Bhaichung Bhutia with Amit Shah
Bhaichung Bhutia with Amit Shah. Image credit - Facebook

Former India’s national football team captain and Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP) working president Bhaichung Bhutia met union home minister Amit Shah in Delhi on Saturday.

During his meeting with Shah, Bhutia expressed his concern over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 and discussed various other issues of Sikkim.

Bhutia said the union home minister gave ample time to hear the Sikkim issues including the Citizenship Amendment Act.

He raised the issue that Sikkim is not mentioned in writing in the CAA about Sikkim’s exemption from the Act and implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) in the state.

The HSP leader said during the merger with India in 1975, the population ratio of the BL community (Lepcha, Bhutia, Sherpa, and others) was 45% and if the CAA is implemented the community could go down to 5% or below that.

“This is a serious danger of losing our identity, culture, and language. To safeguard all the Sikkimese origin people (Lepcha Bhutia, Nepali and old business community), the re-verification of Sikkim subject and COI to be implemented in place of NRC,” said Bhutia.

He also requested the union home minister to name the Pakyong Airport after Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal, who gifted Sikkim and the Sikkimese the Article 371f.

Bhutia said: “Home minister Amit Shah ji was very positive in his response and said he would consider and look into the demands.”

“He (Amit Shah also said that Article 371f was not included since it is anyway powerful than the Act or the bill (now Act),” said Bhutia.

Shah informed Bhutia that he had consulted all the legal experts on Article 371f and therefore, “it was not necessary to put in the bill”.

Bhutia said they will form a committee that would suggest the safeguards of Sikkimese interests and submit a memorandum to the union minister citing their concerns.

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