Modi govt keen to Debate on Article 370, Fear in Sikkim

What is Article 370?
“Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is a ‘temporary provision’ which grants special autonomous status to Jammu & Kashmir. Under Part XXI of the Constitution of India, which deals with “Temporary, Transitional and Special provisions”, the state of Jammu & Kashmir has been accorded special status under Article 370. All the provisions of the Constitution which are applicable to other states are not applicable to J&K. For example, till 1965, J&K had a Sadr-e-Riyasat for governor and prime minister in place of chief minister.”

The Narendra Modi government’s keenness to debate on Article 370 pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir has triggered a fear among people of Sikkim, who enjoy special status under Article 371F of the Indian constitution.

Narendra Modi government’s keenness to debate on Article 370
Narendra Modi government’s keenness to debate
on Article 370

Days after Union minister of state Jitendra Singh batted for doing away with Article 370, linking J&K with the Indian union, civil society groups in Sikkim expressed fear over whether Article 371F that defines Sikkim’s merger with India 39 years ago will also be scrapped.

Reacting to minister Singh’s comments on the Article, the Sikkim Citizens Forum condemned his statement and termed it as a “needless and irresponsible” matter for the newly-elected government.
Mr Singh had said that Article 370 is not in the interest of the people and that it had done more harm to the state than good.

In its election manifesto, the BJP had said it would work for the abrogation of the Article.
Condemning Mr Singh’s take on the Article, Sikkim Citizens Forum covenor and former minister, T Lachungpa, told a press conference here today that “Sikkim protests such a move by the minister.”
Mr Lachungpa said special constitutional clauses in Article 370 and Article 371F should not be touched upon in any aspect.

He said Sikkimese people will not give in to “such designs of doing away with Sikkim’s special status in the Indian union.”

Several citizens’ groups and pro-Sikkimese political outfits are likely to join the chorus against the “centre’s intent.”

Sikkim and its people enjoy the special status under Article 371F as per a tripartite merger treaty signed on 8 May 1975. The article guarantees protection of Sikkim’s old laws, income tax exemption and protection of land transfer under Revenue Order Number 1, among other things.

Discussions over J&K’s special status and their repercussions on Sikkim’s distinct identity come at a time when the Sikkim government is stressing on its strict implementation.

As a move to protect the interest of the indigenous Sikkimese, the state government has made Sikkim Subject certificates mandatory in all employment and business ventures.

The document is a pre-requisite to carry on contract, business or buy and sale land in Sikkim as per the protection of Sikkim’s old laws as provided by Article 371F.(sns)

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