Kalimpong: Darjeeling MP and BJP national spokesperson Raju Bista has expressed his discontent over the Supreme Court’s reference to the Sikkimese Nepali community as ‘foreigners’ in its recent judgment.
Terming the reference as “highly objectionable”, the MP, in a statement on Sunday said that the remark is a great disservice to the Gorkha community of Sikkim and has the potential to create widespread ethnic and communal disturbances in a sensitive border state like Sikkim.
The SC in its January 13 judgment regarding extending Income Tax exemption to the Indian-origin old settlers of Sikkim had in one instance referred to the Sikkimese Nepalis as “persons of foreign origin settled in Sikkim”.
Bista said that the Gorkhas have been an integral and important part of the history, polity and society of Sikkim from ancient times to the merger of Sikkim in India in 1975.
“Perhaps the Hon’ble Court is unaware that the Gorkhas have been part of Sikkim much before its modern-day existence. The very name Sikkim is derived from the Tsong (Limbu) words Su-Khyim, meaning New Palace. Limbus are one of the Gorkha sub-tribes. When Phuntshog Namgyal was consecrated as the first Chogyal of Sikkim in 1642, he made a pact called Lho-Mon-Tsong-Sum (Lho-Bhutias, Mon-Lepchas, Tsong-Limbus, and sum-three), attesting to Gorkha presence in Sikkim when the modern-day Kingdom of Sikkim was established. The presence of Magars, Rai and other Gorkha-sub tribes in Sikkim has been very well documented, including in the Census of 1931 and 1941. Moreover, the Gorkha kingdom had annexed Sikkim from 1777, till the Gorkhas surrendered lands from Kangra in the west to Darjeeling-Sikkim region in the east following the Anglo-Gorkha war under the 1816 Sugauli Treaty,” the MP said.
Bista further said out of the six chief ministers of Sikkim so far, five belong to the ethnically Gorkha community, including incumbent chief minister Prem Singh Golay.
Yet, the Supreme Court thought it was wise to label a whole group of people as “foreigners”. It is this humiliation meted out from the highest of offices across the nation that enables the persecution Gorkhas have had to face across India, the MP said.
Bista also pointed out that the Gorkhas have had to bear the brunt of ethnic strife in many parts of India, from where they have been forced to flee after being labelled as ‘foreigners’.
“I am most fearful that the careless words used by the highest court in the land, can very well be made to be the basis for further discrimination and ethnic cleansing of Gurkhas in the coming days. I stand with the people of Sikkim in seeking these offensive opinions expunged from the order,” the lawmaker said.
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Bista has further announced to bring up the issue in the appropriate forum.
“The era of Gorkhas being levelled as “foreigners” and discriminated against is long gone. We will not tolerate any such infringement and baseless assertions on our community any more,” he said.
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