India

Shillong Sikhs relieved as Minorities Commission vetos Meghalaya’s move to transfer them

Naveen Bharat Editorial

GUWAHATI: Sikhs of Shillong are relieved that the National Commission for Minorities has vetoed the Meghalaya government’s decision to relocate the residents of the hill station’s Harijan Colony.

The commission directed the government to maintain status quo in the matter as ordered by the High Court of Meghalaya twice earlier and submitted a detailed report.

The commission’s direction was based on suo motu cognizance of media reports on the government’s decision to shift employees of the Harijan Colony to Shillong Municipal Board and other departments and find an alternative location for the “illegal settlers”.

“The High Court had passed orders to maintain status quo. This matter is also under consideration of the Supreme Court. But, the Conrad Sangma-led government ignored these and announced that it would occupy 2.5 acres of land within a week,” said Gurjit Singh, secretary of the Harijan Panchayat Samiti (HPC).

He said the commission has directed the state government to submit “complete records” by October 15. He also said that taking cognizance of the report of the high level committee appointed by the government, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes decided to investigate the matter.

Singh said that the Scheduled Castes Commission has also sought detailed information from the government, failing which its representatives would be summoned.

The government’s decision on the transfer of workers and settlers was based on the report of the High Level Committee.

About 250 Sikh families have settled in Harijan Colony, also known as Punjabi Lane, for more than 200 years. This is a prime location.

HPC hopes that the commission will take the matter to its logical end.

“We are grateful to the National Commission for Minorities, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, Government of Punjab and Sikh bodies like Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Shiromani Akali Dal, United Sikhs and all other volunteers, activists and leaders. Those who stand by us in this hour of great difficulty as we are struggling to save our homes and livelihood.

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who has visited Shillong twice since 2018, when the government took steps to “evict” residents, assured Sikh leaders that he would meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Meghalaya CM. Will take up this matter with

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