The Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) has termed as incorrect the statement by Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong on the letter sent by the HPC to the State government regarding the proposed relocation plan of Sikh residents of Punjabi Lane at Them Iew Mawlong.
“It is a very casual and callous response and I am surprised that the Deputy Chief Minister should resort to stating facts in an incorrect manner,” HPC secretary Gurjit Singh said today.
“We are always ready for talks and as mentioned in our earlier reply, it is a position which we have stated many times to the government and to the High Court of Meghalaya. We have stated on many occasions that the solution to this vexed problem can be only through talks in a spirit of give and take as well as in recognising the rights of each and every citizen of the area, without pressure, duress and misrepresentation.”
On the statement by Tynsong that the State government would present all details to the High Court regarding the matter, Singh said, “I think, these details should have been presented earlier. The question that we have posed and to which the government has now reacted is why were details not presented earlier?”
Singh also said that it is unbecoming of the Deputy Chief Minister to misrepresent facts to the public through media.
“The blueprint presented to us is incomplete, there is no timeline, there are residents living there, the proposed homes are pigeonholes, the question of title to the area to be given to families has not been specified. How can we play a blind game with the lives of hundreds of families -men, women and children,” Singh added.
The HPC secretary also expressed shock over the doubt expressed by Tynsong that the Sikh residents have been living in the area for 160 years.
“May we remind the Deputy Chief Minister and the people of Meghalaya that we have been here since 1863 and we are in possession of authentic documents under the name and seal of the Syiem of Hima Mylliem,” Singh said.
He also stated that in a letter of 2008, the Syiem of Mylliem had said, inter alia, “…the plot of land was allotted to them a long time back by the predecessors of the Syiem of Hima Mylliem till today.”
“In another 1954 document, it is categorically mentioned that the land belongs to the residents of the Harijan Colony. Also, there are many other historical references as to how our forefathers were brought here by the then British army higher-ups from Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts of Punjab,” the HPC secretary said.
“In fact, by virtue of the fact that we are here for more than two centuries, makes us also historical residents and by virtue of tradition and culture, we too become indigenous peoples,” Singh said.
He also said that by asking them for an appropriate accommodation, the Sikh residents of the area are demanding their rights and not seeking a merciful largesse from the government.
“Let it be known to everyone, loud and clear, that we are legitimate residents of the Punjabi Lane,” he asserted.
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