update: Tuesday, Jan 12, 2021 02:01 [IST]
GANGTOK,: The Sikkim Legislative Assembly on Monday adopted a government resolution seeking tribal status for the 12 left-out Nepali communities of Sikkim.
An IPR release informs that the government resolution was proposed by Social Welfare minister Dr. M.K. Sharma and seconded by MLA Sonam T. Venchungpa.
Ethnic communities consisting of Thami, Bahun, Chhetri, Sanyasi (Jogi), Newar, Kirat Khambu Rai, Kirat Dewan, Sunwar, Gurung, Manger and Bhujel along with Majhi have been demanded for inclusion in the ST list.
“….we the representatives of the people in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly hereby solemnly resolve, that the tribal status be granted to all ethnic communities of Sikkim for their social, economic and educational upliftment and equality amongst the people of Sikkim,” the government resolution reads.
The resolution highlights Article 371F provisions and the Sikkim Subject Regulation 1961, an old law, where all ethnic communities were given equal opportunities when Sikkim was a kingdom. Therefore, the demand of all ethnic communities for status of tribe in the State of Sikkim under the provision of Constitution is genuine, it advocates.
‘Long pending demand’
Chief Minister P.S. Golay, during the discussion on the resolution, spoke on the legitimacy of the long pending demand of the State. He further expressed his gratitude to the House for their positive response and whole-hearted support for the resolution, the IPR release mentions. He also provided a historical perspective on the status of the ‘Hill Tribe’ communities citing the Census of 1931 and 1941.
The discussion on the government resolution was also participated by members D.R. Thapa, Tashi Thendup Bhutia and Aditya Golay where they whole-heartedly supported the resolution.
‘First govt resolution on tribal status demand’
Addressing a press meet later in the day, SKM spokesperson Jacob Khaling spelled out the difference between the tribal status demand resolutions in the Assembly adopted by the SKM government and the past SDF government.
“The previous SDF government had passed resolutions on the tribal status demand for the left-out communities but despite being in the government, the resolution did not come from the government. It was placed by a member of the House as a private member’s resolution. A resolution coming from the government carries much weightage but the past SDF government made only a lame effort before the public by having a private member’s resolution which then could not make much impression among the Centre and concerned agencies,” said Khaling.
After coming to know about this major error, today in a historic first, the Sikkim government itself placed the government resolution, said Khaling. He said the all the SKM and BJP members unanimously passed the government resolution.
Khaling maintained that the previous government did not place the demand with proper documents or as per the statutory norms before the Centre. Because of these shortcomings, the demand was left pending, he said.
Tribal status demand for the similar left-out Nepali speaking communities in neighbouring Darjeeling hills is also gathering momentum in view of the upcoming Bengal Assembly elections.
Asked whether the Bengal Assembly elections could help in expediting the demand, the SKM spokesperson pointed out that major political demands have been resolved during important political occasions as history shows. Similarly, Sikkim cannot also be untouched by such situations. Be it Bengal elections or general selections, we want the tribal status and to be honest, we want to use any opportunity, he said. We feel that situation in Darjeeling and India could add strength to our demand, he said.
‘Regret Chamling’s irresponsible absence’
Khaling also pointed out to the unexplained absence of former Chief Minister Pawan Chamling in the Assembly session today when the government resolution was placed.
“An important resolution was coming up and it needed support of every member in the Assembly. With regret I must say that Chamling who ruled for 25 years did not show his presence to support the resolution or to share his experiences for the House record. He was not present in this historic occasion. He did not even bother to communicate with the Speaker regarding his absence. This shows he is indifferent to the tribal status demand of the left-out communities and we regret his irresponsible act,” said the SKM spokesperson.
‘All-MLA delegation to Delhi’
The SKM spokesperson shared that joint efforts would be made by SKM and BJP to pursue the tribal status demand at Delhi with the Centre in coming days. We will take a delegation to Delhi under the leadership of our Chief Minister, he said.
The Chief Minister has said the delegation will have both SKM and BJP legislators and efforts would also be made to take the SDF MLA (Chamling) along, said Khaling. The delegation would also have one representative from each of the 12 left-out communities, he informed.