Mass demonstrations in the feudal Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim last week seem to have resulted in agreement for democratic reforms.
Mass demonstrations in the feudal Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim last week seem to have resulted in agreement for democratic reforms. Earlier, the breakdown of law and order led to a request by the ruler, Chogyal Pladen Thondup Namgyal, to take over the administration.
A report on Thursday (April 12), when part of this coverage was filmed, suggested that Sikkim was on the road back to normality. But at that time, an estimated five-thousand demonstrators were still camping out at the Pal Jor Stadium in Gangtok, while small detachments of Indian troops kept watch on them. One of the demonstrator's leaders collected signatures for a petition calling on the Chogyal to abdicate.
Throughout the previous 10 days of political disorder, the 50-year-old Chogyal and his American-born wife have remained in the Royal Palace -- which was still being guarded by Indian troops on Thursday. But in the city, thee were signs of tension relaxing as shops and markets reopened for business.
Another aspect of the Sikkim situation is covered in our production number 3553/73 Sikkim: Opposing sides in recent political unrest discuss proposed democratic reforms, also serviced on 14 April 1973.
SYNOPSIS: In the feudal Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim, the breakdown of law and order last week lad the ruler to call in Indian troops for protection. They were still in the capital, Gangtok, on Thursday keeping a wary eye on the five-thousand hardcore demonstrators camping out in a city stadium. For ten days before, mobs had controlled everything in the tiny Indian protectorate, demanding reforms and the abdication of the ruler. Even after India's intervention, malcontents continued to demonstrate and to control vital road links into the kingdom. They also controlled the distribution of supplies.
At the stadium, Mr. Khati Ware -- a leader of the demonstrators -- collected signatures for a petition demanding the ruler's abdication.
Indian troops also stood watch at the royal palace where the ruler -- the Chogyal -- and his American-born wife had remained during the disorders. Since he had called upon the Indians to intervene, the situation -- even the demonstrations -- had generally been peaceful and the troops had been wary of using force. By Thursday, shops and bazaars wee open for business as usual. But with demonstrators still controlling the roads, salt, rice and vegetables were in short supply. And there was no fuel for the still-paralysed public transport.