SKM spokesperson Jacob Khaling drew photographic evidence of the duo to have participated in the ongoing farmer's protest in January Credit: Pankaj Dhungel

GANGTOK: Ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha party termed two of the arrested Geyzing college students to be ‘Desh Drohi’, ‘Anti-establishment’ and ‘reactionary’, questioning if they are really students.

SKM spokesperson Jacob Khaling drew photographic evidence of the duo to have participated in the ongoing farmer’s protest in January, questioning if they were involved in the alleged unfurling of the National Flag at Red Fort, New Delhi.

“Why are students extending support and being involved in the Farmers Protest? it appears they went to Singhu border with banners and even raised slogans, they took an Innova vehicle from Sikkim to Singhu border, so who is funding them? Despite the farmers’ bills being good for India, they opposed. They had raised the concern on odd and even rule in October here in Sikkim, clashing with drivers in the state. Now, they have disguised themselves as students and raising concerns on early completion of work not being done for Geyzing College. They are nothing but reactionary and anti-establishment individuals”, stated Jacob Khaling.

The political secretary to the Chief Minister also asserted that the SKM party will approach the CBI, NIA and other investigative agencies to find out about the duo and their alleged involvement in the unfurling of the National Flag in Red Fort.

“Such individuals who disguise themselves as students are now misleading the Geyzing college students, they may have been involved in the unfurling of the National Flag in Red Fort. They are anti-nationals, who incite violence in Sikkim and we request investigative agencies to find out if they were involved in Red Fort chaos”, stated Khaling.

Eighteen male students camped at Education Department building on Friday night around 11 pm were forcibly taken out of the premises by the Sikkim Police. While most of the other students were either dropped at their native Geyzing town, they were restricted from using mobile phones or letting their whereabouts be known, allege the remaining 9 female students who spent the entire day outside the Sadar Police Station protesting for the release of the duo.

The arrested duo have been identified as Pravin Basnett and Pravin Upreti. They were booked under IPC Sections 341 (punishment for wrongful restrain), 448 (punishment for house-trespass) 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault and wrongful restraint), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharging his duty) 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) and the same was deemed as a non-bailable offence.

They were released on bail Saturday, however, the charges and the case against them have not been dropped yet.

So far, there has been no official statement from either the Additional Chief Secretary and Sikkim Police. The female students spent the entire day questioning the Sikkim Police, on what grounds were the students arrested and if they would be released. Furthermore, the female students made counter-allegations against the Additional Chief Secretary Upadhayay of having pushed female students with his hands, touching their body to exit the Education Department building. The students’ attempt at filing a counter FIR was rejected by Sikkim Police, despite repeated attempts by them on Saturday at Sadar Police Station.

On the work done for Geyzing Government College, Khaling stated, “We were hampered with the COVID-19 pandemic wherein work could not be carried out during the lockdown for 8-9 months in 2020. Issues like lack of labour force, raw materials, transportation issues hampered the Chief Minister’s written assurance of completion of the first phase of Geyzing College. Students in a meeting with the CM in March 2020 demanded the expansion of the college ground area, which took some time as more land acquisition was needed and adequate compensation for residents.

We have allocated close to Rs. 35.86 crore for the construction of the college and the tender was passed. The additional cost, including the previous construction, and compensation, increased the cost to about Rs 54 crore. We had to even pay close to Rs. 5 crore of the unpaid bill to the contractors as the previous government had not made the payment. Work will follow swiftly now on a priority basis.”

On the absence of Education Minister Kunga Nima Lepcha from the whole conversation and the issue. SKM spokesperson defended the Minister to have been advised medically from avoiding such stressful environment owing to his health.

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