• Short Summary

    After two weeks of public demonstrations that threatened to topple the Chogyal (ruler) of Sikkim, life was returning to normal on the weekend (April 14/15).

  • Description

    After two weeks of public demonstrations that threatened to topple the Chogyal (ruler) of Sikkim, life was returning to normal on the weekend (April 14/15).

    Chogyal Pladen Thondup Namgyal made his first public appearance since agitation began for democratic reforms in the tiny feudal kingdom high in the Himalayas.

    Agreement was announced after two days of talks between the top civil servant of India's External Affairs Ministry, India's Foreign Secretary, the Chogyal and Sikkim opposition leaders.

    India, which has been a protector of Sikkim under treaty for 23 years, intervened at the request of the Chogyal as agitation for reform along democratic lines threatened to topple him from power. The Indian intervention was welcomed by a joint action committee of the Sikkimese opposition, which had spearheaded the campaign for reform.

    Indian leaders had been concerned about the troubles in Sikkim because o its strategic proximity to The People's Republic of China.

    The intervention of India, while welcomed to cool the explosive situation, was seen as a blow to any early hopes by the Chogyal to move his tiny (64 by 110 kilometre) nation towards full independence from India -- like its eastern neighbour, Bhutan.

    The agreement reached in private meetings at the Chogyal's palace are believed to include electoral reforms -- demanded by the majority Nepali community -- and a written constitution that would limit and specify the powers of the Chogyal, who has ruled in outmoded feudal style, as head of state.

    During the troubles, as mobs controlled everything but the place, the 30-year-old Chogyal and his 32-year-old American-born wife--former New York socialite Hope Cooke, who is known as the 'Gyalmo' -- stayed in the royal grounds guarded by trusted Sikkims with automatic weapons.

    The Chogyal was supported by Bhutiya and Lepchas -- native Tibetans and Assamese, of the same community as their ruler -- while the majority Nepalese, who have settled in the tiny kingdom, led the agitation for reform.

    SYNOPSIS: After several weeks of turmoil, the tiny Himalaya kingdom of Sikkim is returning to normal.

    The ruler of Sikkim, Chogyal Pladen Thondup Namgyal and his wife, the Gyalmo, made their first public appearance on the weekend since the troubles began. Agitation for democratic reforms in the feudally-administered country had threatened to topple the fifty-year-old leader from power.

    Intervention by India and an agreement on reforms brought the Chogyal and family from the enforced seclusion of the royal palace.

    Sikkim opposition groups wanted electoral reforms and a written constitution setting out the Chogyal's powers, and both items are believed to be part of the settlement. Meanwhile the bazaars and street markets of the capital Gangtok, have replaced the angry mobs of recent weeks.

    Indian soldiers were expected to withdraw soon. The troops' presence is credited with dampening the explosive situation and re-opening communications and road links with the outside.

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