Sikkim reels under post-poll violence after SKM ends SDF's 25-year rule; police say situation under control

Sikkim is reeling under post-poll violence after the state saw a change of guard in its Assembly election, the results for which were declared on 23 May. The ousted Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) has alleged that anti-social elements from Nepal have been hired to perpetuate violence against the Opposition.

The SDF, led by Pawan Chamling, had held power for five consecutive terms. In the recently-concluded election, it was ousted by the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), and a new dispensation under the leadership of PS Golay was established.

“Right from the day the result was announced, we have been attacked at various places by Sikkim Krantikari Morcha workers,” alleges Rup Narayan Rai, convenor of the SDF. The SDF has even alleged that family members of Chamling have been attacked.

A relative of Chamling, who did not wish to be named fearing for his safety, told Firstpost, "On the night of 23 May, SKM workers attacked and vandalised my home."

 Sikkim reels under post-poll violence after SKM ends SDFs 25-year rule; police say situation under control

File image of former Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling. AFP

He also said that apart from his home in Namchi, a town in South Sikkim district, a number of homes and institutions of other members of the former chief minister's family have been attacked.

“A resort named ‘Seven Hills Resort,’ owned by a relative of Chamling, a shop and the homes of a number of his family members were attacked and vandalised," he said.

Rup Narayan Rai further alleged that one of the biggest attacks took place in the Sikkim Eco-Tourism Hut, a co-operative run by SDF workers. He also added that a number of workers and party offices spread across South Sikkim district have been attacked.

“Among the attacks were the vandalisation of the Namchi District Party office, an attack at the house of Namchi councillor Khusboo Verma, and assaults on a number of panchayat-level workers of the party,” he added.

He also said that vehicles owned by SDF workers too were attacked or burnt and two police personnels were also injured in a tussle with the SKM workers.

He said that most attacks took place in South Sikkim, where the SDF has the strongest presence. “It seems to be a design to scare away workers of the SDF before by-elections are held in three Assembly constituencies. If the SDF wins these by-elections, the SKM would lose power. It seems that they are trying to confine SDF workers to their homes,” he said.

Bypolls in three constituencies are likely to take place soon. In the Assembly election, the SKM won by a slim margin of two seats. The party won 17 seats, while the SDF won 15 seats.

Many in the SDF believe miscreants were hired from Nepal to cause violence.

“Sikkim is a small place and people know each other. But many miscreants who were involved in the violence do not seem to belong to Sikkim. We suspect that they were hired from Nepal,” said Chamling's relative.

However, the police have termed these cases as minor incidents that occurred during post-poll celebrations. Manish Verma, Superintendent of Police in the South Sikkim district, said, "Most cases are related to stone-throwing which led to windows of homes and cars being broken. Two people involved in such activities have been arrested. A few preventive arrests have also been made. The situation is under control now.”

Verma said that only three cases related to post-poll violence have been registered in the South Sikkim district headquarters. He also denied claims about the miscreants having been hired from Nepal, terming them as "rumours."

He said that a police constable sustained a minor injury in a scuffle with a group of intoxicated men.

On its part, the SKM denies all the allegations against it, saying that these are all false and fabricated cases.

Jacob Khaling, political secretary to the chief minister, said, “Why would our party attack the SDF workers in South Sikkim district when we have a strong presence in other districts too? The SDF is not being able to accept the fact that it has lost the election, and so it is trying to defame us. The chief minister has instructed the police to take stringent action against anyone who violates the law and creates unrest. Peace is our main motto.”

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Updated Date: Jun 02, 2019 11:23:42 IST