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 the 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 move.
Following the statement of the Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong two days ago that a sum of Rs 20 million had 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, in the last two days went into a huddle and examined in detail the ramifications of the government's manoeuvres.
At a meeting of the general body of the Harijan Panchayat Committee held 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 let me say with all the authority at my command that we will give sleepless nights to the government. The assurances of the government do not cut ice, in fact, 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," Gurjit Singh, secretary Harijan Panchayat Committee said.
Setting the tone for their anger and angst against the government, the residents in their first resolution, stated that, "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."
"It is ironic that instead of acknowledging the work of our people, the Government of Meghalaya and some groups are hell bent on throwing us out without taking our opinion and forcing its policy merely because the area now falls into a central part of the city," he added.
The three chiefs of the religious institutions -Gurdwara Sahib, Hindu Temple and Church will submit a petition to the office of the Governor of Meghalaya seeking his intervention.
Speaking to a section of the media, Gurjit Singh, secretary of Harijan Panchayat Committee, said, "Legally, we are in a strong position and we have no doubt whatsoever that the High Court of Meghalaya status quo orders have been violated by the current moves of the government and when challenged, the courts will throw out and nullify this act of the State Government taken under extraneous pressure and for political considerations. We have approached the National Commission for Minorities, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Safai Karamcharis and the National Human Rights Commission and we expect them to reach Shillong to listen to our grievances," he said.