SHILLONG: The residents of Harijan Colony have written to Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma reiterating that their right to residence in the colony is not negotiable, and any attempt by the Government of Meghalaya to relocate, dislocate or evict them is in violation of the Constitution of India.
“We are categorical that relocating us to another place is neither feasible nor acceptable and is completely against the Constitution of India,” Gurjit Singh, president, City Gurudwara Management Committee, Shillong, and secretary, Harijan Panchayat Committee, said in the letter to the Chief Minister.
He also said that the residents believe that with the intervention of the Sikh bodies, the Central government and the Punjab government – a proposal should be drafted for the beautification and development of the nearly two acres of land which legitimately belongs to them, by fully regularizing their rights and passing on the right to property to all the residents living there and the proposal must have the approval of the Harijan Panchayat Committee and all residents of the area.
“The Government of Meghalaya must ensure that we are given permanent land record papers, as we possess the traditional land records given to our forefathers by the then traditional rulers of the land,” Singh said in the letter to Conrad even as he added that suddenly, the present Meghalaya government is in overdrive to evict them from their homes.
The secretary of the Harijan Panchayat Committee said that it is disturbing and despicable that Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong has been issuing public statements to overawe them by stating that the residents will have to accept relocation.
“The High Level Committee headed by him has not had one official interaction with the Harijan Panchayat Committee and has been working in a rather dictatorial manner,” Singh added.
He also alleged that instead of acknowledging the situation of the poor residents in the colony and caring for them, ministers are resorting to insinuations and lies.
The Harijan Panchayat Committee also gave a seven-point memorandum to the Chief Minister reiterating that the residents of the colony seek a thorough understanding of the status of Sikhs in Shillong and not falsification and obfuscation of facts, that they are legal heirs to the land donated by the Syiem of Mylliem centuries ago and this right was non-negotiable.
Singh also pointed out that the State and the Central governments in full and complete consultation with the Harijan Panchayat Committee must formulate an all-encompassing proposal for the development of the area without sacrificing their rights in any way, adding that till such a development takes place in a democratic and appropriate manner status quo must be maintained.
The secretary of the Harijan Committee also urged the authorities to change the name of the colony from ‘Sweepers’ Colony’ to ‘Punjabi Colony’.