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Sikkim: Opposition Demands ‘President’s Rule’ as Violence Erupts After Ex-CM Chamling’s Return to Assembly

Sikkim Police arrested four persons in three different cases involving alleged stone-pelting on the former Chief Minister’s convoy and alleged assault on Sikkim Democratic Front workers.

As former Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling returned to the state Legislative Assembly on Monday after a three-year exile, violence erupted in multiple locations across state capital Gangtok, the EastMojo reported.

On Tuesday morning, Sikkim Police arrested four persons in three different cases involving alleged stone-pelting on the former Chief Minister’s convoy and alleged assault on Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) workers. The complaints were lodged by SDF members following the violence.

The SDF president returned to the Assembly on the first day of the 6th session of the 10th Assembly. It was the Budget Session of 2022-23.  The House was adjourned for the day after observing two minutes of silence on the passing away of former chief minister B B Gooroong.

Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) president Pawan Chamling had told The Telegraph that he would attend the Assembly session after three years as he felt that democracy was being abused by the Sikkim Krantikari Morchaon (SKM) government. Chamling, the Namchi-Singhithang legislator, was Sikkim’s CM for 25 years.

Chamling’s supporters claimed that as he exited the Assembly, someone threw a stone at his vehicle. However, the stone allegedly missed his convoy and hit a taxi nearby, the EastMojo reported.

The SDF alleged that a person called Navin Pradhan, who is also known as Nabbey, was the stone pelter. Following this, many of the party supporters, including former ministers of the SDF government, took out a protest march towards the Sadar Police Station. They reportedly intended to register an FIR against the alleged stone pelter.

However, en route the police station, clashes allegedly broke out in which three party workers were seriously injured and later hospitalised, the SDF said. According to the report, Chamling visited the STNM Hospital later in the day to see the injured persons. 

After his hospital visit, Chamling, along with former MP Prem Das Rai and others met with Sikkim Governor Ganga Prasad to submit a memorandum detailing the incidents of alleged violence against the former CM and SDF party workers in the past and on Monday, the report said.

Stepping out of the Raj Bhawan, the SDF president addressed the media, demanding President’s Rule in Sikkim. He was quoted by EastMojo as saying, “The acts of violence were to deter me from entering the Assembly. The incidences of today and in the past prove that law and order have failed in Sikkim. There is no government, no security for people’s lives and properties. I was attacked merely 200 metres away from the Legislative Assembly.” The former CM went on to allege, “When our party workers tried to reach the police station, they had to clash with SKM supporters carrying pistols, knives exhibiting them even to the Police. In such a situation, even the police were helpless. The SKM leaders were in MG Marg all day to coordinate these attacks.” 

Chamling claimed that they briefed the governor on the alleged lack of law and order and demanded imposition of President’s Rule in the state. He added that there was “no moral ground” for the SKM to stay in power in view of the “present situation and past attacks”. He said that the SDF was waiting for the Governor’s decision, according to the report. 

Despite expressing concerns over the environment inside the state Assembly, Chamling said he would attend the remaining session of the Assembly. Nonetheless, he did not demand demanding security for himself, saying, “it is the prime duty of the government to ensure the security of its people and their properties.” 

The ruling SKM dismissed the claims made by Chamling. The Press Secretary to the Chief Minister, Bikash Basnet, in a press statement termed the incidents of violence as ‘political conspiracy.’ The statemenr alleged that “Chamling attended Assembly over fears of losing his membership. Political violence and vandalism is deeply rooted in SDF. It is an old habit of the SDF to hire goons to smash vehicles and pass the blame to others.” It further alleged that there was a conspiracy to blame SKM government for “such pre-meditated acts of disturbance.”

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