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Thursday, Jan 23, 2020 13:00 [IST]

Last Update: Thursday, Jan 23, 2020 07:29 [IST]

SIKKIM :2020

371 F: Under the shadow of CAA,NPR, NRC

The latest Citizenship Amendment Act 2019(CAA),National Population Register(NPR) National Register of Citizens(NRC) and the National Register of Indian Citizens(NRIC) map of India ,surprisingly denotes Sikkim standing along with  West Bengal, Kerala, Pondicherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha that opposes the enactment of the now impugned citizenship amendment act 2019, which came into w. e.f. 10th Jan. 2020. This positioning of Sikkim has been misconstrued nationally as the ground realities of Sikkim is completely different here in ground zero. Firstly, the nation must have taken the hint from the opposing similar statements made by both members of the Parliament from Sikkim in the lok Sabha on 9th Dec. and Rajya Sabha on 11th Dec. 2019, that w.r.t. the state of Sikkim, the CAB 2019 has to be read with The Sikkim Subject Regulation Act 1961 one of the old laws of Sikkim enshrined under Article 371-F, as through the amendment of this act the Sikkimese people were granted the Indian citizenship in 1975 which remains  sacrosanct as it protects the citizenship of Sikkimese Indians. Thus the CAB 2019 dilutes 371F as Sikkim remains unprotected and the ILP system needs to be extended to the state of Sikkim as done to the state of Manipur, the MPs had submitted.
The argumentive  grounds were led  strongly by both the Sikkim MPs which required immediate follow up by the Govt. of Sikkim, but sadly even after one and half month such an important issue has been  left sine die. Secondly, all the opposition political parties, NGOs and various forums have come together on one united platform as the, “Sikkim Against Citizenship Amendment Act”(SACAA) and opposed the CAA-2019 tooth and nail along with the repeated volte face of  the  govt. of Sikkim    that the CAA would not be implemented in Sikkim. All these political developments were in the heat of the moment which caught the nation’s attention till mid December 2019, after which and as of now, Sikkim under the severe grip of its coldest winter months amidst extended festive holidays into the new year a usual travel time season thus all the cacophony, rattling of CAA NRC NPR is in deep freeze here in Sikkim.
Political hara kiri: Sikkim on the 31st Nov. and 1st Dec.2019 had already missed the  important meeting chaired by the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah on the CAB scheduled at New Delhi, especially to hear and include the inputs of the north-eastern state stakeholders before the approval of the union cabinet for tabling the CAB  in the Lok Sabha on 9th Dec. 2019.  The disingenuous and political hara kiri  continues, as still  almost a month and half has elapsed yet Sikkim fails to generate the consensus support of all the political parties NGOs civil societies and other prominent forums to convene the special session of the Sikkim Legislative assembly(SLA)on priority as the CAA is anticipated to have far reaching demographic complication consequences for the state of Sikkim. The SKM Govt. could have easily relied on the lifeline given by the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah during the parliamentary debate when he said that the CAB  w.r.t. Sikkim, has to be approved by the SLA. Judging by the national scenario and sentiment unfolding post CAA,  it can be inferred that there is every possibility that the CAA  could be revisited again by the Govt. of India convening special session of the Parliament anytime soon.
