GANGTOK: Four students from Geyzing Degree College who were expelled for staging a protest in Gangtok and called ‘anti-national’ for supporting the farmers’ protest in the country have found support from Bhaichung Bhutia.

The Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP) supremo was pictured with one of the expelled students, when he extended monetary aid to them to fight a legal battle over their expulsion.

In a press statement issued by the HSP, the Padmashri recipient was quoted, “Today, I contributed a small token amount to our four students (Pravin Upreti, Praveen Basnett, Loknath Chettri, Nakul Sharma) who were expelled by the government of Sikkim from their college for demanding better infrastructure in their college. I will further support them in the coming days until they get justice.”

Bhutia said, “This SKM-led government is acting in a dictatorial manner by denying them their basic Right to Education. They even went to the extent of calling them anti-nationals just because they showed solidarity with the farmers. I urge the Hon. CM Mr P S Golay and his government to apologise to these students for trying to destroy theirs and their families lives in every possible way. When the PM Mr Modi can apologise, why cant the CM and SKM government do the same? I also urge the government to compensate the students and their families financially for the distress caused to them.”

Bhaichung appealed to the Sikkimese public to extend support “in their endeavour for justice”.

“As a citizen of Sikkim and India, I feel ashamed by this kind of action towards poor students who only demanded better classrooms in their college,” said the former Indian football captain.

The four students fighting a legal battle since March against their expulsion have collected Rs 80,000 through crowdfunding.

Making a general appeal for help, they said, Bhaichung Bhutia reached out to us at a personal level. We don’t want to disclose it. We have advocate expenses, travel and food, appearance fee for lawyers. And there is every chance of the hearing getting extended, so we are collecting donations from people based on whatever they wish to give.”

“There is every inclination of giving back to the people what we collect, if it doesn’t come in use. We have made a general appeal, anyone can extend support,” the students said.

So far, the hearing since March has had 7-8 orders passed by the court, with the next hearing due on November 23.

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