Political violence in Sikkim: SKM- SDF cadres pelting stones, burning vehicles

GANGTOK: 2022 in Sikkim started on a violent note with heckling, hurling stones and burning vehicles witnessed among rival political parties.

The parties in contention are the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha and the opposition party Sikkim Democratic Front. The violence began a few days ago when former Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling was heckled in Melli, South Sikkim. On Sunday, however, the rival parties resorted to all-out stone-pelting in Tarey Bhir, also in South Sikkim.

On Monday night, the vehicle of John Subba, an SKM cadre, in Jorethang was burned. Subba filed an FIR on January 11, naming three SDF cadres to have burned his vehicle, claiming he was being ‘followed for days’ by the three SDF supporters.

On Tuesday, SDF spokesperson MK Subba and other party leaders submitted a memorandum to the Director-General of Police and the state home department, seeking security for Chamling.

Sikkim Police is yet to issue a statement on the law and order situation, but rival party members have been hurling blames on each other.

Interestingly, political violence in Sikkim has increased after the return of Chamling to Sikkim and the political discourse following a long absence. His party, the SDF, claims their visits to different parts of the South district are non-political and more for attending funerals in the region.

However, the SKM called it a lie. “Chamling travels with a cavalcade of 30-40 vehicles, flags and weapons all-ready, hurling abuses at SKM party cadres, inciting them to violence, is that how you go to a funeral?” the party asked in a press conference.

“Where is the FIR copy from SDF? We have ours to present about the stone hurling incident in Tarey Bhir. They came in similar carcade hurled abuses on our cadres, taking the name of Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay, challenging us for a fight. Our party cadres are not the ones going on challenging them, inciting violence, they were there at Tarey drives carrying out membership drives and distributing party calendars. But, they came with many vehicles, abusing us, and soon the incident switched to hurling stones at each other,” SKM added.

An FIR was lodged by the victims at Melli police station the same evening, naming the SDF functionaries and workers for attacking them with “sharp weapons, sticks and stones” causing them grievous injuries. Showing copies of the FIR to the media, SKM spokesperson Bikash Basnet countered why the SDF had not lodged a police complaint to substantiate their allegations of being attacked by the SKM at Sadam.

“The SDF is accusing us of blocking the road and assaulting them. However, where is their FIR? They could not file an FIR as the police reached the spot immediately and witnessed their act of violence. They are doing a conspiracy to blame SKM for the incident,” said Basnett.

“The SDF also claimed that their supporters were injured in the incident. We asked Melli primary health centre, who told us that no person came for treatment,” said the SKM spokesperson.

Melli SKM cadres have accused the SDF president, who was present at the spot, of verbally instigating the SDF workers to attack the SKM workers, demanded swift action from the police against the persons named in the FIR.

Former Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling wrote to East Mojo, “In Sikkim today, political terrorism seems to have taken root, and every movement of the opposition is being stopped. There is no democracy and law and order anymore in the state. Our social visit to a bereaved family was disturbed by SKM party workers at Melli bazaar. The SKM party workers stopped our motorcade at Tare Bhir by blocking the road with a car. Once our motorcade was stopped, our cars were pelted with stones. SKM miscreants physically assaulted some of our party workers, of which one was grievously injured.”

Chamling accused Sikkim Police of being ‘a silent spectator’.

Recalling previous incidents of attacks, he said, “Under SKM, the government machinery has been politicised. “Public know that violence has become a part and parcel of our culture since the formation of the SKM government. This party has anger, and hatred in their hearts lies on their lips, and blood on their hands. If we remain mute spectators, Sikkim will eventually be another ‘Talibanized’ state.”

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