June 29, 2018 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Chandigarh: The Meghalaya government seems adamant of displacing Shillong Sikhs from Punjabi Lane area that is inhabited by Sikhs for almost two past two centuries. The government has reportedly completed its so-termed relocation survey in which government officials recorded head-counts of Sikhs, marked their houses and other properties in the Punjabi Lane area.
A news reported by news agency UNI, on June 26, noted that local Sikhs refused to cooperate with the Shillong Municipal Board (SMB) authorities to conduct the inventory survey and head counts of the people residing in the Punjabi Lane area.
According to a recent report in The Tribune (TT), “The High Level Committee (HLC) set up by Meghalaya Government to look into the long-standing demand for relocation of Sikh Colony (Punjabi Lane) in Shillong, is waiting for the report of the land survey conducted in the colony by the Directorate of Land Records and Survey last week”.
As per Shillong Times, United Democratic Party senior working president, Bindo Lanong has said that the Sikhs should see reason to resolve the current conflict by accepting the government’s relocation proposal. UDP is a constituent in ruling power alliance in Meghalaya.
“They should amicably resolve the conflict with local NGOs, once and for all, rather than fight a losing battle, since they are the holders of municipal workers’ status till date,” Lanong said.
Even though Sikhs were legally settled in Shillong during the then British rulers in 1863, Meghalayan politician said: “their claim of being permanent settlers in the colony afforded to them by the then British officers and the chief of Mylliem state should remain part of history”.
“At some point of time, the successive Syiems of Mylliem had renewed the pattas of settlers, which again suffers from legal hurdle,” Lanong reportedly said.
Despite continuous opposition from the Sikh population of Punjabi Lane area in Shillong, which comprises nearly 350 families, the government is moving forward with it’s plan to displace them from their place of settled inhabitance. The concerned land, which is around two acres, is reportedly in the heart of the city and is of high commercial value.
It is notable that Sikhs were targeted by members of Khasi tribe after 31 May incident of altercation involving few women from Punjabi lane and a bus conductor and driver belonging to Khasi community. Shillong remained under curfew after Sikh houses in Punjabi lane were targeted and even some premises were set ablaze. Adhering to demand of Khasi community, the Meghalaya government initiating proceedings for relocating the Punjabi Lane Sikhs.