Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling on Sunday demanded urgent intervention of the Centre for early settlement of the Gorkhaland issue to safeguard the interest of Sikkim. He said in case the issue was not addressed on priority basis, the Sikkim government might approach the apex court of India.
“I seek urgent intervention of Government of India and all the authorities concerned for early settlement of the situation to safeguard the interest of Sikkim from these hazards and constraints on priority,” Chamling said through a press statement issued by the Information and Public Relations department of the state. “In case of not addressing this issue on priority, the state government may have to approach the apex court of India in the larger interest of Sikkimese people for justice,” the statement said.
Stating that the inter-state ramifications of the Gorkhaland agitation and treating it “merely as a West Bengal issue” was not adequate, the chief minister noted that the present situation in Darjeeling Hills has had a direct impact on life of the people of Sikkim and that this issue must be looked into with utmost seriousness. “Sikkim’s geographical location having international boundaries with three countries – China in the North, Bhutan in the East and Nepal in the West, and the potential threat to the national security is a matter of supreme importance,” the statement said.
“The only access to the rest of the country is through the state of West Bengal. Sikkim is sandwiched due to the agitation and prevailing law and order situation. As far as the national security is concerned, Government of India is appropriately handling the matter. We fully support Government of India’s effort, which is addressing the national security in the best interest of our country,” the statement said.
The Sikkim Chief Minister also said that the law and order being a matter of the government of West Bengal, the loss and misery suffered by Sikkim could have been avoided. “The Gorkhaland agitation-related anguish of Sikkim is as old as the agitation itself. Sikkim bound vehicles have been targeted by fringe groups in Siliguri,” it said. “Trucks carrying essential goods, commodities and petroleum products are being ransacked right in the presence of the West Bengal Police, and it has been learnt that in some cases, the West Bengal police itself is overseeing the situation,” it said.
The statement also said that people in need of immediate advanced medical care were affected. In addition, the economic development of Sikkim has also been affected. The CM’s statement also said that due to the unrest in the neighbouring state of Bengal, “Sikkim has already borne the loss of over Rs 60,000 crore.” “In the agitation related violence on NH10, Sikkim’s only road link with the rest of the nation, over 5,000 vehicles have been vandalised and around 1,300 people (drivers and passengers) killed in the last 32 years of Gorkhaland agitation,” it said.
Fresh violence erupted in Darjeeling hills on Saturday prompting the West Bengal government to call the Army back on the streets as Gorkhaland supporters torched a police outpost, a toy train station and clashed with the police. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), spearheading the agitation for a separate state carved out of West Bengal, claimed that two youths were killed in police firing and rejected West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s offer of talks.