SIKKIM POLITICAL NEWS: Cong shuns ‘Sikkim’ tag on outsiders – Withdraw notification on residential certificate: Rivals – a move that could be very unconstitutional in a secular India but resentful to the sentiments of the larger population of ethnic Sikkimese ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Gangtok, Nov. 28: The decision of the Sikkim Democratic Front-led government to authorise district administrations to distribute residential certificates has triggered protests with rival Congress accusing the ruling party of trying to establish outsiders as Sikkimese for political gains.
Sikkim Pradesh Congress president Nar Bahadur Bhandari said his party would launch awareness campaigns from December 1 in three districts, except for the least populated North district, to protest the manner of distributing RCs.
Although the government has not yet spelt out the benefits of an RC, the BJP and the Congress have alleged that such certificates will lead to the influx of outsiders. The parties had already submitted a memorandum to the governor, demanding that the notification on the distribution of RCs be withdrawn.
“The state government is trying to give Sikkim Subject Certificate rights to outsiders through residential certificates for political gains. Pawan Chamling has understood that he will not get votes from the real Sikkimese and hence, he is attempting to give rights to outsiders on a par with Bhutias, Lepchas and Nepalis of Sikkimese origin to win the next Assembly elections. It is just a ploy to stay in power and if the Sikkimese janta do not understand this, they will regret in future,” said Bhandari.
In the Himalayan state, those possessing Certificate of Identification — known as Sikkim Subject Certificate during the time of the Chogyals — are considered “Sikkimese” and enjoy special privileges like exemption from Income Tax. The Subject Certificates were last granted before Sikkim merged with India in 1975 and have since been passed from generation to generation as Certificate of Identification.
Earlier this month, the government notified some eligibility criteria under which RCs could be got from the district collectors and additional district collectors concerned.
According to the notification, a person who has established beyond doubt that he or she was a resident of Sikkim as on April 26, 1975, and has been residing here since then is eligible for the certificate. The descendants of such persons are also entitled to RCs.
Such certificate can also be issued to a person if he or she is or was a regular employee of the Sikkim government and is settled therein.
The descendants of such persons are also entitled to get the certificate.
Similarly, persons who are natural or legal descendants of Sikkimese women and are residents of the state since birth, too, can be issued such a certificate.
The final category for eligibility is a person whose spouse is eligible to such a certificate under any of the above mentioned categories and is a citizen of India and a resident of the state.
Residential certificates were issued earlier too but only on specific grounds and there was no format under which one could apply for such certificates. “Earlier such certificates were given to people who needed them to open bank accounts or to apply for passports,” a Sikkim government official said.
The Congress has alleged that the notification would establish the non-Sikkimese as Sikkimese
“Starting from December 1 to 26, we will conduct public meetings at several places in Sikkim to expose the conspiracy of the SDF government. We will tell the people that the residential certificate notification is anti-Sikkimese and in the favour of non-Sikkimese. The notification is establishing the non-Sikkimese as Sikkimese,” said Bhandari.