Finance ministry’s clarification a cover-up, ‘Sikkimese’ redefinition a direct attack on Art 371F: Bhaichung

Thursday, Apr 06, 2023 08:45 [IST]

Last Update: Thursday, Apr 06, 2023 03:07 [IST]

Finance ministry’s clarification a cover-up, ‘Sikkimese’ redefinition a direct attack on Art 371F: Bhaichung

GANGTOK,: Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP) president Bhaichung Bhutia has dismissed the clarification of the Finance ministry who had stated that the ‘Sikkimese’ definition in the amended Income Tax Act 1961 is only for the purpose of income tax and not for any other purpose. We condemn it and strongly believe that this clarification is nothing but a cover-up and a sham, he said in a press statement Wednesday.
“The double-engine Sarkar of BJP and SKM think that the people of Sikkim are innocent and we will be able to fool them with sham clarifications. The State BJP chief says that the “Center will address our concerns”. He accepted that the “Sikkimese definition has been distorted”. On the other hand, the Central BJP and the SKM are saying “all is well”, when all is well then why did the Chief Minister of Sikkim visit Delhi and meet the Finance minister in the first place? Which concerns on “Sikkimese definition” the Centre will address?” questioned Bhaichung.
Bhaichung asserted that the expansion of the ‘Sikkimese’ definition for the purpose of income tax exemption has opened Pandora's Box for “so many other things in the future”. This is a direct attack on Article 371F, which has been enshrined in the Indian Constitution to protect the unique identity and culture of the people of Sikkim, he said.
“With this expanded definition, non-Sikkimese staying outside Sikkim with their roots in Sikkim before 1975 will be encouraged to shift to Sikkim for income tax benefits, which will change the already changing demography of Sikkim. Later, citing the new Sikkimese definition in the Income Tax Act as grounds, they will demand similar exemptions in government jobs, land ownership rights, and many more,” said the HSP president.
“We demand that the Central government respect the rights of the people of Sikkim and uphold Article 371F, which is a constitutional guarantee to protect the identity and culture of the people of Sikkim. We call upon the people of Sikkim to unite and stand up against this blatant attack on our identity and culture. We also urge the Central government to engage with the people of Sikkim and to seek their consent before making any changes to the status quo,” said Bhaichung.

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