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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Govt blueprint for relocation is incomplete, unsuitable, unprepared, unfair and undemocratic: Harijan Panchayat


Shillong: The Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) on Thursday sent a “hard-hitting” reply to the government of Meghalaya proposal on relocation of 342 Harijans families from Ïew Mawlong, Shillong. In the reply, the HPC has termed the government’s proposal as “incomplete, unsuitable, unprepared, unfair and undemocratic.”

The HPC was given till April 10 to response on the government’s proposal for the relocation. The HPC after multiple rounds of consultation with its members has finally made the reply on April 20. However, Minister incharge of Urban, Sniawbhalang Dhar has stated that the government will move forward with its initial proposal.

In the written statement of the HPC it states that “There are serious lacunae, sweeping and undesirable conclusionsin the approach and attitude of theHigh-Level Committee of theMeghalaya government.”

“We are absolutely devastated that since the formation of the new government, ministers, MLAs and certain groups have been making unnecessary remarks saying that the whole issue would be resolvedwithin the month ofApril. What magical trick do they have up their sleeve to resolve the issue within days? The matter is sub- judice and they are only paying lip service to respect for the judiciary. We will not buckle under political duress”, further reads the statement from the Secretary of the HPC, Gurjit Singh.

The HPC leader said that they have attended meetings of the government in good faith but the government is resorting to misinformation and disinformation through the media and at the meetings, the only attitude is to overawe us into submission to their proposal.

“The language of the political leadership is one of intimidation. They are putting our lives and properties at risk and making us vulnerable,” added Singh.

The HPC has strongly alleged that the “entire exercise is an ill-founded relocation theory, which actually compels the resident citizens of the Punjabi Lane (Harian Colony) to forego their rights, title and interest over whatever small land portion in the colony and to accept the prisons cells like accommodation being offered in the proposed Blueprint.”

It maybe mentioned, the Singh have always reiterated that, “our original demands presented in the “Eight-point resolution” still stand and we will not buckle under political duress merely because it is convenient for the government to do so and simply because due topassage of time, the land has become a commercial goldmine.”

The HPC despite all odds, has been spearheading a battle for rights of the residents since the last three decades, has in its detailed reply to the government said that the disputed land belongs to the Syiem of Mylliem, and not to the government and any attempt by the government to buy it is violative of the Meghalaya Land Transfer Act.

With reference to the recent incident of 31 May 2018, the HPC has stated that “taking advantage of a stray case of discord, suddenly the “relocation theory” was resurfaced for political and vested interests. We have all the official documentation necessary to live as citizens at our ancestral land in Punjabi Lane.

The letter also pointed out gaping holes in the government’sblueprint -area too small and proposed houses pigeonholes, official building guidelines violated, no roadmap of demolition of present structures, no public amenities and last but not the least no specification of title tot h e land andt h e houses.

“There are so many grey areas and gaps. The government must clarify about all such concerns and only then it can be taken up for consideration byt h e Harijan Panchavat Committee, without prejudice to our right to reject the proposal” stated Gurjit Singh while speaking to media personnel.

Deriding the government’s haste, the HPC remarked, “It has been held by the Supreme Court of India and other courts as well that the right to lead a dignified life is an inalienable right and provisions of housing cannot be such that it is inhabitable forresidents to live there. In the lightof such judicial pronouncements, the residents are entitled to a better resolution.”

In an earnest appeal to the government and people of Meghalaya, Gurjit Singh said, “the government must stop the witch hunt and allow us to build our houses and we can assure that the beauty of the area will be fully maintained and for this the residents have the full support ofthe Sikh community.”

“The residents of Punjabi Lane want to live with honour and dignity at the land of their forefathers and it would be improper to treat them as aliens. The solution to this should be peaceful, amicable, mutual and permanent, without trampling on our fundamental rights,” he added.

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