New Delhi, April 1
Facing eviction threats, Dalit Sikhs living in Meghalaya capital Shillong’s Harijan Colony are counting on the newly elected AAP government in Punjab and Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann for intervention on their behalf.
Harijan Colony dwellers stare at eviction
Previous Cong govt in Punjab had sent teams to Meghalaya to talk to government... We expect Bhagwant Mann govt to do likewise. Gurjit Singh, Harijan Committee Chief
“The previous Congress government in Punjab had sent teams to Meghalaya to talk to the state government to prevent it from forcing us to vacate our ancestral homes. The SGPC had also sent representatives to Shillong to talk to the CM and Home Minister. We expect the Bhagwant Mann government also to do likewise,” said Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) president Gurjit Singh while talking to The Tribune from Shillong. The HPC is spearheading the struggle against the eviction.
The Meghalaya Government’s move to evict the residents of Harijan Colony has been challenged by the HPC in the High Court where the case would come up for hearing on April 7. “The court had earlier directed the Meghalaya Government to talk to us on relocation. We also wrote to the government that we are ready for negotiations. But till now, no one has contacted us,” said Gurjit. He said the committee constituted by the state government to formulate a “relocation” plan had failed to involve the residents at any stage. The HPC president said they would soon make a representation before Bhagwant Mann.
The ancestors of present dwellers of Harijan Colony had come to Shillong with British troops in the 18th century to work as manual scavengers. The area, allocated to the Dalit Sikhs by the then Khasi tribal chief, promises huge commercial prospects now as it is located between two main business districts of Shillong. In 2018, Harijan Colony residents were attacked by local tribal boys in a flare-up involving the two communities.
He said as per the government’s own estimation, 128 employees of the Shillong Municipal Board lived in Harijan Colony. He said there were 56 more Dalit Sikhs in the colony who were employees in various departments of Meghalaya Government.
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