The Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) party celebrated its 31st foundation day with a difference. The party observed ‘Shok Diwas’ instead of the usual ‘Vijay Diwas’ in a show of protest against the recent Supreme Court judgement that has compromised the essence of Sikkimese identity.
The SDF party’s spokesperson, Shiva Kumar Sharma, stated that the party is protesting against the Supreme Court judgment that dilutes Article 371 F and questions the Sikkimese identity. The judgment was delivered on January 13th, 2023 in the case filed by the Association of Old Settlers (AoSS) in 2013.
According to Sharma, the Sikkim government has shown a lackadaisical attitude towards this critical issue, and the judgment has overturned the Sikkim identity embedded in Article 371 F. The judgment has relied solely on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which designated the Sikkimese of Nepali ethnicity as foreigners in the original petition filed by the AoSS. The final submission presented by the AoSS to the Justices clearly shows their position.
Sharma believes that the extreme implications of the judgment are yet to be explained to the people of Sikkim, which is why the SDF party is protesting with ‘Shok Diwas’ in direct opposition to the ‘Vijay Diwas’ held by the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) and organized in association with the AoSS in Singtam on February 20th, 2023.
The SDF party is of the view that the manner in which the state government overlooked the whole process of the case and how the affidavits filed by previous governments were not referred to in the arguments indicates an unholy collusion. In fact, the conditionalities of Article 371 F were never explained, which the learned judges mentioned in the orders delivered on the revised petitions.
The SDF party was formed on March 4th, 1992, by Pawan Chamling, who served as the Chief Minister of Sikkim for five consecutive terms from 1994 to 2019. The party has been advocating for the preservation of Sikkimese identity and culture, and the recent Supreme Court judgment has alarmed the party and its supporters.
The SDF party has also accused the state government of failing to protect the interests of the people of Sikkim and demanded that the government take necessary steps to restore Article 371 F's sanctity.
The ‘Shok Diwas’ organized by the SDF party was a sober affair, with party members and supporters wearing black armbands and lighting candles in remembrance of the Sikkimese identity that has been compromised. The SDF party hopes that their protest will bring the issue to the forefront and that necessary action will be taken to safeguard the unique identity of Sikkim and its people.
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