New Delhi, April 29
Sikh residents of Shillong’s Harijan Colony have been allegedly threatened by Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) for presenting a set of demands as precondition for vacating their ancestral homes in the colony.
KSU president Lambok Marngar has also warned the Meghalaya Government against entertaining the demands submitted by the Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC), which is spearheading the struggle of the Dalit Sikhs whose ancestors had first settled in the Harijan Colony neighbourhood after land was provided by the then Khasi chieftain of the area over a century ago.
There is unanimity among all those who call the shots in Meghalaya — the state government and insurgent organisation Hynniwtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) alike — that the Sikhs should vacate their Harijan Colony homes since the area has great commercial prospects.
Following an attack on the residents by the local Khasis in 2018, the state government constituted a high-level committee under the chairmanship of Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tyson to prepare a blueprint for the relocation of the residents of Harijan Colony.
Tired of the hostilities directed at them from multiple fronts, the residents have agreed to relocate provided they are given independent houses in some other area of the city. This has angered the KSU, which is dreaded by non-tribals living in Meghalaya. Describing the residents as illegal settlers, KSU general secretary Donald Thabah allegedly warned that if government conceded to the demand of the Sikhs, all hell would break loose.
North Shillong MLA Adelbert Nongrum representing “Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement” and Robertjune Kharjahrin, president of Hynniewtrem Youth Council, too, have also objected to the HPC’s demand for alternative housing.
The state government team led by the Deputy Chief Minister and the HPC are slated to meet in the second week of May to discuss the demands put forward by the HPC.
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