Pawan Chamling, the five-time Chief Minister of Sikkim, led the Sikkim Bachao Abhiyan at Yangang, South Sikkim. Yangang is also Pawan Chamling’s birth place. Currently, Shri Chamling is the MLA of Namchi Singithang constituency and President, Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF). During the 2019 elections, the SDF party won the popular vote but narrowly lost the elections winning 15 seats whereas the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) won 17 seats. The Sikkim Bachao Abhiyan was launched on 28th November 2022 as a campaign to highlight issues facing the people of Sikkim and the state. The main themes of the campaign are the implications of Citizenship Amendment Act 2019,
One Nation One Ration Card, the dilution of Article 371F, the corruption in Sikkim under SKM, political terrorism and organised crime in Sikkim and the selling away of state’s resources by the government. The Sikkim Bachao Abhiyan program at Yangang was undertaken as a helmet rally symbolising the protest against the ongoing and increasing violence and life threatening attacks on SDF party members since 2019. Since the elections in 2019, the ruling SKM party has led a series of attacks on SDF party workers and leaders, including an attack on Shri Pawan Chamling himself during the by-elections on 10th October 2019. While on the campaign trail, Shri Chamling and those travelling with him were attacked with stones, sustaining grave injuries. Shri Chamling has been attacked since on several occasions including at Tare Bhir, Melli on 8th Jan 2022, while on his way to the Sikkim Legislative Assembly in March 2022 and earlier this year on 28th January at Assangthang.
Over 200 incidents of attacks on SDF cadre have taken place since 2019. The most recent attack was on Shri Tashi Gyatso, General Secretary Incharge West District, SDF, who was attacked on 11th March 2023 by masked men in the bustling streets of Gangtok in broad daylight. He received 25 stitches on his head from the blunt force trauma. Hence, as a statement against the ongoing violence and negligence by the government and police, Shri Chamling led the helmet rally at Yangang on the 17th. The Chief Minister PS Golay on 4th February 2023 made a speech at Assangthang inciting violence against SDF cadre stating that “I will enter the houses (of SDF workers) myself and show what is to be done”. The day after the speech, the SDF head office was pelted with stones in Gangtok, SDF party office in Namchi was pelted with stones and petrol bombs and many party workers were gravely injured in life threatening attacks. Masked men entered the house of Ramesh Rai, Vice President South District, SDF, and hit him with rods. Not a single arrest has been made thus far for any of the attacks.
Referring to these incidents, Shri Chamling during the Sikkim Bachao Abhiyan strongly condemned the political terrorism of the government and ruling party and declared that “Our SDF party’s politics is about ensuring the victory of the rule of the people of Sikkim” and establishing peace and security. While the meeting was underway, a gathering of SKM party workers in the presence of police disturbed the gathering and chanted slogans. Addressing the SKM workers, Shri Chamling hit back saying that “In a democracy, since all people have freedom, they are free to be part of any political party, to leave any political party…everyone is allowed to hold political meetings and to give speeches. But today, there is no democracy in Sikkim. In Sikkim, the law of the land has become defunct. Does the Indian constitution not apply in Sikkim? Is Sikkim not the 22nd state of India? The state government has to be answerable for this and the India government also has to look into this closely.