GANGTOK: A section of Sikkimese citizens staged a protest on Sunday in response to the recent protest by two Bihari residents at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi opposing Article 371F in Sikkim.
The rally that began from Amdo Golai, culminated at the District Administrative Centre. Social activist Passang Sherpa also took part in the rally along with some concerned citizens.
Speaking at the rally, Sherpa said, “Those two who protested against Article 371F at Jantar Mantar are anti-national because if anything happens to Article 371F, the status of Sikkim will be that of an associate state and not a full-fledged one. These two persons are igniting anti-national sentiments. This has caused a lot of apprehension among the Sikkimese people. Our protest today is to inform both the central and the state governments that the people of Sikkim will not tolerate any kind of aggression on Article 371F. This protest has been jointly organised by Sikkimese individuals, not by any political party or organisation.”
Sherpa added, “This is a symbolic protest not just against those two individuals, but anyone who has not understood the sense of Article 371F. They need to understand that Article 371F is a covenant. This is an agreement between the Government of India and the people of Sikkim, when Sikkim became a part of India on May 16, 1975. As per the 8th May Agreement of 1973, Article 371F was made. It is the protection of the political, economic, and social rights of the Sikkimese people.”
Sherpa appreciated the Bihari community’s condemnation of the Jantar Mantar protestors. “The condemnation carried out by different Bihari organisations is a welcome step. Be it Bihari or Sikkkmese, Nepali, Bhutia, or Lepcha communities, we all live in harmony in Sikkim. These two people tried to ignite disharmony amongst us and since they belong to Bihar, apprehension among people was obvious.”
Different Bihari organisations had come forward and distanced themselves from the two protestors, condemning the act.
“People have different opinions about Article 371F. If we do not speak about it today, it might fuel up the issue and more people could join them. Any dilution or any infringement to the Article 371F will take Sikkim to the post-merger period. Since our representatives and government are mute, the responsibility is on people like us to come forward and at least clarify our stand.”
Speaking on Sikkim Police’s appeal to the people to not react to the Jantar Mantar protests, Sherpa said, “They should stick to law and order and not get involved in the political rights of the people. To protest against anything is within the democratic domain, it is well-defined in the Constitution of India, they should not tell people what to do and what not to do.”
Sherpa and the protestors extended support to Hamro Sikkim Party’s Bhaichung Bhutia and Sikkim Suraksha Samiti who have declared a protest in the coming days.
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