History of Sikkim Subject status in Sikkim
History of Sikkim Subject status in Sikkim
Posted by Tashi Pemba
THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT HAD PROPOSED (BY THE RECENT AMENDENT TO THE FINANCE ACT2008, )TO MAKE INCOME TAX PAYABLE IN SIKKIM BY ALL THOSE WITHOUT SIKKIM SUBJECT STATUS—– IGNORING THE FOUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF ALL THOSE LIVING IN SIKKIM FOR GENERATIONS , WHO HAVE NOT BEEN GRANTED THE SAID SIKKIM SUBJECT STATUS BECAUSE OF RACIAL DESCRIMINATION .
What is this Sikkim subject qualification?
This was originally the list of people who the erstwhile Chogyal recognized for the purpose of protecting his vote bank in the erstwhile kingdom. This list was promulgated and maintained for the purpose of keeping the voting restricted in a manner to help keep the Bhutia /Lepcha community, to which the Chogyal belonged, in absolute power.
This was imperative for the ruler in the face of ever increasing Nepalese immigration from both Nepal and Darjeeling district. In infact the Bhutia/Lepcha votes were given extra numerical value to ensure that the erstwhile National Party promoted by the Chogyal retained ethnic power.
After democracy was introduced in Sikkim the first Chief Minister lasted a single term and in the second election Nar Bahadur Bhandari seized power by engineering defections from the ” Rising sun ” party of Shri Ram Chandra Poudyal a hero of the struggle against the Choyal’s unpopular regime.
As a consequence the Nepalese tasted power for the first time in Sikkim but soon realized to their dismay that they could never enjoy the true fruits political power as the Bhutia/ Lepcha community controlled (12 out of 32) assembly seats reserved for them as per the terms of the merger.
To undo this promise of the government of India a movement headed by N.B.Bhandari the Chief Minister headed for New Delhi to persuade the Central Government to give a one time waiver and include 80,000 Nepalese in the “Sikkim Subject” Register. This was a very selective list of people from only one community (NEPALESE) and was prepared specifically for the purpose of retaining and ensuring political power for this community.
No other communities were included in this list which was based solely on racial considerations.There were in actual fact many other people from other communities like Bihari, Punjabi, Marwari, Muslim and many more including some Congress Party Nationalist Nepalese of Darjeeling origin who met all and more of the required criteria and who were specifically not included .
All the above groups were perceived at that time by the Nepalese leadership to be a vote bloc which would
1. Vote against any anti-India legislation introduced in the Assembly.( Then C.M. N.B.Bhandari espoused an Anti India campaign with his “Return Sikkim to the King ” platform .and under which he campaigned in the elections against L.D.Kazi the supreme leader of the Revolution against the Choyal’s autocratic rule) and
2. Vote with the ethnic Bhutia/Lepcha community and add to their numbers in any situation to help prevent any brute Nepali majority from smothering legitimate minority aspirations.
The Second Bhandari electoral victory around 83/84 saw him come to power with a brute majority commanding 31 out of 32 MLA’s in the Assembly. However, this victory was soured by the single opposition winner from the prestigious Gangtok constituency from where Balchand Sarda of Marwari decent fought and won as an Independent candidate against a very strong Mrs.Bhandari the wife of the winning chief minister.
Ironically the advisors of L.D.Kazi the ruling Chief Minister had felt that fielding Balchand would disturb Nepali sentiment and put all other seats at risk because of Nepali ire at such a move and had strongly advocated against giving Balchand party backing.
This victory of Balchand galvanized Bhandari to try to pressurize the centre to allow citizenship to the aforesaid eighty thousand odd Nepalese but Mrs.Gandhi shrewdly realizing intentions of Bhandari refused the request outright. However in time V.P.SINGH became the Prime Minister and Bhandari quickly managed to diametrically turn Delhi’s views.
As a consequence the family of this Balchand Sarda with a hundred years of history in Sikkim , even elected as MLA in Sikkim is now being deprived of Sikkimese identity and being discriminated against while people of very recent entry into Sikkim from Nepal etc are being given this benefit of this recognition with attendant benefits in employment and Tax concessions.
However in actual fact in the ensuing years the granting of “Sikkim subject status” to individual candidates continued unabated and continues till date and has been awarded to many applicants from both the Bhutia /Lepcha and Nepali communities who have migrated from either Nepal or Darjeeling District. Most of these successful applicants are of very doubtful antecedents and historical veracity. (Depending on which party was in power at the time “subject status” applications of various people of different ethnic backgrounds have succeeded. Thus when a Bhutia friendly administration reigned even Tibetan Refugees have been granted the coveted “status” in the bid to increase their numbers and vice versa when Nepali friendly administration is in power all sorts of recent entrants to Sikkim from Nepal etc have been granted this status. )
The minority communities not having political protection and living in an atmosphere of a heavy communal divide have continuously been decimated and discriminated against as a group —–irrespective of their history in Sikkim or contribution to the state.
This policy of blatant communalism is further expounded by the recent bill in the Sikkim assembly proposing to enact a law by which all jobs in the state of Sikkim whether in the private or public sector are to be reserved for “Sikkimese” i.e. “Sikkim Subject Holders” which means that now even children of people of Sikkim who have been residing in Sikkim for over a hundred years are not eligible for jobs even in the private sector in the state – and this discrimination continues to date even after 34 years of joining the Indian Union.)
Similarly the state has a very aggressive policy of barring even petty business ventures in Sikkim by requiring impossible conditions from “Indians” for even petty business trade licenses from the municipal authorities. To add insult to injury the erstwhile Municipal Corporation has been superseded, and not reinstated for more than 22 years, so people of Indian origin (who are mostly conglomerated around towns) have no say in the democratic functioning of the state and are deprived of a voice in the one place that their voice might count.
In Fact all sorts of constitutional immoralities have been committed in this state and it is time that the central authorities established the rule of the constitution as envisaged by the founding fathers or we will see the exact recreation of the saga of the persecution of Kashmiri Pundits in Jammu happening to the “Indians” in Sikkim.
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