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CAA protests spread to Sikkim


As the protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Act intensified in other northeastern states, Sikkim also joined the chorus to raise voice against the contentious legislation.

Scores of youths and students of Sikkim Central University on Saturday took out a protest rally against the Act in Gangtok. They also condemned the death of several protesters, including students in Assam, and called for maintaining peace and order in the region.

Sikkim University Students' Association (SUSA) president Mahesh Rai said the protest rally by students was against fellow students being subjected to the harsh treatment by the government and concerned authorities while raising voice against the amended Act in several parts of the country. The SUSA would also submit a memorandum to Union home minister Amit Shah and home ministers of Assam, Tripura and Sikkim.

Expressing concern on the fate of Sikkim's special status under Article 371F of the Constitution, another student added, "Just because it hasn t been implemented in Sikkim does not mean that we should stay quiet. In coming days, Article 371 (F) may also be scraped off because the bill has already been passed in the Parliament. The Citizenship Amendment Act also questions the article," said the student.

Even as Union home minister Amit Shah has assured immunity to Sikkim from the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), political outfits in the State are also apprehensive about its implications on the border State.

While the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) member Indra Hang Subba has already vote against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in the Lok Sabha, parties in Sikkim say the SKM, an ally of the BJP, has done too little to exempt Sikkim from the CAA.

Sikkim Pradesh Congress president Bharat Basnett said CBI is what is needed in Sikkim and not CAB. Basnett had planned a sit-in protest in the capital on Thursday but was, however, denied permission by local authorities.

Meanwhile, former footballer Bhaichung Bhutia, working president of Hamro Sikkim Party has demanded a written commitment from the Central government on the CAA exemption for Sikkim while also seeking the introduction of Inner Line Permit(ILP)system to protect the state from the Central legislation and likely influx into the border State.

"There is confusion in Sikkim with regards to the CAA but to clarify on the same, Sikkim has not been exempted from the purview of the Act. While some of the northeastern states and some regions have been exempted but the list has no mention of Sikkim. The Central government may have given the assurance that Sikkim has been exempted but there is no written assurance of the same and we demand it," said Bhaichung.

Ruling SKM president and Sikkim CM PS Golay has maintained that the CAA will not be applicable in Sikkim. "Sikkim is protected by Article 371F and the State would not be included under this Act," said the chief minister accusing the opposition parties of sensationalising the amended Citizenship Act issue for political gains in Sikkim.

Sikkim BJP president DB Chauhan added that the bill will in no way impact Sikkim and its special Constitutional provisions. "It must be remembered that Sikkim has its own safeguard of old laws and identity under Article 371F of the Constitution which has already been explained by Union home minister Amit Shah during the CAB debate in both the Houses. It solely depends on the state whether to implement the amended citizenship Act or not," said Chauhan. (Agencies)


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