16 May

India annexes Sikkim after the mountain state holds a referendum in which the popular vote is in favour of merging with India.

Located in the Himalayan mountains, the state is bordered by Nepal to the west, China’s Tibet Autonomous Region to the north and east, and Bhutan to the east. The Indian state of West Bengal lies to the south.

Sikkim_area_map.svg

In 1947, when India became independent, a popular vote rejected Sikkim joining the Indian Union, although a treaty was made between India and Sikkim in 1950, in the interest of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. That Indo-Sikkim treaty gave Sikkim an Indian protectorate status. Sikkim came under the suzerainty of India, which controlled its external affairs, defence, diplomacy and communications, but Sikkim otherwise retained administrative autonomy.

A state council was established in 1953 to allow for constitutional government under the Chogyal (Monarch). Meanwhile, the Sikkim National Congress demanded fresh elections and greater representation for Nepalis in Sikkim. Palden Thondup Namgyal, the Chogyal at the time, proved to be extremely unpopular with the people. In 1973, riots in front of the Chogyal’s palace led to a formal request for protection from India.

In 1975, the Prime Minister of Sikkim appealed to the Indian Parliament for Sikkim to become a state of India. In April of that year, the Indian Army took over the city of Gangtok and disarmed the Chogyal’s palace guards. Thereafter, a referendum was held in which 97.5 per cent of voters supported abolishing the monarchy, effectively approving union with India. On 16 May 1975, Sikkim became the 22nd state of the Indian Union, and the monarchy was abolished. To enable the incorporation of the new state, the Indian Parliament amended the Indian Constitution. First, the 35th Amendment laid down a set of conditions that made Sikkim an “Associate State”, a special designation not used by any other state. Later, the 36th Amendment repealed the 35th Amendment, and made Sikkim a full state, adding its name to the First Schedule of the Constitution.