Delhi govt in soup over ad showing Sikkim outside India

Delhi govt in soup over advertisement depicting Sikkim as separate country

Arvind Kejriwal file photo

An advertisement seeking Civil Defence volunteers have put Delhi government in a rough spot after it referred Sikkim as a separate country, prompting authorities to withdraw it and suspend a senior official of the Directorate of Civil Defence.

The advertisement issued by the Directorate of Civil Defence in newspapers on Saturday bore the photograph of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

The controversial part in the advertisement was about the eligibility criteria which said "citizens of India or subject of Sikkim or Bhutan or of Nepal and a resident of Delhi".

Sikkim joined the Indian union on May 16, 1975.

Interestingly, the Civil Defence Regulations, 1968 of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) continue to retain this formulation for eligibility. According to the regulations, a person who intends to apply for appointment of a Civil Defence Corps must fulfil the conditions, including "he shall be a citizen of India, or a subject of Sikkim or Bhutan or of Nepal".

As soon as the advertisement came in newspapers, Sikkim shot off a letter to Delhi government, saying it was "offensive" and must be withdrawn immediately since it is "immensely hurtful" to the people.

"This is immensely hurtful to the people of Sikkim who take pride in being the citizens of our great country, ever since it became the 22nd state of the Indian union on 16 May. 1975," Sikkim Chief Secretary S C Gupta wrote in his letter.
He also wanted the Delhi government to issue a "suitable communique" to assuage the feelings of the people of Sikkim.

As the controversy raged, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal tweeted, "a senior officer of Directorate of Civil Defence (HQ) has been suspended with immediate effect for publishing an Advertisement which disrespects the territorial integrity of India by making incorrect reference to Sikkim on the same lines as some neighbouring countries."

"Zero tolerance for such gross misconduct! Direction has also been given immediately to withdraw the offensive advertisement," he added.

Kejriwal too tweeted, "Sikkim is an integral part of India. Such errors also cannot be tolerated. Advertisement has been withdrawn and action taken against the officer concerned."

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