Monday, May 09, 2011

All About Guards Ground at Tathangchen, Gangtok

Guards Ground, located at Tathangchen, near West Point Sr. Sec. School has became an important venues for most of the activities that are being held in the capital these days. Right from the morning till evening, this playground is full with boys and girls indulging themselves in different sports. It is also a venue for organizing different Fair and Exhibitions. But has anyone tried to find out why is it called by the name Guards Ground? Most of the people from Sikkim are well acquainted with the fact where this name comes from. But still many are unaware of the origin of the name.
The Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal seen here with his eldest son
The story dates back to the time when there used to be a Chogyal or Monarch system in Sikkim. Sikkim used to be an independent kingdom. Right above the Ground, there is a “Palace” which used to be residence of the then king of Sikkim and the Guard Ground used to be a camp where Royal Guards of Chogyals used to reside. The building of West Point School used to be different Administrative Section of the then Royal Guards. Since the last decade of the 19th century, mass immigration of Nepalese to Sikkim started on the one hand and Landlordism, Kazism and Thekedarism were introduced at the cost of Nepalese on the other hand. The common people in general were subjected to various feudal practices which were oppressive and exploitative. In order to raise voice against these practices, different political parties united to form one party and were named as Sikkim State Congress in the year 1947. The new party decided to throw autocratic rule and placed before king the various demands, merger of Sikkim into Indian Union being one of the important. To counter Sikkim State Congress, Prince Palden Thondup Namgyal opened a new party known as National Party. In 1949, Sikkim State Congress launched “No Rent Campaign” and asked the peasants not to pay unjust rents to their Zamindars. The Durbar ordered the imprisonment of many of the party workers. The party in the same year adopted the Gandhian Technique of Satyagraha and launched it with the full participation of people from far flung areas. The growing popularity of the party let the durbar to invite them to form its ministry. A five member ministry under the Chief Ministership of Tashi Tshering was formed but the conflict over the issue of power began between the Durbar and the Ministry and it was dismissed by the then Political Officer stationed in Sikkim under the menace of using Indian Army and thus Dewan rule was imposed in Sikkim.
In 1965, Prince Palden Thondup Namgyal ascended the throne after sudden demise of Chogyal Tashi Namgyal but the tug of wars for political power between the Chogyal and the Congress under the presidentship of L.D.Kazi continued. The party placed before Durbar united demands like one vote system, land reforms & administrative changes but when none of these demands were fulfilled, the people rose in revolt against the Palace in 1973. The people burnt the effigy of the Chogyal and demonstrated with black flags and banners. The palace used all the means to suppress the agitated masses but in vain. The revolutionaries captured establishment and took over government administration. Finding no way out, Chogyal turned to India Government for support. On 9th April 1973, agitations were called off. There was a tripartite agreement on 8th May 1973 between the Chogyal, The Sikkim State Congress and the Government of India by which the Chogyal was reduced to titular head and democracy was set up in Sikkim with an elected legislative Assembly on the basis of Adult Franchise. The CRPF marched to the Palace, the Royal Army surrendered and the camp was taken over by the force. Since then, the school building has been a barrack for CRPF. It was in 1979-80, West Point School was shifted to present location from below private taxi stand, present day SPSC office. At present the Guards Ground is looked after by FIFA. Recently the leveling of the ground was carried out, to give it a better shape.

No comments: