The Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) today said that the Chief Minister should give them a formal agenda-based invitation for any discussion but it should also recognise their existence and presence.
Responding to the recent statement of Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma that the government is keen to solve the Sweepers Lane conundrum in an amicable fashion, the HPC said it was upset at this because the government is “holding an olive branch in one hand and wielding the axe with another”, by talking about unilateral eviction of the people from the Sweeper Lane.
HPC secretary, Gurjit Singh in a statement today said they appreciate the positive change of heart of the Chief Minister in his public statement but stated, “This is a litmus test for the honesty, justice and integrity of the Meghalaya government. It is also the test of out tenacity and determination to fight back and save our homes. We are committed to holding on till our last breath and Sikh history bears testimony to our determination.”
Singh said that the HPC was never invited by the High Level Committee not even once for a discussion ever since it was instituted in 2018 to solve the Sweeper Lane conundrum.
On the 40 individuals (and their families) who have been resettled from the colony as claimed by the government, Singh said the government should produce the names and details of the families.
The HPC also believes that the State government is hiding facts for not disclosing the contents of the tripartite agreement reached with the Acting Syiem of Hima Mylliem and the Urban Affairs Department. “What is so sacrosanct that it is not being made available even through RTI? Is it that the March 31, 2020 is an ex-post-facto afterthought to circumvent contempt of court? Is it that it has signed the agreement with the Acting Syiem while he cannot legally dot it? Is it also not true that the youth Acting Syiem has been put under pressure to execute the document?” Singh questioned.
Singh said that the government should honour the order of the High Court made on February 15, 2019 where it directed the government not to disturb the residents of the area without civil proceedings regarding the title of land and another order passed on April 9, 2021 for a status quo and the stay orders of the National Commission for Minorities and the National Human Rights Commission.
The HPC also accused the government of forcing its people into submission by segregating them by shifting government offices and employees to an “unknown designated area.”
“We have yet to fathom why the government is eyeing only our 2.5 acres of land? This is clear discrimination against Sikhs. There are so many other occupants untouched by the Meghalaya government,” the committee rue.
Calling their area an abode that has historic importance, Singh said their benign sentiments are attached to it and they cannot think of returning to Punjab. “We lived here with the ignominy of our area being derogatorily called the Sweepers Colony to this day. This institutional shame is a permanent scar,” he added.
The HPC also warned against any proposed demolition of all religious places in the area.