CAA-abetment of 371F :  Constitutionally, it is pertinent to state that no single provisions of Article 371F restrain the implementation  of CAA in the state of Sikkim as 371F is silent on the issue of citizenship as are other special provision like 371A, 371G and 371H etc. Hence in view of the forgoing facts the Govt. of Sikkim could have presentation a memorandum to union of India for insertion of specific clause in the said act which could have restrained the implication of CAA in the state of Sikkim. Alternatively and parallely,the Govt. of Sikkim would have evoked “The Sikkim Work Permit Rules 1965”  one of the old laws of Sikkim, whose provision are similar to the existing ILP norms. Hence after  legal vetting, the Sikkim work permit rule 1965 could have been amended and passed by the SLA then approved by the Governor of Sikkim than forwarded to the Govt. of India for enactment under the ILP norms. Further, both members  of the parliament could have moved an amendment in the provision within the CAA for exempting the implementation of the said act in the state of Sikkim. It is to bring notice that the extension of CAA will have cascading ramification in the old laws protected under 371F as for example any Bangladeshi/Pakistani/Afghanistani (persecuted minorities group) residing in Sikkim for 5 years continuously is entitled to acquire Indian Citizenship which further signifies he or she to be a domicile of state of Sikkim. It would be the responsibility of the Govt. of Sikkim to give livelihood to those Bangladeshi/Pakistani/Afghanistani (persecuted minorities group) after acquiring the Indian citizenship in Sikkim under CAA. In view of the forgoing concern, it can be conclusively inferred that those  Bangladeshi/Pakistani/Afghanistani (persecuted minorities) acquired Indian Citizenship from the territory of Sikkim is entitled to get the government  jobs in Sikkim, which is a blatant abrogation of the rule 4/4 the old law of Sikkim. It is also pertinent to mention that those  Bangladeshi/Pakistani/Afghanistani (persecuted minorities) who acquire citizenship are fully entitled to acquire any land property which is abrogation of the old laws of Sikkim that is the revenue order no. 1. It is ironic to state that those Bangladeshi/Pakistani/Afghanistani (persecuted minorities) acquired Indian Citizenship within the territory of Sikkim will have the political right in the state of Sikkim as no provision in the Representation of the Peoples Act  1950&51 will restrict them to contest election from any unreserved constituencies of Sikkim and become Chief Minister of Sikkim. It is pertinent to state that there is high apprehension that more than 50 million persecuted minorities  from Bangladesh Pakistan and Afghanistan are to migrate to different territories  of the union of India with a view to take immunity from CAA, which will have serious ramification in the demography of India. It is well known to everyone that  Bangladesh is near to Sikkim and even a population five thousand to ten thousand Bangladeshi (persecuted minorities) will bring a catastrophic demographic imbalances in a small state like Sikkim.
ILP & status of Sikkim vis-a-vis  North Eastern Eegion: The North Eastern Area(reorganization ) act, 1971, act no 81of 1971 dated 30th December 1971 established the state of Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh by the reorganization of the existing state of Assam which historically and geographically was designated as the Assam Provision(1912-1947) and North-East Frontier(1874-1905) except for the state of Nagaland which was established in 1st December 1963 and the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation enforced in the Naga Hills( present Nagaland) to protect and safeguard  the identity and existence of the indigenous people of Nagaland. Simultaneously, The Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873 was also regulated for the governance of certain district of the eastern frontier of Bengal, on the 27th of August 1873, to prohibit all the citizens of India  or any class of any such citizens or any person, to go beyond, “ The Inner Line”(Inner Line permit) which otherwise became a penal offence if violated. Hence, the Inner Line Permit continues its origin till today from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873 in  most of the north eastern state except Sikkim  though the condition and restriction of ILP varied from state to state .
Case of Manipur:The state of Manipur had an ILP system prior to its merger with India in 1951, but fearing the demographic imbalance in the year 2015, the Manipur Assembly passed the resolution to implement the ILP through the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrants Workers Bill 2015, but was later withdrawn as it was felt that the bill failed to safeguard the interest of the indigenous people. Subsequently, violence erupted and many lives were lost, houses of MPs, Ministers and MLs were torched by the villagers. Hence, again in the year 2018, the Manipur assembly passed the Manipur People’s Protection Bill 2018 which seek to regulate the entry and exit of non Manipuris into the state with 1951 as it cut off year which was waiting the assent of the president of India and thus in pursuance of this bill the CAA 2019 exempted the state of Manipur and reintroduced the ILP system.
Arunachal Pradesh,  Post CAA 2019, the entire geographical area of the state of Arunachal Pradesh has been exempted from the purview of the CAA it is protected by the Inner line permit system existence since 1873 yet the Arunachal Pradesh Govt. has petitioned the Supreme Court on the ground that the 73,780 Chakmas(Buddhist) and Hajongs(Hindu) refugees settled in the state are to be denied citizenship rights   w.r.t. the provisions of  CAA 2019. The Chakmas and Hajongs were repatriated to India from Bangladesh 50 years ago.
Meghalaya   The 97% geographical area of the state of Meghalaya under the sixth schedule status covered by the autonomous tribal district of Khasi, Jantia and Garo have been exempted from the purview of CAA 2019 but still the Conrad Sangma, (Chief Minister) led Govt. under tremendous public pressure post CAA has enacted the Meghalaya Residents safety and Security Act 2019 to check the illegal migrants in the state and also to bring the entire geographical area under the purview of ILP system. After getting the approval of the Governor of Meghalaya, the bill has been forwarded to the Govt. of India as of now.  It is to be noted that  the state of Meghalaya is not covered under any special provision of the constitution like Sikkim, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh. Thus, the state of Sikkim vis-à-vis the other north east states has to be viewed comprehended and respected on a different plane .Majestically, it is the only sovereign nation which became the 22nd state of the Indian union on the backdrop of many historical treaties and agreements. Hence, Sikkim can’t be misconstrued and omission and commission made against it which are uncalled for. Thus  the Bengal eastern Frontier Regulation 1873 can’t be the only axiom for implementation of “The Inner Line” system, other  geo-political criteria should also be binding w.r.t. the sovereignty and security of India.
