Thursday, May 22, 2014

SKM-SDF stare-down at MG Marg, police intervention defuses situation

GANGTOK, 21 May: The government formation day today almost lapsed into an anticlimax of sorts here at MG Marg in a replay of the bitter and violent election campaign. While the Chief Minister was distributing portfolios to his Cabinet, down at MG Marg, SDF and SKM supporters and lieutenants were lined up in a standoff which lasted the better part of an hour.
The two groups were locked in a confrontation near Star Cinema at New Market with just about 15 meters between them and a cordon of Sikkim Police and SAP personnel. It took tremendous negotiation skills on the part of the Sikkim Police to persuade party supporters on both sides to withdraw their aggressive posturing and cool down their sloganeering.
Sikkim Armed Police personnel were also called into duty in case the situation got out of hand.
The intervention on the part of the Sikkim Police may have been late to start with. The SKM party supporters were first in the main bazaar area with sloganeering and bursting of crackers which they did with aplomb in the square in front of the Tourist Information Centre; following this they headed back to Star Hall at the junction of New Market and Namnang.
Not to be outdone, the SDF was soon on to the scene with their cache of firecrackers which they burst for over half an hour at the same place.  Later, led by former Speaker, KT Gyalsten, Deputy Mayor, Shakti Singh and Arithang Councillor, Ashish Rai there was an impromptu rally right up to Star Cinema with robust sloganeering as well. It was here that the two parties had a stand-off with party flags flying, intense slogan shouting and excited passersby and tourists clicking away at the photo op.
The police kept a tight rein on supporters of both parties with the help of SAP, not allowing them to break the cordon and make a move on the other group. Soon the SP-East, Manoj Tiwari arrived on the scene and both groups were persuaded to disperse.
“There is no law and order problem, political supporters are celebrating their victories with bursting of crackers and the police is here to make sure that they do not get out of hand. It has been a long electoral process and the Sikkim Police has maintained law and order and will continue to do so”, stated the SP East.

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