Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 27 said the identity of Sikkimese people is intact as the Supreme Court has expunged its remark that they are Nepali migrants.
Nothing has changed about the identity as well as the rights and privileges enjoyed by the Sikkimese people, Sitharaman, who is on a four-day visit to the state said.
She referred to the apex court's ruling of January 13 which termed the Sikkimese people as Nepali migrants while extending income tax exemption to the old settlers in the northeastern state and said that the central government had swung into action after coming to know of it and approached the apex court with a prayer to expunge the remarks.
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The matter, if any, has been dealt with by the Centre, she said. "The identity of the Sikkimese people is intact as nothing has changed in this regard as the matter has been dealt with decisively by the Government of India," Sitharaman said in reply to a specific question. "It was always the intent of the central government to respect and protect the rights and privileges of the Sikkimese people," she said.
The SC comment had created a massive controversy in the state with the ruling and opposition parties as well as civil societies closing ranks to stage protests demanding the expunction of the remarks. Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang had rushed to New Delhi seeking the Centre's urgent intervention to resolve the matter.
A review petition was filed in the apex court, which then agreed to remove the contentious remarks. The union finance minister, who arrived in Sikkim on Monday, said that her visit is part of her ministry's outreach programme to exchange ideas with various stakeholders in the state on the union budget for 2023-24.
"We are carrying out post-budget interactions across the country over the past four-five years to find out how the budget has been perceived by various stakeholders in the states," she said.
The outreach programmes have been "very helpful" in the formulation of budgets in the past as some ideas received from various quarters were carried forward, Sitharaman added.
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