Gangtok, 11 Oct:
A desperate SKM was resorting to mindless violence seeking to intimidate people because it cannot win them over is how the Sikkim Democratic Front is looking at the violent attack on it campaign party at Upper Salghari on Thursday by SKM functionaries who had been hounding the SDF team led by party president, Pawan Chamling. Projectiles were hurled at the motorcade and although Mr Chamling was not hurt, his daughter, Komal Chamling, accompanying him was injured along with six SDF party functionaries, some of whom sustained injuries grievous enough to require them to be sent to Siliguri for further check-up. The party, convinced that the state’s authorities will not deliver the investigation and protection required to reassure people that the by-election will be free and fair, has sought the intervention of the ECI.
Meanwhile, in a Facebook post on the incident, Mr Chamling alleges that this was a “planned attack” and an “attempt to murder” him. However, many of our SDF party members were severely injured and some had to be sent to Siliguri for further check-up due to the nature of their injuries.
Mr Chamling officially began his by-election campaign for Moses Rai, the SDF candidate ofr Poklok Kamrang, on Thursday and it appears that this did not sit well with his political opponents. SKM president, Chief Minister PS Tamang, recently given permission by the Election Commission of India to contest the elections, has filed his nomination papers from Poklok-Kamrang which has traditionally been Mr Chamling’s stronghold.
Detailing the incident, Mr Chamling shares that SKM targeted his campaign right from the start when he reached the first stop for the day at Assangthang near the helipad.
“SKM supporters surrounded us to derail us from our meeting,” he states, adding that even before they reached the venue, the SDF candidate was accosted by SKM party workers who also assaulted some members in Mr Rai’s entourage. One SDF party worker, Kewal Thapa, who was “brutally beaten up,”Mr Chamling informs.
He adds that bullet-like holes were noticed in the candidate’s car and has demanded proper police inquiry in to the matter.
Cars full of SKM party workers shadowed the SDF motorcade throughout the day from thereon, Mr Chamling writes, adding that the SKM group also heckled SDF party workers trying to provoke them and intimidate the lay people.
“Various attempts were made all through the day to stop our campaigning. We were not allowed to freely campaign for the elections,” Mr Chamling states.
Stones were reportedly hurled at an SDF stop at Bhaisalgaon and it was when Mr Chamling was returning home in the evening that the most intense attack was launched.
“On our way back, a little above Upper Salghari, the group attacked us with stones near Timburey Lower Dorop School around 5:45pm. They attacked the car that I was travelling in first and after that they hurled stones at all the cars in our convoy. The stones came from both sides of the road. They pelted down our car’s window pane and the stones also hit my daughter, Komal Chamling in the process. During the attack, Bijay Subba, Bijay Rai, Nirmal Kumar Rai, Suman Chamling, Lal Bahadur Chettri and Donesh Rai from our group sustained severe injuries,” he details.
Mr Chamling has held up the incident as evidence that “there is no law and order and there is no rule of law in Sikkim anymore.”
“There is no environment for free and fair elections. In a democracy, everyone is allowed to campaign freely however, what happened yesterday shows a complete breakdown of the law and order system in Sikkim,” he insists.
The party today submitted a memorandum to the Chief Election Officer, Sikkim, detailing the incident and demanding strict action. SDF is seeking deployment of central forces in the three constituencies going for by-elections to avoid violence and casualties during the campaign and to ensure free and fair elections.
Addressing a press conference here today, SDF spokesperson, JB Darnal, stressed that the latest incident was consistent with the violence that has descended on Sikkim since the formation of SKM party.
He added that there has been no action from the administration thus far despite the life-threatening attack on a former Chief Minister and his party supporters.
“Since the State administration has totally failed in controlling the situation or take action on people involved, SDF has approached the Election Commission. We are hopeful that the ECI will be able to conduct free and fair elections in the State,” he said.
He further informed that that CEO has assured to deploy the central forces immediately in all three constituencies.
SDF spokesperson, Ashit Rai, in turn condemned the attacks as a dark day for Sikkim and democracy.
He called on SKM party and its supporters to grow up and mature into politics in the interest of Sikkim and its people not personal ambitions.
SDF spokesperson, Krishna Lepcha, believes that the attack proved that in the absence of people’s issues, SKM was resorting to propaganda and violence in the State.
Likewise, another SDF spokesperson, Amber Rai, stated that the people need to think seriously about what direction SKM was taking Sikkim on and stressed that that such violence was not new to how SKM functions.
“This was not just an attack on Pawan Chamling but also an attack on Sikkim Subjects, Old Laws and other issues of Sikkim as Pawan Chamling has been advocating the protection of Sikkim Subjects, safeguarding of Old Laws and pursuing issues of Sikkim,” Mr Rai said.