Sikkim Story: Protection to Absorption
THE modalities of Sikkim's absorption certainly lacked the finesse and diplomatic sheen that the External Affairs Ministry under Sardar Swaran Singh is credited with by the Sardar's admirers. It was a sneaky and cynical act of consummation of a process that had been going on ever since independence, a process marked by twists and turns and periods of lying low and edging forward.
Consider the essential scenario:
Sikkim, a 'protectorate5 inherited from the British, is brought closer to India by the unequal treaty of 1950. Its constitutional and political status is left indeterminate; its sovereignty open to interpretation. After 1954, the official maps published by the Government of India depart from British practice and begin to show not merely Sikkim, but even Bhutan, wilhin India's borders. Notwithstanding this, the then Minister for External Affairs, M C Ghagia, tells the Lok Sabha in 1967 that Sikkim is not part of India.l All the same^, the maps continue to show the two Himalayan states within India—despite protests from these states. Meanwhile, India sends in its army and the Central Reserve Police; builds strategic highways; and promotes the penetration of Indian merchant and usurer's capital into the tiny Sikkimese economy.
Following the suppression of the popular movement in April 1973 and the tripartite agreement among the Government of India, the Ghogyal and Kazi Lhendup Dorji, a new political and constitutional arrangement is worked out under the label of'democratization'. As an outcome of a rigged election held in early 1974—an election supervised by four battalions of the Indian Central Reserve Police and marked by blatant irregularities perpetuated by the candidates of the Sikkim National Congress—Kazi Lhendup Dorji, the feudal overlord of the Chakhung region, is manoeuvred into power. The election manifesto of the Sikkim Congress does not dare mention the issue of 'association' with India. Nor is the issue raised in any other form in the election campaign.
Through the tripartite agreement and the Government of Sikkim Act, 1974, a dictatorial constitution is imposed on the 'protectorate' by