Normal life came to a standstill during the 12-hour-long bandh in the state on Wednesday called by JAC to protest Supreme Court verdict labelling Sikkimese-Nepaleese “foreigners”.
The bandh call, given by Joint Action Council (JAC) to protest dilution of “Sikkimese” definition in a recent Supreme Court judgment, evoked a good response.
The dawn to dusk bandh from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., which was also supported by the ruling SKM and opposition SDF, was peaceful with no reports of violence in any part of the State.
“This bandh is not against the State government, the Central government, any political party and not against any community. It is for the people of Sikkim,” said JAC president Shanta Pradhan.
All commercial establishments, banks, educational institutions and government offices were closed across the State. Volunteers from JAC were seen picketing along the roads. Adequate police force had been deployed in town areas and highways.
Only vehicles of security forces, police and medical services were seen plying on the roads.
Exceptions to the bandh include all emergency establishments and essential services including hospitals, medical stores and people attending to personal emergencies.
Bandhs are rare in Sikkim but presently there is widespread discontent among the majority Sikkimese Nepali speaking community after the Supreme Court referred them as persons of “foreign origin” in its verdict of January 31 over a petition filed by Association of Old Settlers of Sikkim.
The JAC has representatives from various sections of the Sikkimese civil society and in the past few days, has been leading a people’s campaign through rallies against the “objectionable” references in the Supreme Court judgment. It is demanding that the ‘foreigner’ references in the court’s observations are expunged and the ‘Sikkimese’ definition is restored.