Public outrage over Darjeeling BJP MLA Neeraj Zimba’s ignorant statement on the Sikkimese

Public outrage over Darjeeling BJP MLA Neeraj Zimba’s ignorant statement on the Sikkimese

Gangtok, July 19: A derogatory remark against Sikkimese public made by BJP MLA from Darjeeling, Neeraj Zimba Tamang, while comparing the Gurkha public of the West Bengal region with the people of Sikkim has been facing a lot of heat.

His remark was made while defending a question made by a journalist on how the politician has been misleading the general public of his region, Darjeeling, was that the public there was one of the most aware and conscious public in the whole world, that the public there loved their land and were not like Sikkimese general public who get sold off on “roofing sheets” or as he called it, “chyadar ma bikne janta“.

The remark is derogatory and hurt the sentiments of all Sikkimese people, from common citizens, politicians and members of the administration. Zimba’s targetting of the patriotic sentiments of Sikkimese people was seen as ignorant and unseemly.

Besides, it was also seen as an act that hurt the Gurkha brotherhood between Sikkim and Darjeeling. Multiple politicians, activists, the general public, and netizens of Sikkim, as well as the people from other parts of West Bengal, took to social media to condemn the statement.

“I condemn the statement made by Mr. Neeraj Zimba MLA Darjeeling on Sikkimese people as “Chyaadar Mah Binknee Janta”. His irrelevant and hyprocratic statement shows his immaturity as a politician. He been a public representative must think about the consequences of what he speaks in public he has no right to make an statement regarding Sikkim and Sikkimese people.He must come forward and apologize in public,” wrote Tsewang Rinzing, a Sikkimese social activist.

“Neeraj Zimba seems unaware of the fact that Sikkim and Darjeeling share a common historical background and always have a peaceful bond of brotherhood. We Sikkimese people have always come forward for Darjeeling and stood shoulder to shoulder on Gorkhaland issue.”  

“Sikkim and Darjeeling share a good cultural relationship, no one can disturb it,” says Thuckchuk Lachungpa, Former Minister.

Writing on his Facebook Post, Indra Hang Subba, Member of Parliament from Sikkim, shared:

“I condemn statement made by Darjeeling MLA Neeraj Zimba Tamang on our people. He must apologise in public. It is absolutely derogatory statement belittling the norms of healthy neighbourhood. He has no right to make an statement, whatsoever, regarding Sikkim and Sikkimese people.

He shouldn’t forget that the same SIKKIM KO JANTA have been in solidarity and have always stood firm with the people he represents today, specially during 104 days of agitation for proposed Gorkhaland. He might not be aware that our people in many occasions have come on streets to support the cause. The students, intellectuals and people from every walks of life have been supporting their demand for separate Gorkhaland.

I wonder if our brothers and sisters from Darjeeling will ask for his apology towards Sikkimese people or not.

However, Mr. Zimba’s perspective towards Sikkimese people is now clear. This kind of irresponsible statements from the representatives leads to degradation of long cherished cordial relationships between the neighbours.”

Similarly, Sailendra Dewan, President of Gorkha Janmukti Vidhiyarthi Morcha-Bimal faction (Sikkim Unit) wrote:

“We request Shri Neeraj Zimba to issue a public apology for his statement. The statement made may have been in heat of the moment, but we believe that political representatives should more responsible and conscious in his/her deeds.”

“We also would like to mention here that statement made by Shri Neeraj Zimba does not represent the general perception of the people of Darjeeling-Kalimpong Hills. The statement does not hold the truth in any sense.

Sikkim-Darjeeling may be separated by a geo-political boundary but we have similar historical, cultural, social and linguistic roots. Sikkim has always been vocal and supportive of our demand for Gorkhaland. It is the only state that has passed a resolution to support Gorkhaland in its parliament. During, 2017 agitation, Sikkim and its citizen have provided us tremendous moral and physical support.”

Connecting the blood relationship Sikkimese Gurkhas and Gurkhas from West Bengal, Dewan writes, “A wise man once said, BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER!

Even younger people were offended by the MLA’s statement. Two law students – Anish Sharma from Dentam West Sikkim and Mon Bahadur Karki from Yangang South Sikkim, lodged a police complaint against him at Sadar Police Station in Gangtok.

“Mr. Neeraj Zimba has hurt the sentiments of the people of Sikkim. Therefore we decided to fila complaint on his derogatory remarks which has hurt the sentiments of the people of Sikkim”, said the duo.

Following the storm of social media backlash, the Neeraj Zimba issued an apology via Sikkim Chronicle. The audio for the same can be found here.

But the remarkable part about the entire event isn’t the anger expressed by politicians of Sikkim, but rather, the apologies that have been streaming in from Darjeeling’s populace on behalf of the politician even before the official apology was almost coerced out of him.

The Darjeeling Chronicle, a digital news media site, issued a note to the people of Sikkim, stating:

We speak for our portal and the people who read us, and we can assure the good people of Sikkim, THAT Mr. Zimba’s sentiments are his own, and does not reflect the sentiments of the people of Darjeeling.

We are deeply appreciative of how the good people of Sikkim have always stood by us through thick and thin.

As Mark Twain once wrote, “If you send a damned fool to St. Louis, and you don’t tell them he’s a damned fool, they’ll never find out” – Sorry, we forgot to tell You guys about OUR FOOL.

He should apologize.

If it helps, we apologize for all the hurt.