Gangtok, 13 August, 2012:
The Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) Party has strongly condemned the charges against it stating that the Party is behind the statement of one Dr. Shiva Kumar Sharma who alleged the Founding Vice Chancellor of Sikkim University (SU), Prof. Mahendra P Lama of dual citizenship.
It may be noted that Dr. Sharma, a resident of Sumbuk had apparently applied for a post in SU and was denied the same. Further, he has alleged that Prof. Mahendra P. Lama has dual citizenship.
A press release issued by the SDF Party states that sections of the media have recently leveled veiled charges that the Sikkim Democratic Front Party and more specifically its President Dr. Pawan Kumar Chamling, are behind the statement of Dr. Shiva Kumar Sharma. “We condemn this writing as both false and mischievous”, it asserts.
Further, the release tracing the history of the ramification of this allegation, mentions, ever since India gained Independence, 64 years ago, the Citizens of this country of Nepali/ Gorkhali ethnicity or descent have been time and again targeted as immigrants. Radical groups have indeed taken up cudgels. They forgot that the community have given their blood for this nation many a time and will continue to do so. This issue comes up again since Shiv Sena MP, Anant Geete gave a statement in the House stating that there are 70 Lakh immigrants from Nepal in India during the debate on the Kokrajhar issue in Parliament on the 8th of August.
However to settle this question we have two major movements in the course of history.
One is the formation of Sikkim as the 22nd State of India in 1975 vide Constitution amendment and insertion of Article 371 F into the constitution of India. A large number of Sikkimese of Nepali ethnicity therefore in one stroke became the citizens of India. The others being Sikkimese of Lepcha ethnicity and Sikkimese of Bhutia ethnicity. There are a few Sikkimese of Business community also. Sikkimese is defined as those who have original Sikkim Subject Registration Number and form. Descendants have the Certificate of Identity (COI).
The other is the demand for Gorkhaland which is in process. More recently the Bimal Gurung led Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) has taken office. Government of India and the West Bengal Government recognizes the legitimate rights of Indians of Nepali/ Gorkhali ethnicity living in the Darjeeling hill districts as well as those extra carved out of the other parts where there is a domination of such people. It is worthwhile to mention here that the Party passed a resolution insisting of the formation of Gorkhaland in Sikkim Legislative Assembly. This is no mean task as such an issue does not even fall under its jurisdiction. However, the Prty’s support for the people of the GTA has been unwavering especially when it comes to the question of the Gorkha identity.
Hence this immigrants issue is a settled one.
However, it will continue to surface time and again because of the Indo Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship signed in 1950. The treaty allows for free movement of goods and people across the two countries and a close collaboration on matters related to defence and foreign affairs. This treaty also granted rights to Nepalese and Indian citizens to reside and work and even obtain citizenship in India and Nepal respectively.
Hence during the Maoist insurgency in Nepal large number of people did emigrate to different parts of the world to find work. Many have come to India as well and are living in India under the aegis of this treaty. This must be the answer whenever this question crops up.
Now the kind of allegation against Dr. Lama which is referred to is not new.
Ex Member of Parliament from Assam, Mani Kumar Subba, has been targeted for his citizenship issue. His case was even handed over to the CBI and is still in the Supreme Court.
Our President and Chief Minister of Sikkim, Dr. Chamling has been at the receiving end of this same kind of allegation. His case has been dismissed by the Delhi High Court. Allegations have been leveled by our own people and that too from Sikkim. In fact his effigy was burned in Siliguri at the behest of these people.
The moot question therefore is where was the Gorkha Parisangh and other Nepali jati organizations when these cases were in full flow? Where were these pious thoughts which now have for Dr. Mahendra Lama?
The release mentions that the allegation that SDF is behind Dr. Sharma is laughable at best.
Dr. Lama assumed the position of the first Vice Chancellor of the Sikkim University thanks to our State Government’s efforts. The State Government’s demand for the Central University and insisting on bringing ‘one of our own’ as its first VC was acquiesced to by the Government of India. However, Dr. Lama failed to read the aspirations of the people of Sikkim. He therefore did not work in the best interests of the Sikkimese people.the Party has no other issues with him, the release adds.
Dr. Sharma a PhD. in his own right and is a responsible member of the Sikkimese community. His allegation is to be dealt with in the same way as other allegations like M.K. Subba or Dr. Chamling have dealt with it in the past.
Likewise, the release underlines that all the fuss about insider outsider is media created and distorted version. The Sikkimese people have given their mandate and that too overwhelmingly to the SDF Party. In the course of the progress and development of Sikkim a large number of job and other economic opportunities have inevitably happened. The demand for skilled and other manpower will always be filled whether from within or from outside the State. Hence when the Party President and Chief Minister raises the concern that most of these opportunities are not being taken up by Sikkimese people he is making a statement which is of deep concern for the people of Sikkim. It is therefore telling the people of Sikkim that they have to work harder to keep these opportunities which is meant for the people of Sikkim within the Sikkimese fold. It does not have to be termed or described as anti outsider people sentiment.
Who will safeguard the interest of the Sikkimese people other than the party which has been given the mandate by the people? It is also the right and duty of every Sikkimese to do this by becoming competent and taking on the responsibility to do so, ends the release.