Monday, May 16, 2011

Sikkim Celebrates 37th State Day Today

Looking Back On 1st State Day events of Sikkim

Friday, May 16,1975, marked the fulfillment of a quarter century long struggle of people of this tiny Himalayan State to become master of their own affairs. It is on this day Sikkim acquired status of full democracy by joining the political, economic and social mainstream of the Indian Union by giving up the three hundred old long feudal traditional monarchy. This day the Tricolour replaced the flag of the erstwhile Chogyal regime and
Mr . B. B. Lal took oath of Office as the first Governor of the 22nd State of the Indian Union.
The most significant feature of the entire popular uprising was that the population, though constituted of various communities and language groups, stood as one to , achieve their goal. Though the people's struggle has been on since the Indian Independence, it gained added momentum during the one-year struggle in 1975. Its culmination was the emergency sessions of the Sikkim Assembly on April 10 when it unanimously adopted the historic resolution for making Sikkim a full- fledged State of the Indian Union. And the referendum on the resolution on April 14 clearly showed what the people wanted. Overwhelmingly they voted in favor of the resolution.

On April 26 both Houses of the Parliament passed the Constitutional Amendment making Sikkim from an associate State to a full-fledged unit of the Indian Union. Eyewitnesses will bear out that these people had staged one of the most peaceful and non-violent revolutions unparalleled in the world history .

The discontentment among masses had been going on since 1970 elections that turned into a mass uprising on March 28, 1973 when Gangtok was rocked by anti-Chogyal riots. Within three days of rioting the joint front of the Sikkim Janata Congress and the National Congress came out with demand of electoral reforms. The agitations were however called off on April 9 when Government of India announced the appointment of Mr.B.S. Das as the Chief Administrative Officer. A day earlier the administration of the territory had been taken over by the Indian Political Officer at the request of the Chogyal.

The Chogyal was reduced to position of a titular head under the historic May 8 tripartite Agreement, 1973 which ultimately provided a new democratic set up with an elected Legislative Assembly on the basis of adult franchise doing away with the communal voting system.

The 32 members Assembly constituted on the basis of elections held on April 15. adopted on June 20 the Government of Sikkim Act, known as Sikkim's Constitution, giving more powers to the elected house. It received Chogyal's assent on July 3.

July 23 1975 was another important day in the history of the State when the first popularly elected Government under the leadership of Mr .Kazi Lhendup Dorji Khangsarpa was installed.

The Union Cabinet at its meeting on August 30 approved the request of the Sikkim Government to provide representation to the State in both houses of Parliament.

The public anger against the ruling dynasty was aggravated by Chogyal's efforts to internationalize the Sikkim issue. His supporters protested to the United Nations Secretary General against India's decision to give associate status to Sikkim. This was followed by a fast chain of developments moulding the history of this tiny State.

The Chogyal visited Katmandu to attend King Birendra's coronation without the approval of the Sikkim Cabinet making it clear that he did not recognize the Kazi Ministry .He also used this visit to propagate his idea of moving the International bodies to seek' separate identity' for Sikkim. This again was not approved by public opinion here. .

The March 4, 1975 incident at Rangpo in which Mr.R.C. Poudyal, MLA and General Secretary of the Sikkim Youth Congress was injured allegedly by erstwhile Sikkim Guards personnel added speed to development that followed.

On the request of the Sikkim Government the Government of India finally disbanded the Sikkim Guards on April 9, 1975.

SIKKIM HERALD -15th August 1975

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