Gangtok, 17 Nov (IPR): “Sikkim Summit for Tribal Status 2018”, a Post Conference Document, was released by Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Pawan Chamling at a function held at Manan Kendra today.
The policy document has been prepared by an expert Committee comprising of intellectuals and Government officers and documents the proceedings of the two-day Tribal Summit held in Gangtok earlier this year along with guest articles. The document is a joint initiative of the Eleven Indigenous Ethnic Communities of Sikkim (EIECOS), an organization of representatives of the 11 communities demanding tribal status, Social Justice Empowerment & Welfare Department and Sikkim Commission for Backward Classes.
Expressing his pleasure at the completion of the book, Chief Minister Shri Chamling said that the book is a vital policy document of the Government and will substantiate the long pending demand of tribal status for the 11 left out ethnic communities of Sikkim. Dedicating the book to the people of Sikkim, Shri Chamling said that now it is a public document and can be used by intellectuals, students and general public to validate their understanding of the subject. He added that the document is a huge step towards the demand for tribal status for the left out 11 communities.
The CM shared that the demand for tribal status to all the communities of Sikkim started as early as 1995 when he placed the demand before the then Prime Minister Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao. He said that the Prime Minister had written an eleven-page reply to the Chief Minister.
“This could possibly be the longest letter written by any Indian Prime Minister to the Chief Minister of a State,” added Shri Chamling in a lighter vein.
He shared with the audience the dates in which he met and placed the demand before subsequent Prime Ministers, Home Ministers, and Union Minister for Tribal Affairs on several occasions and also the President of India on one occasion. He further shared that the Resolution for Tribal Status to left out communities has been passed five times in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly. Further, the demand has been placed before every national forum chaired by the Prime Minister or Union Home Minister. He added that the granting of tribal status to the Limboo and Tamang communities of Sikkim in 2002 gave the Government further hope to pursue the demand for tribal status for the remaining eleven communities.
The CM reiterated that it is well within the provision of Articles 341 and 342 of the Indian Constitution and Special Provisions under 371 F that all the 11 communities should be granted tribal status. He stated that it is the right of the people and every effort should be made to get the tribal status. He urged all the 11 communities to stand united in their opinions and to take pride in their identity as Indian Nepalis. He stated that the contribution of the Nepali community to India is indelible.
He added that historical evidence has proved that Sri Gupta, the first ruler of the Gupta Dynasty had come from Nepal. It was during the Golden Era when the tradition of worshipping Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh began, he shared. It is thus clear that Gupta Dynasty which established the Hindu Dharma had its roots in Nepal, he stated.
He further mentioned the contribution made by Nepalis such as music composer Ram Singh Thakuri and several freedom fighters who have contributed immensely for India. He also mentioned two freedom fighters from Sikkim namely Vandey Pokhrel and Sabitri Lepcha. He informed the gathering that the state government had conferred the LD Kazi Award for Democratic Movement on the occasion of State Day 2018 to late Shri Vandey Pokhrel and also announced for the construction of a statue as a tribute to the freedom fighter.
“Similarly our Government has named the road connecting Namchi Bazaar and Assangthang after Sabitri Lepcha,” said the Chief Minister.
He also recalled the contributions of individuals like Chabilal Upadhyay, Chandan Singh Rawat, Damber Singh Gurung, Mitra Singh Thapa and Amar Singh Thapa. He urged the intellectuals to do serious introspection on the identity and the role of Indian Nepalis to the country.
“There is a certain perception about Indian Nepalis in our country which has to change. We in Sikkim are also looked at in the same way. Thus in order to change that perception of Nepalis in Sikkim, we have to change the way the country perceives Nepalis living in different parts of the country. That is why I have always insisted on having a national level organisation of the Indian Nepalis to unite opinions and feelings,” stated the CM.
Chief Minister Shri Chamling further spoke about the initiatives taken by the Government in establishing the State OBC so that the people of communities of Chettri, Bahun and Newar get every benefit emanating from reservation. He added that the Government through its inclusive policies has been successful in ensuring that no individual is deprived of their right or privilege at least within the State.
The CM explained that tribal status for the 11 left out communities is being pursued on the single and most important premise that all the three communities of Sikkim i.e., Bhutia, Lepcha and Nepali were tribals under the Chogyal regime, validated by the Sikkim Subject Certificate. After 1978, the Nepalis lost their tribal ship and with it, the corresponding rights and privileges. Since then, the demand for restoration of the lost tribal status is being consistently pursued with the Central Government, he added.
“When Sikkim merged with India, an entire country, its people and the land was merged. The people of Sikkim have exhibited great patriotism. The Central Government should reciprocate by restoring the lost tribal status of the remaining eleven communities,” he argued.
Further, the grant of tribal status to the Limboo and Tamang communities of Sikkim from among the Nepali sub-communities in 2002 has given the remaining 11 communities strong hope that their demands would also be met, he added. He appealed to the members of the eleven communities to understand these premises and form strong intellectual opinion around them.
The CM urged all the 11 communities to unite and cooperate with each other during the process of documentation. They should also seek help from the members of the Bhutia and Lepcha communities. Further, he urged the Bhutia Lepcha and Nepalis of Sikkim to work hard and be innovative in their approach. He urged them to be aware of their rights and privileges, and use their knowledge and intellect to become independent and self-reliant.
Chairman, OBC Commission, Shri T.N. Sharma, in his address said that the policy document is a compilation of the opinions of experts who participated in the two-day Summit and guest articles. He acknowledged the contribution of each individual associated with the book. He also mentioned the valuable contribution and support extended towards the initiative by former Governor Shri Shriniwas Patil, Chief Minister Shri Pawan Chamling, MP Lok Sabha Shri P.D. Rai, former Speakers, SLA Shri D.N. Thakarpa and Shri K.T. Gyaltsen, and every member of the expert Committee and guest contributors.
Members of EIECOS also felicitated Chief Minister Shri Chamling for guiding the State towards organic agriculture and bringing international laurels to the State on various occasions, and for his patronage and guidance to the persistent demand for tribal status to the left out communities.
Member of the Expert Committee, Shri Raju Basnet, presented a brief report on the Post Conference Document.
Earlier, Chairman, EIECOS, Dr. S.K. Rai, in his welcome address gave a brief outline of the book and thanked the individuals and organizations for their contribution and support.
The programme concluded with vote of thanks proposed by Secretary, Sikkim Commission for Backward Classes, Shri H.K. Sharma.