GANGTOK: Following the Sikkim High Court order to ‘set aside’ the expulsion of four students from Geyzing Degree College, the calls for apologising to them for calling them ‘anti-national’ and ‘anti-establishment’ has grown louder. On February 7, the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha party’s spokesperson Jacob Khaling had termed two of the then-protesting Geyzing College students to be ‘deshdrohi’, ‘anti-establishment’, and ‘reactionary’, questioning if they were really students.

SKM spokesperson Khaling, the political secretary to the Chief Minister, had taken photo evidence of the two students to have participated in the farmer’s protest in January, questioning if they were involved in the alleged unfurling of the National Flag at Red Fort, New Delhi.

The political secretary to the Chief Minister had also asserted that the SKM party will approach the CBI, the NIA and other investigative agencies to find out about two students: Pravin Upreti and Prabin Chettri, and their alleged involvement in the Red Fort incident.

“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”, Khaling had stated then.

When EastMojo asked Khaling during a press conference if he would take back his statement, Khaling denied calling them anti-national. He stated, “I have not called them anti-national, take out my video where I have said so, take out the cutting of the same. Not the 30-40 second long edited video, rather, the full video. Where have I called these four students anti-national? If there is visual evidence, I will apologise. It should be uncut, unedited. I have never termed them anti-national.”

Khaling admitted that he did raise the issue of the National Flag being lowered in Red Fort during the farmers’ protest, which he termed as an anti-national incident. “I never said that the lowering of the flag was done by these four. One section of those protesting was involved in such activities, and when our brothers went there, I warned them that such tags would be labelled against them as well. That was what I said, I wanted to warn and alert them. Don’t go to every other protest.”

Khaling admitted that he didn’t want to justify to the students, as they refused to understand him. “I am clear, and I am satisfied with what I have said. Look into those videos properly, I have never said those four students to be anti-national. Hence, there is no point in issuing an apology. They were not alert, so it is not my fault.”

Khaling said nowhere in the court judgment did the High Court blame the state government for the expulsion of the four students. He urged the four students to ‘study, grow and stay disciplined’ away from being involved in politics. “If you are a student currently, and if you are studying, finish that first. After that you can come into politics but don’t mix the two,” said Khaling.

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