Namchi, 01 Feb:
The situation here turned tense today as Sikkim Democratic Front and Sikkim Krantikari Morcha supporters got into a confrontational mode over “flag politics,” a routine which is expected to play out more often as the elections approach closer.
SKM, under the leadership of the party’s South District president, Ganesh Rai, had organised the flag-hoisting programme around the Central Park area, and later in the afternoon, youth from SDF gathered around town and requested shopkeepers to take down the SKM flags from the respective shops.
As word spread, SKM youth also arrived at the spot and soon the two groups were engaged in a heated argument.
The air was thick with tension and it was only after personnel from Namchi Police Station arrived that the situation was defused.
The matter was resolved after both parties agreed that if shopkeepers around Central Park wished to take down the flags they could and if they did not want to, they will hoist the SKM party flag.
Police sources further inform that Namchi police had also received the complaints from both parties and registered the general diaries of both parties at the Namchi PS.
Meanwhile, given the development, police personnel and IRBn jawans have been deployed in the area.
SKM’s Ganesh Rai, when contacted, informed that this was only a small party programme and had been carried out peacefully.
“We had no intentions to clash with anyone and we had put up the flags after asking shopkeepers and house-owners,” he said, while adding that it was the SDF youth who tried to bring down SKM flags forcefully.
Meanwhile, SDF party youth convenor, Bikash Rai, youth in-charge Binod Rai and councillor Kamal Chettri, informed that they had received several complaints from shopkeepers and house owners that SKM party youth had come in groups and forcefully hoisted SKM flags in their shops.
The SDF leaders added that the shopkeepers had agreed out of fear but were not keen to hoist SKM flags and said they needed “protection” to bring down the flags.
“It is then that SDF party youth of Namchi-Singithang stepped up to allow the shopkeepers to feel safe enough to pull down the SKM flags,” they said.
They added that some shopkeepers had also lodged a complaint against SKM party workers for forcefully hoisting SKM flags on their properties.