Gangtok: In a significant move, Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay is leading a delegation comprising representatives from 12 indigenous communities to Delhi, urging the government to grant them tribal status.
Before embarking on their journey to Delhi, representatives from these communities, collectively known as the Eleven Indigenous Communities of Sikkim, organized an awareness program in Gangtok on December 3. During the event, leaders discussed the tribal status issue and various concerns affecting their communities.
Raju Basnet, the Convener of Eleven Indigenous Communities of Sikkim (EICOS), addressed the media, stating, “The resolution adopted today emphasizes the restoration of rights and interests guaranteed in the May 8, 1973 Agreement and Article 371F of the Indian Constitution. We are optimistic that the submission of the ethnographic report, supported by Article 371F, will prompt parliamentary action in the winter session to officially declare us as tribal.”
The resolution highlighted that, until 1979, all communities in Sikkim enjoyed equal status, including seat reservation, job reservation, and socio-economic benefits akin to tribal communities in the Indian context. However, after the abrogation of reserved seats in 1979, these communities lost their tribal status and associated privileges.
Accompanied by 18 members from the TN Dhakal-led committee and EICOS representatives, the Chief Minister’s delegation aims to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other cabinet ministers in Delhi. Basnet explained, “The TN Dhakal Committee has meticulously prepared a comprehensive report on the demands of these 12 marginalized communities, which will be presented to the central leaders in Delhi.”
In response to questions about the timing in the lead-up to the 2024 elections, Basnet asserted, “During an election year, political leaders are more attuned to the concerns of the people. This effort is to ensure that our rights and interests are acknowledged and preserved, a cry for justice that resonates with everyone in this crucial period.”