Sikkim: JAC declares rally on April 8, warns of indefinite protest after assembly

Gangtok: The Joint Action Council (JAC) has announced a rally on April 8 in Singtam eyeing the April 10 special Assembly session called by Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay on the recent Lok Sabha Bill seeking amendment in Section 10 (26AAA) of Income Tax Act 1961.

JAC at a press conference in Gangtok urged for reinforcement of the ‘Sikkimese’ definition as per the 8th May 1973 tripartite agreement as any other explanation to be “unacceptable”. They also warned to hit the streets in protest if the special Sikkim Legislative Assembly proposed on April 10 does not endorse the larger sentiment of Sikkimese people.

JAC demanded the special Assembly session should consider the four resolutions adopted during the all-party meeting held by the council earlier this year.

If our demands are not addressed during the April 10 Assembly special session, JAC will hit the streets for an indefinite protest movement from the next day. This is not our desire but our compulsion to protect the Sikkimese identity. The Sikkimese definition in the 8th May agreement should remain as it is without any distortion,” said the JAC executives.

The JAC informed about the amendment in Section 10 (26AAA) of the Income Tax Act 1961 wherein the old settlers and their descendants have been included in the ‘Sikkimese’ definition as eligible for income tax exemption. The amendment had been passed in the Lok Sabha on March 24 under Union Finance Bill 2023.

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JAC maintained that identity and rights are either completely protected or violated. “There is no in-between when it comes to rights and identity, our ‘Sikkimese’ identity has been attacked by the amendment. Some sections are saying that it is only related to income tax exemption but it is a fact that our identity as ‘Sikkimese’ has been violated,” said Duk Nath Nepal of JAC.

“We demand that the Sikkimese definition should be as per the definition listed in the tripartite agreement of 8th May 1973 agreement. The tripartite agreement between the Chogyal, political parties and the Government of India clearly defines who the Sikkimese are and this should be kept intact during the special Assembly session. Any other definition is invalid and unacceptable. The special Assembly session should also condemn the distortion of Sikkimese definition in the Finance Bill,” said the JAC.

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