The History of census & NRC, NPR, NRIC in Sikkim: The history of  census operation in Sikkim started in 1891 and the census of Sikkim was enumerated along with the census of India under the guidance of the census authority till 1961. However, the Govt. of Sikkim enumerated the first census of Sikkim in 1971 and subsequently the Govt. of Sikkim backed by one notification of 1963, reconstituted  Namchi tehsil into Gyalzing district(west) and Namchi district(south) and similarly the Gangtok tehsil was split up as Gangtok district(East) and Mangan district(north) and the boundaries of the four districts were again redefined again in 1971.Further in respect of the notification of 1969, seven bazaars namely Gangtok(13,303): Singtam (1,926): Rangpo(1,783): Mangan(337):Gyalzing(445):Jorethang& Nayabazar(1,413) :Namchi(460) were designted as  the important marketing centers. The bracketed figure shows the population of the respective bazaars as per the census of 1971. The first census of Sikkim in 1971 enumerated the total population of Sikkim to be 2,09,843 with contents of (1) Town directory indicating the details of civic and amenities(2) Village directory/Block Panchayat directory (3) Primary census abstract  enumerating the district wise and block Panchayat wise enumeration of population areas  live stocks and forestry details etc. A senior officer of the Govt. of Sikkim was appointed as the Director of census operation in Sikkim in addition to his own duties. Post Sikkim becoming the 22nd state of India in 1975, the census act 1948 has been enforced in the state of Sikkim and thus the census operation of 2020-21 will be its 16th edition of the Census act 1948 that will record socio-economic informations and  population parameters under different heads by the Registrar General of India.
 NPR IN SIKKIM: The Ministry of Home Affairs, GOI stated that the creation of the National Population Register(NPR) is the flagship national program  with respect to national security as well as developmental initiative and is also a statutory requirement of usual residents under the census act 1948 which stipulate that all such data enumerated under the NPR verification has to be authenticated in the the presence of designated Govt. servant for the assurance of its veracity. In Sikkim, the NPR data has been compiled in the first phase in 2010 by the Director of census operation, under the Registrar General of India, since concerns have been raised regarding the authentication procedure consensus couldn’t be reached regarding the base data of NPR in Sikkim. However, against the backdrop of the ongoing nationwide protest against CAA, NRC & NPR, post the enactment of the CAA, the R.G.I.Govt. of India, fails to lay a clear cut  guidelines w.r.t. the house listing and house census from April to September 2020 and the population enumeration from Feb. 9th to Feb. 28th ,2021. However, in its trial form collected last year showed 21 parameters, seeking specific details on the place of birth of father and mother, last place of residence, Aadhar/Voter ID card/Mobile Phone/Driving license number information details .Speculations are there that the new NPR form may collect information on “mother tongue”as well.  Nationally, on a petition filed by NGO Minority Front, in the Supreme court, which questioned the need to prepare an NPR if the NRC has to be aborted, the apex court has asked the Union of India to  respond to the query.
NRIC in Sikkim: The National Register of Indian Citizens(NRIC) established and maintained by the Registrar General of Citizen Registration under the R.G.I. Govt. of India, using the NPR as the base data.The NPR datas are scrutinized by the Local Registrar after particulars of all the doubtful citizens with appropriate remarks are entered in the NPR with  further enquiry rounds of claims and objections allowed to be  made followed   by the publication and updation of the draft by the Local Registrar for objection inclusion of names corrections etc.   before the  entries in the Local Registrar of Indian citizens are made which are then finally forwarded to be entered in the National Register of Indian Citizens(NRIC).The R.G.I. Govt. of India is the sole authority responsible for framing the rules and procedures to be followed in the preparation of the NRIC and also for its maintenance and updation in electronic or any other formats w.r.t. the Registration of Birth & Deaths Act, 1969. As of now the NRIC too has not been finalized  due to the inconclusive results of the NPR w.r.t the state of Sikkim, the RGI states.
