A senior minister in the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) government on Thursday resigned as the public outrage kept growing after the Supreme Court, while hearing a case in January, said that Sikkimese Nepalis were persons of foreign origin.
Mani Kumar Sharma, who heads the Health and Information Technology departments, has addressed his resignation letter to Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang.
In his resignation letter, Sharma said in view of the Supreme Court's verdict on January 13 this year, "The State government has not taken the sentiments of the Sikkimese people seriously and I feel that it is not necessary to remain in the State Cabinet further."
Hence, I submit this resignation with immediate effect, said Sharma who is an influential MLA from the Singtam-Khamdong constituency in East Sikkim.
A controversy has been going in Sikkim for the past few days with several apolitical organisations and political parties holding rallies and Press meets to condemn the objectionable remarks against the Sikkimese Nepali community.
While granting income tax exemption to old settlers of Sikkim as sought in 2013 petition by the Association of Old Settlers of Sikkim (AOSS), the Supreme Court on January 13 observed that the Sikkimese Nepalis were persons of 'foreign origin'.
Speaking to media, Sharma said the state government should have at the moment camped in Delhi and actively lobbying with the Union ministers besides preparing its replies to the court.
"There should be a multi-dimensional approach by the government to permanently remove this repetitive slur on the Sikkimese. People would not have come out on the streets if the state government was transparent in this issue," said Sharma.
He maintained that the 'most important' step to do now is to go and 'lobby' in Delhi. I am also going to Delhi on this matter, he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang has been reiterating that the Sikkim government will file a review petition in the apex court to expunge those 'foreigner' and 'immigrant' tag on the Sikkimese Nepali community.
Tamang said he has personally spoken to Union Law minister Kiren Rijiju who assured him that the Centre will support the review petition of the Sikkim Government, and if required will file a review petition itself as well on similar lines. I thank him on behalf of the people of Sikkim, said the Chief Minister.
"I appeal to all to have patience, and faith in the judiciary. It is just a matter of time that this issue will be addressed for the good," said the Chief Minister in his recent assurances to the people of Sikkim.
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