Gurjit Singh

Shillong: In a sharp reaction to the media announcement of the Government of Meghalaya taking possession of the land of Punjabi lane, the Harijan Panchayat Committee and devotees of Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar, the hindu temples and the Church of North India – all located in the area have categorically rejected the government’s move.

They said “we will die in our homes here rather than be forcibly evicted”.

Following the statement of Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, two days ago, that a sum of Rs 2 crore has been paid to the Syiem of Hima Mylliem, whereby the Harijan Colony now belongs to the Urban Affairs Department and the said department will beautify the area “in its own wisdom”, the disturbed residents went into a huddle and examined in detail the ramifications of the government’s manoeuvres.

At a meeting of the general body of Harijan committee on Sunday presided over by Gurjit Singh, Pastor Himanshu and Pirthi Das, after due deliberations, several resolutions were passed to socially, legally, religiously and politically challenge the intentions of the state government.

“We have examined the latest developments and we will give sleepless nights to the government. The assurances of the government do not cut ice; they are full of loopholes and obfuscation of facts and figures. Let it be known to all concerned that this is a fight for our survival and habitat, and we will spare no effort to win this battle of honour, dignity and legitimate rights,” read a statement by Gurjit Singh, secretary, Harijan Panchayat Committee.

Voicing their anger, the residents said, “The tripartite agreement between the Government of Meghalaya, the acting Syiem of Hima Mylliem and the Shillong Municipal Board is patently illegal, malafide and a clear violation of the constitutional and fundamental rights of the residents of Punjabi Lane, whose forefathers came here some 200 years ago and who have served Meghalaya honestly and diligently doing manual scavenging and other menial tasks.”

The three chiefs of the religious institutions -Gurdwara Sahib, Hindu Temple and Church will now petition the office of the Governor of Meghalaya, seeking his intervention.

The committee said they are in a strong position legally and that they are confident the courts will nullify this act of the state when challenged. They said they have also approached the National Commission for Minorities, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Safai Karamcharis and National Human Rights Commission.

Besides, there is now growing interest amongst Sikhs across the globe, who have assured us that they will join this holy fight with the government of Meghalaya to save our home, Singh said.

CM invites Harijan Committee for talks

Meanwhile, Meghalaya CM Conrad K Sangma on Monday said the government was open for talks with the Harijan Panchayat Committee.

Reacting to the committee’s statement, Sangma said everybody has to move in a legal manner and nobody can go above the law. “Of course they are emotionally charged and giving statements, but we are ready to talk to them and discuss and find an amicable solution,” added Sangma.

Reiterating that they are committed to finding a solution to this long pending issue, Sangma stated that for the first time the state government has taken a very strong step towards resolving this long-pending issue.

“This might be some individuals mentioning this but if you look at the overall community and people living there, all are not thinking on the same lines,” he added.

So far around 40 families working in the Shillong Municipal Board have already shifted from the area.

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