Move to relocate Sweepers’ Colony hits roadblock

Shillong, Oct 10: The Sikh community in Shillong has welcomed a number of developments which may scuttle the recommendations made by the Meghalaya Government’s High Level Committee to relocate the Sweepers’ Colony from Them Iew Malong.
These developments have come in the form of a stay order on the part of the National Commission for Minorities, Scheduled Caste Commission investigation, Punjab government intervention and DSGMC support against the Meghalaya government’s intended move in this regard.
“While we are reeling under the pressure of the utterances and actions of the HLC of the Meghalaya government for the past three years, it has come as a matter of great relief that governmental institutions have responded with support for the poor Sikhs of Shillong, residing in the Punjabi lane for the last more than 200 years,” Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) secretary Gurjit Singh said in a statement issued today.
The National Commission for Minorities, in a statement on October 8, has stated – The Commission has taken suo-moto cognizance of the news reported in the print media regarding the decision of the state government (of Meghalaya) to shift the employees of Shillong Municipal Board (SMB) and other departments of the government of Meghalaya from the Harijan colony and to find a an alternative location for relocating the ‘illegal settlers’.
NCM chief Iqbal Singh Lalpura clearly stated, ‘Accordingly the Commission has directed the Chief Secretary of Meghalaya to furnish a detailed report and to maintain status quo in the matter as directed by the High Court of Meghalaya’.
Singh said the Meghalaya High Court at Shillong has passed orders for status quo and the matter is under consideration of the Supreme Court of India, still, the Conrad Sangma-led government has ignored these and has announced that they will take possession of the 2.5 acres of the land within a week.
“The HPC, on behalf of the hundreds of families living from hand to mouth in the Punjabi Lane area, which earlier was a nondescript area, but now has become a prime area, expresses relief at this order and hopes that the Commission will take this matter to its logical conclusion and save the poor Sikhs of Shillong,” the secretary added.
“We are grateful to the National Minorities Commission, Scheduled Caste Commission, Punjab government and Sikh bodies – DSGMC and SGPC, Shirmani Akali Dal, United Sikhs and all other volunteers, activists and leaders who have stood by us in this hour of great difficulty, when we struggle to save our dwellings and livelihood,” he added.
He also claimed that it is reliably learnt that the National Commission for Minorities has summoned the government of Meghalaya, with full records on October 15.
The poor Mazhabi Sikhs of the Bara Bazar area have been running from pillar to post, knocking on the doors of all governmental organizations.
Singh also said that the HPC is glad to note that the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, has also taken suo-moto cognizance of the taking up of the HLC report by the Meghalaya government and ‘the Commission has decided to investigate/inquire into the matter in pursuance of the powers conferred upon it under Article 338 of the Constitution of India’.
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes has solicited detailed information, failing which the Commission would summon the representatives of the Meghalaya government.
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who has visited Shillong twice since the illegal move of the Meghalaya government to relocate the Sikh settlers in 2018, has told a section of the media, “I strongly oppose the attempts to relocate Sikhs in Shillong and I will take up this matter with the Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma.”
“The Punjab government has intervened in the past and will intervene again,” he warned.
Similarly, DSGMC president Majinder Singh Sirsa has promised full logistical support as they have been given for the last three years.
“It is the duty of the Harijan Panchan Committee to protect the lives and rights of the poor Sikhs of Shillong and we will do so at all costs and will not allow the High-Level Committee to have their illegal way,” said HPC secretary.