Even as the opposition party, the Sikkim Democratic Front called for a 48-hour bandh protesting the Supreme Court’s observation on the Sikkimese Nepali community, violence broke out in south Sikkim districts Namchi on Sunday (February 5).
Police said that the supporters of the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) allegedly vandalised an office of the opposition Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF). The incident happened at Damthang Road.
A police team however reached the spot and controlled the situation, officials said, adding that adequate forces were deployed in the area.
On Saturday, the first day of the bandh, the SDF headquarters on Bypass Road was vandalised. Police said they arrested three persons in connection with the vandalism and are searching for the others involved in it.
Those arrested have been booked under IPC section 147 (rioting), police said.
Ten SDF members were also arrested in Gangtok for burning the effigy of Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang. Among those arrested were youth leader Arun Limbu and former minister Tshering Wangdi Lepcha, they said.
Public anger after SC observation
The protests come amid public anger after the Supreme Court (SC) mentioned the Sikkimese Nepali community as immigrants in an observation on January 13, while extending income tax exemption to all old settlers of the state. The Joint Action Committee (JAC) has also called for a Sikkim Bandh on February 8 over the issue.
It appealed that each family sends at least three members to join a rally, which will be held during the bandh, and asked businesses to remain shut.
The SC in its order dated January 13, 2023, had directed the Centre to amend the definition of Sikkimese in Section 10 (26AAA) of the Income Tax Act 1961, for including income tax exemption to all Indian citizens domiciled in Sikkim on or before the merger date of April 26, 1975.
The state government has already filed a review petition in the apex court on the matter.