Gangtok: Former Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling’s return to Sikkim Legislative Assembly turned into a day of high drama after violence was reported from multiple locations across Gangtok. 

The Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) supremo returned to the Assembly after three years. On the first day of the 6th session of the 10th Assembly (Budget Session 2022-23), the House observed a two-minute silence on the passing away of the former chief minister of Sikkim B.B. Gooroong. The House was then adjourned for the day.

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Following the exit from Assembly, supporters of Pawan Chamling claimed someone threw a stone at the vehicle of the Namchi-Singhithang legislator. However, the stone missed Chamling’s convoy and hit a taxi in front of them, they alleged. 

After the SDF claimed that one Navin Pradhan aka Nabbey was the stone pelter, many SDF supporters, including former ministers from the SDF regime, carried out a ‘protest march’ towards the Sadar Police Station to register an FIR against the accused.

Clashes allegedly broke out en route to the Sadar Police Station. The SDF said three of their party workers were grievously injured and hospitalised. Chamling visited the STNM Hospital later in the day to meet the alleged victims. Following this, around 4 pm, Chamling, former MP Prem Das Rai, and others met with the Sikkim Governor Ganga Prasad to submit a memorandum detailing the incidents of violence meted against him and SDF party workers in the past and on the day of the Assembly.

Upon his exit from Raj Bhawan, he addressed the media wherein Chamling demanded President’s Rule in Sikkim. He said, “The acts of violence were to deter me from entering the Assembly. The incidences of today and in the past prove that law and order have failed in Sikkim. There is no government, no security for people’s lives and properties. I was attacked merely 200 metres away from the Legislative Assembly. When our party workers tried to reach the police station, they had to clash with SKM supporters carrying pistols, knives exhibiting them even to the Police. In such a situation, even the police were helpless. The SKM leaders were in MG Marg all day to coordinate these attacks.”

On speaking with the Governor, Chamling claimed, “We have told the Governor that such anarchy in Sikkim is not good for the nation. Considering the present situation and past attacks, there is moral ground for SKM to stay in Government even for a minute. There should be a President’s Rule in Sikkim immediately for the security and peace of the people. This is what we have demanded of the Governor. We are waiting for his decision and some action taken as everything is possible in politics.”

Chamling assured he would attend the remaining session of the Assembly but expressed concern over whether the environment inside the House will be ‘democratic or undemocratic.’ 

Chamling refrained from demanding security for himself, claiming, “it is the prime duty of the government to ensure the security of its people and their properties.”

SKM party, however, disagreed with the claims made by Chamling. The Press Secretary to the Chief Minister, Bikash Basnet, through a press release on Monday, termed the incidents of violence as ‘political conspiracy.’ “Chamling attended Assembly over fears of losing his membership. Political violence and vandalism is deeply rooted in SDF. It is an old habit of the SDF to hire goons to smash vehicles and pass the blame to others. It was Chamling attending the Assembly, then what was the need for him to gather his supporters. It is his duty as a legislator to debate in the Assembly, but the conspiracy that he is pulling off is to run away from his responsibility as an opposition in the Assembly. We condemn the conspiracy to blame SKM government for such pre-meditated acts of disturbance. SKM government is committed to maintain peace in Sikkim.”

On Tuesday morning, Sikkim Police informed that four persons have been arrested in three different cases of stone-pelting on the former Chief Minister’s convoy and assault on Sikkim Democratic Front workers.

The arrest was made in three different complaints lodged at Sadar Police Station by SDF party workers Dr Mechung Bhutia, Prakash Gurung, Aron Chettri and Aita Rai. According to the police sources, those arrested are – Sanjeev Gurung, Jigme Bhutia, Tenzing Bhutia and Navin Pradhan. All four have been booked under different sections of IPC and is presently under police custody.

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