The residents of Punjabi Lane at Them Iew Mawlong in Shillong on Tuesday vowed to give “sleepless nights” to the Meghalaya government for its decision to relocate them. The state government had last week taken possession of the 12,444.13 sq m land at Iew Mawlong to relocate the residents of the colony.
Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said Rs 2 crore was given to Syiem of Hima Mylliem — the local cheftian, and the Urban Affairs Department will beautify the area. At a meeting of the Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) — which represents the Dalit Sikh community in Shillong — on Sunday, several resolutions were passed to socially, legally, religiously and politically challenge the move of the state government.
In a statement, HPC secretary Gurjit Singh said 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’s move while declaring, “We will die in our homes here rather than be forcibly evicted”.
“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,” he said, adding that the assurances were full of loopholes and obfuscation of facts and figures. Singh said it was a fight for their survival and habitat and no effort will be spared to stop the government’s move.
“The tripartite agreement between the Government of Meghalaya, the Acting Syiem of Hima Mylliem and the Shillong Municipal Board is 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,” he said.
He said that instead of acknowledging the contributions of the people of the area, the state government was hell-bent on throwing them out and forcing its policy because the area is in the central part of the city.
The governor will be petitioned, seeking his intervention as the government plans the “blasphemous vicious move to demolish these places of worship”, he said. Singh said that they 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 expect them to reach Shillong to listen to their grievances.
The Sikh Sangat of Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar will soon start round-the-clock prayers supplicating to help the people to tide over the crisis, he said. Addressing the locals at the Sunday meeting, Pastor Himanshu said, “Undoubtedly, we are in a very difficult situation. Let us stay united and pray so that better sense prevails and the powers that be are blessed to think of the common good and not just for a select section of the population.”
Singh said Sikhs from across the world have assured them to be a part of the movement against the government’s decision.
The state government decided to relocate the Sikh residents from the area on the recommendation of a high-level committee headed by the deputy chief minister. The committee, formed in June 2018, was tasked to resolve the decades-old land dispute in the area after violent clashes between Khasis and Sikhs the previous month.