Conrad meets Union Minister, assures safety to Harijan Colony

Residents against relocation but want beautification & development

By Our Reporter

SHILLONG: Union Cabinet Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal member Harsimrat Kaur Badal met Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and Health Minister AL Hek in New Delhi on Sunday and discussed the Hairjan Colony issue.
An official source said Conrad could not meet Home Minister Amit Shah as the latter was busy.
The meeting assured to provide safety to the residents of Harijan Colony.
Gobind Singh Langowal, President, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee ( SGPC), Manjinder Singh Sirsa, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Gurjit Singh, Secretary Harijan Panchayat Committee and president of City Gurdwara Management Committee among others were present in the meeting.
Gurjit said on phone from Delhi that it was reiterated in his letter addressed to the chief minister that there should not be any relocation of the residents of Haijan Colony as it is against the Constitution of India and instead the government can beautify and develop the area.
He also said the chief minister was apprised of the threat issued by HNLC and other adverse comments from certain quarters, including those from Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, who is the chairman of the High Level Committee,
The residents wanted the government to ensure safety and security.
The government had on May 31 imposed section 144 CrPC to prevent any adverse law and order situation on the first anniversary of the unrest in the city.
Earlier, the Akali leaders had apprised the Union Home Minister about the issues related to Harijan Colony.
According to Gurjit, the chief minister has conveyed in the meeting that the High Level Committee will take an appropriate decision regarding the matter.
While expressing concern over the varied statements of chairman of HLC Tynsong about the ownership of area under Harijan Colony, Gurjit pointed out that while Tynsong had in May said that 13, 000 squre feet was under the Shillong Municipal Board and the rest belonged to Syiem of Mylliem, in a recent statement, the deputy chief minister said the entire area belonged to the civic body.
In the letter to the chief minister, Gurjit said for more than 200 years, the Sikh community has been engaging in cleaning and scavenging works in Shillong and the plan to evict them may be a ‘reward’ for their service.
Gurjit also said that the Sikh community in Shillong is known for maintaining communal harmony.
 He said the Guru Nanak Upper Primary School caters to all communities, including the locals and is built on land for which the Harijan Panchayat Committee has a patta.
Stating that the residents of Harijan Colony are citizens of Meghalaya and natives of the state, Gurjit reminded that there have been several attempts to dislodge the community from the area and cited incidents of arson in 1996.
He also hoped that the state government will continue to provide security in the wake of HNLC threat.
Gurjit reiterated that the residents of the Hairjan Colony want a thorough understanding of the Sikhs in Shillong and not falsification of facts.
“We are the legal heirs to the land donated to us by the tribal king centuries ago and this right is non- negotiable”, he said.
According to the Sikh leader, both the state and the Centre should formulate an all-encompassing proposal for the development of the area without sacrificing their right. “Till any such development, status quo ante should be maintained”, Gurjit said.
He also said the HLC is bad in law and the proceedings related to relocation were stayed by National Minorities Commission, National Human Rights Commission and the High Court of Meghalaya.
Gurjit also reminded that the NHRC had directed the government to change the name of the locality from Sweepers Colony to Punjabi Colony.
He also urged the chief minister to convene a meeting of all the stakeholders to ensure peace in the area.

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