Monday, November 29, 2021

How Kashmiri Bureaucrats Planned the Merger of Sikkim with India?

The merger of Sikkim into India was a historical event in 1975. It started when India presented its offer to the Sikkim leader one last time. It was a ‘180-degree turnaround in India’s policy towards the Chogyal, but there already was a secret plan to end the Chogyal’s rule in Sikkim. And to execute the plan, two Kashmiri Bureaucrats, R.N Kao and P.N Haskar played vital roles. A EurAsian Times Report.

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The Merger of Sikkim into India

Forty-three years later, G.B.S Sidhu, a former special secretary of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and station chief in Sikkim’s capital Gangtok during the early 1970s reveals that merging Sikkim with India was a ‘great big secret’. Sidhu has made this revelation and much more in his new book ‘Sikkim Dawn of Democracy: The Truth Behind the Merger with India’. And the Chinese media has scooped this all up.

Sikkim is one of the northeastern states of India. It borders Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal and West Bengal, and is very much close to India’s Siliguri Corridor near Bangladesh. For decades, Sikkim has witnessed territorial disputes.

In the book, Sidhu gives an account of the week-to-week detailing the operation spearheaded by a ‘secret three-member team’ in the Himalayan kingdom under the guidance of the chief Rameshwar Nath Kao (A Kashmiri Pandit and the 1st Chief of RAW) and its eastern regional director P.N. Banerjee. The three-member special team included Padam Bahadur Pradhan, Myngma Tshering and G.B.S Sidhu himself.

During the colonial era and fight for independence, Sikkim had been overlooked. Only in 1970, did the government express its interests. According to Sidhu’s book, the late prime minister Indira Gandhi called Kao and her principal secretary P.N Haksar (Another Noted Kashmiri Pandit) to discuss Sikkim.

“She mentioned Chogyal was being difficult as he wanted to accept the offer of Permanent Association with India (with the possibility of India sponsoring Sikkim’s membership of some UN organizations); only if he was allowed to enter into this arrangement with the full sovereign rights of his state.”

In 1972, India presented its offer to the Sikkim leader one last time. Sidhu in his book says it was a ‘180-degree turnaround in India’s policy towards the Chogyal. He states that when he took up the post in Gangtok in 1973, the secret plan to end the Chogyal’s rule was already in place. The book reveals that pro-democracy parties such as the Sikkim National Congress (SNC) was funded to reinforce campaigns against the monarchy.

“India used the momentum of the political parties anti-monarchy campaign to slowly weaken the Chogyal until the state assembly acquired enough power. In July 1973, we had already launched the operation to lend support to anti-Chogyal and pro-democracy political parties and their leaders in Sikkim, especially Kazi Lhendhup Dorji, to fulfill their long-cherished desire for political, economic and administrative reforms.

The operation was to culminate in the merger of Sikkim with India.” Sidhu wrote that the last objective was to be achieved in stages and through constitutional means as well as through public support for elected leaders.

Furthermore, Sidhu says it would be unfair to say that India annexed Sikkim. He said it was a political operation in which the military option was hardly exercised.

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