JAC goes ahead with Sikkim bandh

Wednesday, Feb 08, 2023 07:45 [IST]

Last Update: Wednesday, Feb 08, 2023 02:01 [IST]

JAC goes ahead with Sikkim bandh


GANGTOK,: The Joint Action Council (JAC) which has been leading the protests against the Supreme Court’s ‘foreigner’ reference to Sikkimese Nepali community and dilution of ‘Sikkimese’ definition is going ahead with their “peaceful” bandh on February 8 despite the Centre filing a review petition in the apex court.

The JAC had called for a State-wide bandh if State government fails to accept their demands that included filing of review petition in Supreme Court and holding of a special Assembly Session.

The review petition was filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday with Union Home minister Amit Shah committing to a Sikkim delegation that the Centre will protect the special constitutional provisions for Sikkim. The State government has also called for an urgent Assembly session on Thursday on the issue.

Why JAC wants to go ahead with the bandh?

Citing a public demand for shutdown, JAC president Shanta Pradhan said, “Even though the government has assured to fulfil all our demands and the Centre has filed review petition, we can’t stop at this juncture. We had already announced that the bandh will take place on February 8. We have only one day left, we can’t suspend the bandh now. The pamphlets have already been distributed, miking has been done and volunteers mobilised. If we stop at this hour, questions will be raised on our integrity.”

“This bandh is not against State government, the Central government, any political party and not against any community. It is for the people of Sikkim,” Pradhan added.

Pradhan along with advisor Tseten Tashi Bhutia and Passang Sherpa were in the delegation that met Union Home minister Amit Shah in Delhi on Sunday evening.

The shutdown is also meant to send a message in response to the Supreme Court verdict labelling the Sikkimese Nepali community as “immigrants” and dilution of the term “Sikkimese”.

The JAC also reiterated that there will only be a shutdown and no protest rallies.

“This is not a protest rally; it is a solidarity bandh. We appeal people to stay indoors and give their one day for Sikkim,” said Passang Sherpa.

Picketing teams will be deployed at multiple locations on Wednesday. The JAC has also urged people not to get involved in any untoward activity.

The JAC president urged the volunteers not to take law and order into their own hands. “If anyone opposes the bandh, do not participate in any form of violence or abuse. Just tell them it’s all right.”

He added that to not support the bandh called for Sikkim cause is “anti-Sikkim”.

Exceptions to the bandh include all emergency establishments and essential services including hospitals, medical stores and people attending to personal emergencies.

Pradhan said entire Sikkim is supporting the bandh. “Different organisations, political parties and government employees have also announced their support. We are thankful to all.”

Meanwhile, the Association of Old Settlers of Sikkim finally broke their silence and said they “wholeheartedly” support the bandh and stand in solidarity with the ethnic Sikkimese community.

The JAC further added that if the organised sectors including pharmaceutical companies deny wages to their employees for participating in the bandh, they will consider this as “another anti-Sikkim step.”

The vehicles ferrying tourists and passengers to Sikkim have been asked to wait across the Rangpo border till 6 pm when the 12-hour strike will be lifted.

The JAC said they will continue with their programmes even after the bandh. “We are aggrieved Sikkimese citizens. We will do our part, the government will do theirs and so the courts. Sikkimese public should not live in an illusion. We will continue with our activities.”

The Supreme Court on January 13 pronounced its judgment in the 2013 case filed by the Association of Old Settlers of Sikkim seeking IT exemption. The court had ruled in favour of the old settlers, exempting them from paying income tax and calling the differentiation made between them and the other communities discriminatory.

In response to the allegations surfacing against JAC leadership of misleading people, especially after their inconclusive late night meeting regarding the bandh on Monday, the president said: “JAC is only your voice. We are not your leaders, Sikkimese public are the leaders. Give us directions; we are here to follow your advice.”  


Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi