Harijan Colony residents says ‘will live and die here’

Shillong, Nov 1: In a sharp reaction to the media announcement of the Government of Meghalaya taking

possession of the land of Punjabi lane, the Harijan Panchayat Committee and 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 move to relocate them.

“We will die in our homes here rather than be forcibly evicted,” Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) secretary, Gurjit Singh said.

Following the statement of the Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, that the land where Harijan Colony stands had been taken possession by the Urban Affairs Department the disturbed residents, went into a huddle and examined in detail the ramifications of the government’s manoeuvres.

At a meeting of the general body of the Harijan Panchayat Committee held on Sunday presided by Singh, Pastor Himanshu and Pirthi Das, after due
deliberations, several resolutions were passed to socially, legally, religiously and
politically challenge the intentions of the state government.

“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. The assurances of the government do not cut ice, in fact, they are full of loopholes and obfuscation of facts and
figures. Let it be known to all concerned that this is a fight for our survival and habitat and we will spare no effort to win this battle of honour, dignity and legitimate rights,” read the statement issued by the secretary of HPC.

Setting the tone for their anger and angst against the government, the residents in their first resolution, stated, “The tripartite agreement between the Government of Meghalaya, the Acting Syiem of Hima Mylliem and the Shillong Municipal Board is patently 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.” Singh said, it is ironic that instead of acknowledging the work of our people, the thanklessg overnment of Meghalaya and some groups are hell-bent on throwing the residents out withoutt aking their opinion and forcing its policy merely because the area now falls into a centralp art of the city.

The three chiefs of the religious institutions -Gurdwara Sahib, Hindu Temple and Church
will petition the office of the Governor of Meghalaya seeking his intervention as the government plans the blasphemous vicious move to demolish these places of worship for their petty pecuniary ends.

Speaking to a section of the media, Secretary HPC said, “Legally, we are in a strong position and we have no doubt whatsoever that the High
Court of Meghalaya status quo orders have been violated by the current moves of the government and when challenged the Courts will throw out and nullify this act of the state government taken under extraneous pressure and for political considerations.

“We 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 we expect them to reach Shillong to listen to our grievances,” Singh said.

The Sikh Sangat of Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar will soon start round the clock religious prayers to help them in this hour of crisis.

The President of the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Dabar -Gurjit Singh said, “Religious places of worship are
sacrosanct and cannot be demolished under any circumstances. I shudder to think of the consequences, should the Meghalaya government make a misadventure in this direction.”

Pastor Himanshu, while addressing the residents of the area at the Sunday meeting 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.”

Meanwhile, government is willing to discuss with the residents of Harijan Colony to find an amicable way to the issue of relocating them.

“Of course they are emotionally charged and they are giving statements. We are ready to talk to them, we are ready to discuss with them and find an amicable way in which we can resolve this issue,” the Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said.

“We will talk to the people. There might be some individuals (who are resisting) but if you look at the overall community and the people living there, all are not thinking along the same line,” Sangma added.

Hits: 122