Guwahati: Once a separate country, Sikkim became an integral part of India in 1975. Sadly even after 45 years of its amalgamation with the nation, official documents are yet to be updated. Some official documents pertaining to ‘the Civil Defence regulations 1968’ still refer to Sikkim as a separate nation at par with Bhutan and Nepal.
The issue came to light with the Delhi government committing a blunder in its advertisement calling for civil defence volunteers. The lieutenant governor, Anil Baijal was quick to act and announce the suspension of the senior officer in the civil defence. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal also took to Twitter to call Sikkim an integral part of India. The advertisement was withdrawn and action taken. However, it turns out that the officer was merely following a central government document.
Anyone can check the official website of the Directorate General Fire Services, Civil Defence & Home Guards, which comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs Government of India.
In the act and rules section, the page has ‘Civil Defence Regulations 1968 document in (https://dgfscdhg.gov.in/sites/default/files/CD-ACT.pdf) which clearly describes Sikkim as a separate country at par with Nepal and Bhutan. So was the senior officer to blame? Who is responsible for updating this important document? Does it not disrespect the territorial integrity of India? by making incorrect reference to Sikkim on the same lines as some neighbouring countries?
The ministry of home affairs page is not alone, Vikaspedia, an online information guide launched by the Government of India also has a document on civil defence, (https://vikaspedia.in/social-welfare/disaster-management-1/civil-defence-volunteer) and this too identifies Sikkim as a separate country like Bhutan and Nepal.
The website of Government of Assam Home and Political Civil Defence & Home Guards (https://dgcd.assam.gov.in/information-services/eligibility-criteria-to-apply-for-civil-defence) is no different. We went through several websites to see the same mistake.
The Delhi unit of the BJP in its Twitter attacked the Kejriwal Government and said, “On 15 May 1975, the President of India ratified a constitutional amendment that made Sikkim the 22nd state of India. Stop misleading people! However official websites and documents of the government of India say otherwise.
Some on twitter sought the Ministry of Home Affairs should immediately amend the Civil Defence Act, 1968 to remove this provision but these voices were lost in the sea of condemnation.
We tried to check the official website of the Sikkim government on Civil defence but it was non-operational at the moment.
In light of these developments, the suspension of the senior officer of Directorate of Civil Defence (HQ) must be considered because there seems to a systemic problem.
The chief minister of Sikkim has expressed serious concern over the mistake committed by the Delhi government but he now has to seek more. Prem Singh Tamang will have to petition the government to amend ‘the Civil Defence Regulations 1986’. This is an issue that should not be taken lightly in view of the increased aggression by our neighbours.
“Our people even cannot think of such a mistake by a responsible government. The people of Sikkim are a lover of democracy and amalgamated with the national ethos, purity of nationhood engraved in their heart,” said the chief minister of Sikkim.