Violence Against Keshav Sapkota Sparks Outrage:
Gangtok: The recent incident of the Sikkim Joint Action Council Gen-Secy, Keshav Sapkota being attacked ahead of the planned protest rally has sparked outrage across the state. This incident highlights the need for a safer environment and protest safety for citizens to exercise their democratic rights without fear of violence.
📌 The Joint Action Council (JAC) had planned a protest rally in Singtam, Sikkim, against the expansion of the ‘Sikkimese’ definition in Section 10 (26AAA) of Income Tax Act 1961 under the Finance Bill 2023.
📌 The JAC’s general secretary, Keshav Sapkota, was attacked on Saturday by unidentified miscreants ahead of the protest rally.
📌 The JAC believes that the expansion of the definition is in violation of the tripartite agreement of May 8, 1973, between the then Chogyal, political parties, and the Government of India.
📌 Sapkota sustained head and neck injuries and was referred to the Central Referral Hospital in Gangtok.
📌 Section 144 was imposed in Singtam town, and Sikkim Police deployed to prevent the situation from escalating.
📌 Former legislator Mechung Bhutia’s vehicle was also attacked by miscreants in Singtam town.
📌 Bhaichung Bhutia, President of the Hamro Sikkim Party, alleged “PS Golay goons attacked JAC members as well as other organisations when we came to fight for Sikkim’s identity” and he will organize a sit-in protest inside the police station until their arrest.
📌 The President of the HSP also expressed his disappointment with the Singtam police for refusing to file an FIR and announced a “thana gherao”.
📌 Passang Sherpa, the vice president of JAC and general secretary of Sikkimey Nagarik Samaj, officially resigned from the Inner Line Permit (ILP) committee in protest of the Singtam incident.
📌 The State BJP President visited Raj Bhawan to discuss the recent attack on the JAC rally and its General Secretary in Singtam, expressing concerns over the growing sense of insecurity among the people in Sikkim.
📌 Sikkim BJP President and party representatives met JAC General Secretary Keshav Sapkota to understand his health condition and wish him a speedy recovery.
📌 HSP President Bhaichung Bhutia and SDF President Pawan Chamling also visited Keshav Sapkota at CRH Manipal Hospital to check his well-being.
📌 The victim, Keshav Sapkota, has been sent to CRH, Manipal for further medical treatment, and he is still admitted there.
📌 A written FIR has been received from a member of the Joint Action Committee, and a case has been registered against unknown persons.
📌 The Journalist Union of Sikkim (JUS) has strongly condemned the violence that broke out at Singtam.
📌 15 persons have been arrested by police for their involvement in the violence at Singtam on April 8.
Alleged persons arrested:
1) Suresh Tamang
2) Uttam Pradhan
4) Prakash Pradhan
5) Jullet Subba
6) Phula Bhutia
7) Chandra Kumar Sharma
8) Nikhil Rai
9) Sanjiv Kr. Gurung
10) Suman Tamang
11) Lha Tshering Bhutia
12) Mantosh Subba
13) Ongdup Gyatsho Lepcha
14) Shayog Tamang
15) Kedarnath Tiwari
📝 Brief Overview: JAC’s general secretary was attacked ahead of a protest rally against the expansion of the ‘Sikkimese’ definition in the Income Tax Act. Sapkota sustained injuries and was referred to the Central Referral Hospital. Former legislator Mechung Bhutia’s vehicle was also attacked. The JAC demands that the Sikkimese term be defined as per the old laws under Article 371F.
The Attack on Sikkim Joint Action Council Gen-Secy
On April 8th, 2023, the General Secretary of the Sikkim Joint Action Council was attacked ahead of the planned protest rally. According to Sikkim Express, “We have apprehended three individuals who were involved in the assault of Keshav Sapkota, General Secretary JAC. We are actively searching for others involved in the altercation”, says SP Gangtok, Tenzing Loden Lepcha on the violence that occurred at Singtam bridge.
Background of the Sikkim Joint Action Council
The Joint Action Council (JAC) of Sikkim was formed in 1973 and played a socio-political role in Sikkim. The JAC has been protesting against the expansion of the ‘Sikkimese’ definition in Section 10 (26AAA) of Income Tax Act 1961 under the Finance Bill 2023. According to JAC, this expansion of the definition is in violation of the tripartite agreement of May 8, 1973, between the then Chogyal, political parties, and the Government of India.
Need for Safer Environment for Democratic Protests
The recent attack on the General Secretary of the Sikkim Joint Action Council highlights the need for a safer environment for democratic protests. It is essential that citizens can exercise their democratic rights without fear of violence. This incident is not an isolated one, and the trend of violence against peaceful protesters in India is worrying. It is crucial that the government takes immediate steps to address this issue and provide citizens with the necessary security to exercise their democratic rights.
We hope that this article has raised awareness about this issue and will lead to the necessary changes to ensure a safer and more secure future for all citizens.
Gangtokian Web Team, 10/04/23