A controversy sparked over an advertisement by Delhi government for the enrolment of volunteers for the Civil Defence Corps in the state. The advertisement that was published in several newspapers grabbed the attention of many alleging on the point that the content in the advertisement discriminates against Sikkim and its people.
The said advertisement’s one of the eligibility criteria reads, “Citizen of India, or a subject of Sikkim or of Bhutan or of Nepal and resident of Delhi.” This has triggered criticism and debate, while many have taken the issue to social media. A user alleged that the advertisement refers to Sikkim as a separate nation. The user, Anshul Saxena tweeted, “Delhi’s AAP govt’s ad refers to Sikkim as a separate nation. Ironically, AAP defends it by referring to notification of MHA’s civil defence regulation dated 30/03/1973 which refers to Sikkim as a separate nation. These people don’t even know that Sikkim became India’s part in 1975.
While calling it an insensitivity, BJP’s Amit Malviya tweeted, “Arvind Kejriwal should apologise to people of North East, living in Delhi, who are proud Indians, for this insensitivity.” Several other leaders of BJP reacted to the issue. The official twitter handle of BJP Delhi wrote,” On 15 May 1975, the President of India ratified a constitutional amendment that made Sikkim the 22nd state of India. Stop misleading people! CM Arvind Kejriwal should apologise to the people of North East who are proud Indians, for this insensitivity.”
Letter from Sikkim
Taking note of the issue, Chief Secretary, Govt of Sikkim wrote a letter to the Delhi Government requesting to withdraw the advertisement which the letter termed as ‘offensive’. The Sikkim government further alleged that the advertisement clubbed Sikkim with Bhutan and Nepal as a separate country.
“This is immensely hurtful to the people of Sikkim who take pride in being the citizens of our great country, ever since it became 22nd state of the Indian Union on 16th May 1975,” reads a paragraph of the letter.
In its defense, The Aam Aadmi Party’s twitter handle referred to the Ministry of Home Affairs’ citation of The Civil Defence Regulations, 1968. It further alleged BJP and Congress of doing politics over the issue.
“In this difficult period when the Delhi government wants to work with other governments, the leaders of BJP and Congress are busy in politics. This Delhi government advertisement clearly follows the instructions of MHA. Appeal to AAP, work for the people of the country above politics,” AAP reacted to the controversy prevailed over the advertisement.
However, a few hours later, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s tweet clearly shows a different take on the matter of contention. Mr. Kejriwal said that Sikkim is an integral part of India and that such ‘errors also cannot be tolerated’.
Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Anil Baijal informed that a senior officer of Directorate of Civil Defence (HQ) was suspended with immediate effect. However, LG did not mention the name of the suspended officer in his tweet.
Ministry of Home Affairs’ records
The Rational Daily search through the records available on the Ministry of Home Affairs’ official website and found The Civil Defence Regulations, 1968. It clear mentions one of the eligibility criteria for the Civil Defence Corps as, “he shall be a citizen of India, or a subject of Sikkim or of Bhutan or of Nepal,” which is similar to that of the criteria mentioned in Delhi government’s advertisement, excluding the ‘a resident of Delhi’ part. The records available on The Directorate General, Civil Defence’s official website also show the same.
Surprisingly, in the ‘Eligibility Criteria to apply for Civil Defence’ section, Assam government website also mentions the same criteria mentioned Ministry of Home Affairs’ record. Similarly, the Uttar Pradesh government website also mentions the same.
Many are now raising the concern over The Civil Defence Act, 1968, while suggesting to amend the act. While a Delhi government officer is suspended over the issue, questions raised on the point that it is certainly ‘wrong’ to mention the name of Sikkim in that context, why similar eligibility criteria are mentioned on other governments’ websites?