Family denied Sikkim entry over ID proof

Family denied Sikkim entry over ID proof
Family of four from Sazong Rumtek village in East Sikkim has been rendered without a place to call their home after they were denied entry to the state on their return from a visit to Nepal since none of them has a voter’s identity card or a certificate of identification (COI) to establish their domicile.

Farmer Anil Subba, his wife Sangita, daughter Sushmita and son Ajay had gone to visit a distant relative in Damak, Nepal, a couple of days before the coronavirus-induced nationwide lockdown began. Their planned short trip got prolonged because of the lockdown in both the countries.

On June 2 when the Nepal government allowed partial movement of vehicles, the family decided to seize the opportunity and started their return, reaching Rangpo along the border with Bengal in the evening after covering a little over 150km by road.

However, on reaching Rangpo, their nightmare began as the authorities refused them entry since none of them was able to produce either the voter ID card or the COI.

“We pleaded with the authorities to let us in, but they refused even though all of us have Aadhaar cards. They insisted on either the voter ID card or COI. My brother and I even have our birth certificates and school certificates to establish that we are from Sikkim,” Sushmita told The Telegraph over phone on Friday, adding her illiterate father didn’t understand the importance of having a voter ID card.

Having failed to convince the authorities, the family was forced to spend Tuesday night at a makeshift thatched stall on the Bengal side of Rangpo. The Sikkim and Bengal Rangpos get their names from the eponymous river that forms the border.

The family again tried to enter Sikkim the following day, but without much luck and another night in the mosquito-infected stall. “Having left with no other option, I posted a video on social media on Thursday describing our plight and seeking help,” said Sushmita.

However, even after her post, the family has not been allowed in yet. Thanks to a Sikkim police officer posted in Rangpo, they have been shifted from the stall to his acquaintance’s place in Rangpo where they are being provided with shelter and food. “We are now being told that our case is being processed and will have to wait till the lockdown is lifted,” said Sushmita.

Jacob Khaling, the political secretary to chief minister P. S. Tamang (Golay), said the government had been bringing back Sikkimemse people stuck outside if they registered online and possessed either a voter ID card or COI. “But the Subbas have not fulfilled any of these criteria. These are the laid down norms,” he told The Telegraph.

Many Sikkimese, however, want the Subbas to be allowed in on humanitarian grounds.

“There are certain rules that should be strictly followed and maintained. And we all know that. But the mark of a civilized society is reflected not only in its dogmatic pursuance of rules and regulations, but also in its expression and recognition of humanity. At this juncture of Covid-19 crisis, we cannot just be bureaucratic. Let us also be humane Sikkimese and allow the family to enter Sikkim. Such act will go a long way in shaping our society,” wrote one of them on Facebook.


The Telegraph

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family of four from Sazong Rumtek village in East Sikkim has been rendered without a place to call their home after they were denied entry to the state on their return from a visit to Nepal since none of them has a voter’s identity card or a certificate of identification (COI) to establish their domicile.

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