The decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs to open the world’s third highest Mount Kanchenjunga situated in Sikkim has been strongly protested by individuals and organisations of the State.
Sikkimese people have been worshipping Mt Kanchenjunga as their guardian deity since centuries and it has been connected with the sentiments of the people.
The MHA has issued a letter to the Indian Mountaineering Foundation and home secretaries of all state governments and union territories on August 13 regarding the opening of 137 mountain peaks for mountaineering/trekking.
The list has also 24 peaks of Sikkim including Mt Kanchenjunga.
Organizations and individuals have been asserting that Mt Kanchenjunga should remain untouched and the concerned ministry should roll back the decision.
Sikkim even celebrate the festival of Pang Lhabsol every year in honour of the great Mt Kanchenjunga and other subordinate deities of the total 110 holy peaks in the range of Mt Kanchenjunga and invoke blessing for the protection, peace and prosperity of the land.
This year the State has been gearing up to celebrate Pang Lhabsol on September 13.
Sikkim Mountaineering Association president Kunzang Gyatso expressed that the sentiments of the people of Sikkim should have to be respected.
He stated that SMA was in the favour of the State Government notification banning climbing on Mt Kanchenjunga.
He expressed that it was very surprising that the notification was taken out without the consultation of any stakeholder of Sikkim.
Likewise, Sikkim Bhutia Lepcha Apex Committee convener, Tseten Tashi stated that the State Government has to take immediate action on this notification.
He expressed that the concerned ministry had not consulted with the State Government before taking out this notification.
He mentioned that as Mt Kanchenjunga was among mountains which have been notified under the Places of Workshop [Special Provision] Act 1991 as sacred mountains which cannot be climbed or scaled and again in the notification taken out in 2001.
Tashi mentioned that SIBLAC would first watch the step of the State Government on this notification as it was duty of the State government to approach the Centre and then take the action accordingly.
Pang Lhabsol Celebration Committee 2019, Rabong publicity secretary, Bhawani Gurung mentioned that the people of Sikkim have been worshipping Mt Kanchenjunga as their guardian deity since long time.
He added that Sikkimese people have been celebrating the festival of Pang Lhabsol by worshiping Mt Kanchenjunga since 1600’s.
He added that the sentiments of the people of Sikkim have been connected with Mt Kanchenjunga who worship as their guardian deity.
“Pang Lhabsol is not about any community or religion but it is purely the worship of the guardian deity Mt Kanchenjunga,” he said.
He added that it would be better not to touch Mt Kanchenjunga as it would hurt the sentiment of the people.
Gurung, who is also the chairman of the recently formed Environment Conservation Society of India, stated that mountaineering to so many peaks would definitely increase the tourism in the State but at the same it would have adverse effect on the environment.
He mentioned that it may increase the garbage and wastes in higher sacred peaks and ultimately lead to the increase of the global warming.
He added that PLCC would also write about it to the Ministry of Home Affairs very shortly.
A social and political activist, Passang Sherpa has condemned and registered a strong protest on the decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
He threatened to launch a strong movement from September 14 if the Ministry of Home Affairs would not roll back its notification by this Pang Lhabsol, which falls on September 13.
He mentioned that mountains and peaks connected with emotions and sentiments of the people of Sikkim and worship as mother and deity.
Sherpa mentioned that the decision was anti-Sikkim and anti-Sikkimese and totally against the Article 371F and to abolish the identity and existence of Sikkim and its people.
“We strongly condemn and reject such anti-Sikkimese notification,” he said.
Another social activist, Sonam Gyatso Sherpa has requested the Ministry of Home Affairs to immediately withdraw its notification opening several peaks and mountains of Sikkim for mountaineering and trekking in the earliest.
He also urged Sikkim Government to clarify its stand on the opening of holy peaks and mountains for mountaineering and trekking.
He added that it was a known fact that Sikkimese revered the mountains and peaks as sacred and there were many festivals and rituals worshipping these peaks and moreover, the Place of Worship Act 1991 have enlisted many of these peaks and mountains as Buddhist place of Worship.