SIKKIM NEWS: Rare rally against Sikkim govt – Youths protest service extension

SIKKIM NEWS: Rare rally against Sikkim govt – Youths protest service extension – turning the Switzerland of India around, no dialogues before demonstrations ?!!

The rally organised by unemployed youths in Gangtok on Thursday - visually disturbing the peace, tranquility and prestige of Sikkim, maturity now necessary ?!! (Prabin Khaling)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Gangtok, July 22: Protests against Pawan Chamling’s Sikkim Democratic Front rule are few and far between, but today a group representing unemployed youths hit the streets of the state capital against the policy of extending the services of government employees.

Youths under the banner of All Sikkim Educated Self-employed and Unemployed Association took out a rally, shouting slogans against the government. The last protest rally in the state that has a 32-member Assembly without any Opposition was also organised by the same organisation on January 28, 2009. Even the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state is held by the SDF.

About 20 people had taken part in the march last year to protest the imposition of direct income-tax by the Centre on Sikkim. Today, the number of participants swelled to over 100.

Apart from the members of the association, representatives of various other organisations and two political parties also — the Congress and the BJP — took part in the 2km-long procession that started from Deorali and ended at Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal Memorial Park near White Hall.

“The rally has been taken out to protest the practice of the state government giving service extension to government employees at a time when the number of educated unemployed youths in Sikkim is increasing,” association general secretary Navin Kiran Pradhan told journalists after the rally.

“Unemployment is rising every year in Sikkim but the state government is silent on the issue. According to our estimates, there are 40,000 unemployed youths in Sikkim and yet, the government keeps on extending the service of employees, most of whom are senior bureaucrats. The extension is blocking the job prospects of our youths,” said Pradhan.

The general secretary claimed that around 150 government employees had so far received service extension.

“At least one retiring employee gets the service extension every week. Although we had filed questions under the RTI, the government failed to give us a satisfactory response,” said Pradhan.

He also slammed the retiring bureaucrats for lobbying for service extension and thereby “hogging the post and blocking the way for unemployed youth of Sikkim”.

The general secretary warned that the association would resort to other forms of protest like hunger strikes and road blockades if the government continued with the service extension.

“We also want the government to strictly monitor the private sector in Sikkim and ensure good wages for employees there. One of the main reasons for Sikkimese youths queuing up for government jobs is the low salaries in the private companies,” said Pradhan.

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