Stating that they will not succumb to any pressure, the Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) on Thursday written to the East Khasi Hills deputy commissioner Isawanda Laloo seeking no intervention by the district authorities by any quarters in the matter of relocation of poor Sikhs of the Harijan Colony in Shillong as the matter is subjudice.
After an emergency meeting of the residents of the Harijan Colony at the local Gurdwara Sahib, the HPC also requested the DC to provide provision of more security to the poor Sikh dwellers of the Harijan Colony and other parts of the district.
In a statement, HPC secretary Gurjit Singh said that the decision was taken after some self-anointed leaders with no locus-standi are petitioning the office of the Deputy Commissioner of East Khasi Hills District for relocation of the residents of the Harijan Colony in the Punjabi Lane area and some are alleging no action by the government of Meghalaya after the submission of the report by the High-Level Committee.
“(However), the HPC categorically states that as the matter is subjudice in the High Court of Meghalaya at Shillong as well as the apex court of the land -the Supreme Court of India, any intervention by any office in this regard would amount to contempt of court,” Singh said.
According to him, the HPC is of the considered view that these statements are being issued to overawe us to create hatred in the minds of poor Sikhs people of the colony.
This came after an advocate Erwin K Syiem Sutnga had petitioned to the DC seeking relocation of over 300 families from the Sweeper’s Colony at Them Iew Mawlong as per The Meghalaya Land Transfer Act.
Singh however reacted by saying, “In their zeal to get publicity and political mileage, these outrageous utterances are endangering the peace and security of the people of the area. For the last two hundred years, we have been peace-loving people, we have worked very hard to earn our livelihood and we have contributed substantially to the welfare of the people of the area.”
The HPC further maintained that they will not succumb to any pressure and will be constrained to proceed legally in the matter.
“All the matters published in the media have already been submitted to the National Commission for Minorities and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes. The call for relocation of our people under the Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) Act 1971, made by a local lawyer is misguided, irrelevant and sinister. The provisions of the said Act are not applicable to us. Had it been relevant, the state would have initiated proceedings soon after the promulgation of the Act. To make reference to the Act, 50 years hence is malafide and a clear breach of the status quo order of the High Court. In fact, it is a contempt of court,” he said.
The HPC secretary said that such utterances have caused unnecessary hardship and pain to the residents as they have been living in Meghalaya when customary law was prevalent and the modern laws were not even in the statute.
He added, it is indeed disturbing that while the matter is still under consideration of the government and the judiciary, inimical elements are creating a climate of fear and hatred against the poor Sikhs of the area.
The HPC also reiterated that following a writ petition in the High Court of Meghalaya at Shillong, Justice S R Sen, in his order dated 5 February 2019 categorically stated that the Harijan Colony people are not to be disturbed in any manner and also facilitated the placement of security for the protection of the dwellers.
It also stated that Chief Justice R More of the High Court of Meghalaya, in his order dated 9 April 2021 directed that the status quo be maintained by both parties with regard to the Harijan Colony.
“This misadventure must be stopped. It is high time to maintain peace and harmony in society,” the HPC asserted.