Effigy of football icon Bhaichung Bhutia burnt in Sikkim — Know why?
Effigy of footballer Bhaichung Bhutia was burned in South Sikkim. A video circulating on social media showed a few women in groups during the effigy burning while chanting the slogan - 'Bhaichung Bhutia Murdabad.'
The Northeast state of Sikkim witnessed protests against Indian football icon turned politician Bhaichung Bhutia after he opposed the construction of a 300-bed hospital in Namchi, South Sikkim. Bhutia said that the construction of the new hospital would compromise the famous 'veterinary ground', considered the only playground in Namchi.
Effigy of the footballer was burned at the Namchi Central Park Square in South Sikkim. A video circulating on social media showed a few women in groups during the effigy burning while chanting slogan - 'Bhaichung Bhutia Murdabad.'
Timeline of the incident
On June 5, Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay had laid the foundation stone for a 300-bed hospital in Namchi by razing the only playground in the district, where Bhutia had played.
Bhutia, who is the president of Hamro Sikkim Party, requested the government to stop the construction and start when the pandemic is over and shift the project from the only playground available in Namchi.
Nine people were arrested on Sunday, all of whom were seen as burning the effigy of the Sikkim icon. They have been released on bail as sections 188 IPC and 51 of DM act are bailable. The police will continue its search for six more persons accused in the case.
What was Bhaichung Bhutia's response?
In a video message from Mumbai, Bhutia told East Mojo, one of the leading news portals of Northeast India: "The CM said he already sanctioned Rs 80 crore for the project. If you used only Rs 20 crore from that sanctioned fund and devoted it to the existing hospitals, PHCs, dispensaries and increased the workforce, then Sikkim's COVID 19 scenario would not have so bad. So many people would not have died of COVID-19. Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay is well versed with the fact that 280 people have died of COVID-19 in Sikkim in the past year. Even now, Sikkim tops the death rate in the country in terms of its population and percentage."
He added that his Hamro Sikkim Party wrote to the government to start an economic package for taxi drivers and farmers among the poor population.
"If Rs 10 crore was used from the sanctioned fund and you gave Rs 20,000, almost 500 taxi drivers would have been covered and their families would be the beneficiaries. The same number of farmers would also benefit," Bhutia said.
Bhutia also clarified that he and his party are not opposing the hospital. "We are only suggesting that when the pandemic is controlled, when life is normal, then you make the hospital. I suggested taking the hospital to a better location, as the CM said the hospital would cater to patients from South and West Sikkim districts. The location from Jorethang to Melli or Reshi, Nandu Gaon, Golitar and Karfectar would be ideal both logistically and transportation-wise. It would be better for South and West Sikkim. Alongside, it would also be convenient for the people of Rangpo, Singtam in East Sikkim."
"We raised the issue of Bhaichung Stadium many times. In the previous election, unemployment was a major concern. We protested about the issue at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. But then the SDF government came forth and gave 20,000 jobs under the 'one family, one job' scheme. They didn't burn my effigy. But as an opposition party, alongside your party's Krantikari youth, we collectively fought for parivartan (change). Now we are questioning if we brought the right parivartan or the wrong parivartan."
Bhaichung said, "When there is a curfew imposed under the Disaster Management Act, people coming out in town protesting in the middle of the market area, while administration and government is not able to do anything. I want to request the Chief Minister and the state government to catch and punish the people who protested and violated the curfew."
"It can be made when the pandemic situation in Sikkim improves. Location-wise as well, the playground is not the place to construct a hospital. Find and shift the location to a better place."