Shillong Sikhs worry contemporary drive to evict them


Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, December 9

Sikhs of Shillong have appealed to various organisations in Punjab, including the state government, to not lose sight of the grave danger the Sikhs are living in the Meghalaya capital to continue to face from parochial Khasi organisations.

The picturesque hill town—also known as “Scotland of the East”—is witnessing an agitation by Khasi tribals for the introduction of the inner line permit (IPL) system to make the state out of bounds for people from outside unless the visitor owned a permit issued by the state government.

Khasi miscreants have often targetted Bengali living in the region, but there has been a sudden increase in racial attacks which has prompted the Bengalis of Shillong to write to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for aid.

Amid the disturbances, the Khasi exclusivist organisations have also turned their attention to Shillong-based Sikhs making members of the community nervous.

Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organisations (COMSO)—an umbrella outfit of 11 Khasi organisations—on Tuesday, expressed disappointment over the delay by the High-Level Committee in submitting its final recommendation regarding the relocation of Harijan Colony.

“There is nothing communal in it (in the demand for the relocation of the colony where Dalit Sikhs—whose ancestors had come to Shillong with British colonial troops over a century ago—reside ), and it is mainly for the reconstruction, and redevelopment of the site as the areas are unhygienic and unsafe”, said COMSO, chairman, Robertjune Kharjahrin.

“I don’t know why it is taking so much time to evict illegal settlers”, wondered Kharjahrin.

He further added that the Syiem (local Khasi chieftain) of Hima Mylliem (name of the Khasi chiefdom) had made up its mind to hand over the land to the government.

Gurjit Singh, chief of the Harijan Colony panchayat told the Tribune News Service over the phone from Shillong, that the only objective of the COMSO, and even the High-powered Committee (HPC) set up by Meghalaya government, under Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, was to evict the Sikh residents from Harijan Colony—which was located near a prime commercial district of the city.

Citing the successive court cases won by the Harijan Panchayat Committee on the issue of their right to reside in the colony, Gurjit Singh said that the “Syiem” could no longer roll back the land given to the ancestors of the present residents of Harijan Colony more than a century ago.

It is feared, that the fresh pressure by Khasi organisations may force the Meghalaya government to once again swing into action against the Sikh residents of Harijan Colony.



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