NRC in Sikkim : At best, the National Register of Citizenship(NRC) can be correlated with the NRC-Assam, as Assam is the only state in India where NRC has been updated with 24th march, 1971 as the cutoff date to include the names of genuine Indian citizens. The NRC-Assam, is an outcome of the Assam accord signed between the then Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi and the students leaders of Assam in 1985 in the culmination of the Assam agitation against illegal immigrants which had started in 1979. The accord led to the amendment in the Citizenship Act 1955(Parent act) with the insertion of clause 6(A): special provision as to citizenship of the persons covered by the Assam accord. Thus, subsequently in 2015, a three judge bench of the supreme court hearing a PIL filed by the NGO, Assam Public Works initiated the updation of the entire work of NRC-Assam as per the  provision of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship(Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Card)Rrules 2003, which declared 19,06,657 persons out of the total population of 3.29 crores to be stateless in  Assam. Thus till date, The Govt. of India  has not notified any set of rule and regulation for conducting NRC in rest of India. However, the NRC, nationally can be best be correlated to the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship(Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Card) Rules 2003 to its rule 13  which states that the R.G.I. as reference to the particulars entered in the NRIC  as per  sub rule (3) of rule 3 that has 12 identification particulars inclusive of individual name,fathers name, mother name, sex, DOB, place of birth, residential address, martial status ,visible identification marks, date of registration of citizen, serial no of registration and national identity number through which the national identity card can be issued. However,even though, the NRC objective is to issue National Identity card as Citizenship is a union subject yet  NRC will be subjected to state specific criteria guidelines enumeration thresholds and cutoff dates along with check list, family tree and legacy datas as the identification of an individual will be done at the Gram sabha level/ village level committee /Nagar Panchayats/Municipalities , with the enforcement of the state machinery with claims and objections as stipulated. Thus it can be assumed that the NRC-Sikkim will also be subjected additionally  to (1) The Sikkim Subject Regulation Act 1961 (2) The Sikkim citizenship order 1975(3) The Sikkim (citizenship) amendment order 1989 (4) the notifications issued w.r.t. the issue of the Residential certificates on different dates by the Govt. of Sikkim.(5) The Tibetan Rehabilitation Executive Policies, 1959&2014(6) The Indo-Nepal treaty 1950.
Propounding as to why the Govt. of India should exempt Sikkim from CAA and Implement ILP in Sikkim:
Firstly,the research and analysis wing(R&AW) has warned the GOI, that the CAA 2019 would be misused by the infiltrators posing potential threat to the national security. Hence, as Sikkim being a border sensitive state touching three international borders with China(220.35km)Nepal(97.80 km)&Bhutan(32Km) there is every possibility that any Bangladeshi/Pakistani/Afghanistan (persecuted minorities) residing in Sikkim for five years or more continuously would be entitled to acquire Indian citizenship in disguise followed by the livelihood and fundamental rights. Therefore such disguised citizens can carry out any subversive activities detrimental to the security and sovereignty of India.
Secondly,the CAA 2019 can be assumed to open the flood gates to illegal migrants of any faith on the disguise of economic parameters as seen normally which will led to demographic complication in Sikkim.
Thridly, in the Kargil war 1999, the Pakistani army regulars disguised as Kashmiri shepherds and local herdsmen, infiltrated through the line of control and attacked the Indian army. Thus the lesson learnt and the Govt. of India’s main objective of Citizenship act 1955 and the Citizenship(Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Card) Rules 2003  was to identify the illegal migrants especially in the border sensitive areas and making them ineligible for citizenship by registration and naturalization but simultaneously ensuring that the Indian citizen particulary in these border areas could be identified by the issue of authentic identity cards to detect impersonification initiated by the then Dy. P.M. of India, Shri L. K. Advani. Sikkim has lived this ordeal as one top ranked Bodoland militant, Dhiren Boro was nabbed by the Sikkim police who had taken shelter and was operating from his suburb hideout at Gangtok, in 2003.
Lastly, the mainstream of Indian politics can’t always downplay Sikkim because of its tiny size and treat it only as just a buffer zone of a Himalayan frontier protective barrier cushioning it against any Chinese invasion. Its high time that the Govt. of India respects the historical indigenous ethnic cultural civilization of Sikkim on the sanctity of the Indo-Sikkim treaty 1950, The Tripartite 8th May Agreement 1973,The Govt. of Sikkim Act 1974 and Sikkim’s constitutional umbilical cord with the union of India, Article 371F.  The migration census of India(Sikkim) 2011, shows that out of the total population of 6,10,577 a population  of 2,56,158  persons have migrated to Sikkim for work, business, education, marriage, moved after birth, moved with households from different parts of the country. Hence, enough as Sikkim is HOUSEFULL to the brim, have mercy please.
(The author is the spokesperson of the SDF Party & can be contacted at mksubba@gmail.com)

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi