June 21, 2018 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Chandigarh: The Sikh residents of the Punjabi Lane area of Shillong on Wednesday protested against Meghalaya government’s plans to relocate them from their place of inhabitants. The Meghalaya government is conducting a survey to relocate the Sikh inhabitants.
The Conrad Sangma government on June 4 had announced setting up of a high-level committee to “settle the land dispute” but it seems that the government is planning to fulfil the demand of Khasi tribe to evict Sikhs from Punjabi Lane area.
Notably, Sikhs were subjected to violence by member of Khasi community after a reported altercation between Sikh women from Punjabi Lane area and a city bus driver and conductor on May 31.
After the news regarding the violence against the Sikhs broke out, Capt. Amarinder Singh government in Punjab had sent a four-member team headed by Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa to Shillong. The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), Shiromani Akali Dal Delhi (Sarna group) and the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC) had also sent delegations to Shillong. However, there seems to be no resolution.
The 350-odd Sikh families living at Punjabi Lane are worried the government will evict them from land where they have been living for almost two centuries. The land, they claim, was donated by a Khasi tribal chieftain to them before 1863, notes a report in Times of India (ToI).
A report in The Shillong Times (ST) notes that SAD (Sarna) chief Paramjit Singh Sarna opposed the relocation proposed and supported the Sikh families of Punjabi lane.
According to The Shillong Times (ST) the Sikh delegation said that the main problem was relocation. “We disagree with this and the government should rehabilitate the people in the place where they reside and the government can develop the area”, Sarna reportedly said.
Gurjit Singh, general secretary of Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar in Shillong reportedly told ToI, “We vehemently oppose the survey since relocation is not acceptable to us.”
He reportedly said that there was no follow up from Sikh delegations that had visited Shillong after the violence.
Billu Singh, headman, Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) reportedly said they had rejected the terms of high-level committee constituted by the chief minister. The committee represents the stakeholders of Punjabi Lane locality.
“We welcome the chief minister’s efforts to find a solution to the issues faced by the stakeholders of Punjabi Lane, but the panchayat, City Gurdwara Management Committee, and stakeholders of Punjabi Lane do not accept the relocation of the Punjabi Lane as a term of reference of the committee,” he said.
Supporting his stance, Gurjit Singh said: “We unequivocally state that all the stakeholders of the Punjabi Lane do not agree to any relocation. We request the Meghalaya government to draw up a plan to develop Punjabi Lane that accommodates the rights and needs of all the stakeholders.”