Monday, December 03, 2007

"Homeless" Sikkimese want citizen status

by Subhrangshu Gupta

CALCUTTA, March 3 — Over 100,000 "homeless" Sikkimese settled down in the Darjeeling Duars Coochbehar area of North Bengal, have demanded that citizenship be granted to them without any further delay. They have threatened to launch an agitation otherwise.

The ultimatum was sent to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mr Joyti Basu, by the Sikkim National Congress as well as the Sikkim Sangram Parisad.

These "homeless" Sikkimese mostly comprises Lepchas and Bhutias who at the time of Sikkim joining as a hill state of India, had been treated as "outsiders" by the Chogyal on ethnic discrimination and are still considered as "homeless"

Initially they lived in Sikkim but afterwards spread over the adjoining hills of Darjeeling and the Duars. But neither the Sikkim Government nor the West Bengal Government had taken any legal"guardianship" of them.

Mr Basu said the state had no legal responsibilities for these "homeless people" and demanded that the Centre should take immediate steps to decide the fate of these people.