Monks march in Gangtok with Karmapa visit demand - Sikkim Express
Rally extracts appointment promise with Rajnath
GANGTOK, May 18: pending demand for allowing 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to visit Sikkim saw scores of monks and followers taking out a robust rally in Gangtok on Thursday, a day before Union Home Affairs minister Rajnath Singh comes visiting the Sikkim capital.
Their well-timed persistence extracted an assurance from the State government that a 15-member delegation from their side would be allowed to visit Rajnath Singh on Friday to place the Karmapa visit demand.
Another strategic objective of the rally was to attract the attention of intelligence agencies based in Gangtok for sending a message to the visiting Union Minister that the Karmapa followers in Sikkim have reached exasperation level.
A meeting of Chief Ministers of five States who share borders with China is taking place at Gangtok on Saturday for which Rajnath Singh is arriving.
“We want the IB and RAW officials listening and taking note of our rally to take the message to the Union Home minister, There will be a large assembly of Chief Minister and Ministers of State in Sikkim over the next few days. We want them to hear our demand as well because the Sikkim government has misinterpreted the demand as Karmapa to Rumtek instead of his visit to the State,”said SIBLAC convener Tseten Tashi Bhutia before the rally started.
The procession today is the third rally organized by The Denjong Lhadey this year and also marks the 315th day of their movement. Monks under The Denjong Lhadey are also on a relay hunger strike at BL House, Tibet Road here with the Karmapa vist demand since last July.
Starting from BL House at around 11.15 am, monks and followers completed a round of Gangtok along the NH10 before ending at the starting point at around 3.30 pm. The mass rally – also attended by opposition leaders and members of various organizations – crippled traffic movement when the road was blocked at three junctures for some time.
The longest gridlock took place near Titanic Park where the participants squatted on the road for around on hour. They also appealed the business community at M.G. Marg to close their shops in support of the demand.
Addressing the gathering at the spot, Sangha MLA Sonam Lama said he was attending the rally not as a politician but as a Sikkimese of Buddhist faith. “We will not take law and order in hand and uphold the Constitution but when it comes to religion we are ready to die. The devotees are aggressive and took to the road instead of the foot path designated to us for protest. We appreciate the cooperation by the Sikkim Police,”he said.
“In these 315 days the government has ignored our hunger strike. We will not care even if the Chief Minister is in attendance, but we want to address our issue with Union Home minister when he visits the State from tomorrow. If any of the social media pages run by the SDF politicize the issue, we will vandalize their offices. We urge the SDF ministers to control their youths from politicizing the matter,”said Lama.
After this, a delegation from the rally led by the Sangha MLA, Denjong Lhadey coordinator Chewang Lama, Sikkim TMC general Tshering Wangchuk lepcha and Bhutia Lepcha Protection Force convener Phigu Tshering met chief secretary A.K. Shrivastava at Manan Kendra.
It was informed that the delegation was assured that a 15-member delegation would be allowed to meet the Union Home minister at Gangtok on Friday. The delegation will put forward the demand for allowing the Karmapa to visit and bless Sikkim.
The Denjong Lhadey coordinator expressed that it is difficult to understand why the Karmapa is not being granted permission to visit Sikkim.
The monks have threatened of a stronger movement if Karmapa is not allowed to visit Sikkim by the time their relay hunger strike at BL House completes on year on July 11 this year.