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Meghalaya: Pressure groups oppose Harijan’s setting condition for relocation

The powerful Khasi Students' Union (KSU) has warned Conrad Sangma not to succumb to the pressure tactics of the HPC.

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Shillong: Pressure groups in Meghalaya have strongly objected to the two conditions set by Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPCs) before the State government in relocating the 342 residents, mostly Dalit or Mazhabi Sikhs, from the Harijan colony.

The powerful Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) has warned Conrad Sangma not to succumb to the pressure tactics of the HPC.

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“The government at no cost should not succumb to HPC’s demands to allot them with 10 acres of land within the European Ward and ato bear expenses for construction of the housing units for the 342 residents,” KSU supremo, Lambokstarwell Marngar said.

Marngar said the government should immediately evict all the “illegal settlers” from the colony while the other residents who are employed by the government should be relocated to official quarters to be allotted to them. “How can they (HPC) make such demands when they themselves are illegal occupants. If the government succumb to their demands then all hell will break loose in the State,” the Marngar warned.

The Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) said that the people living illegally in Harijan Colony should be evicted. “The government should only relocate those residents who are employed by the government to the quarters to be allocated to them. They should be made to vacate the quarters once they retire,” HYC president Robertjune Kharjahrin said.

On Monday, the HPC Secretary Gurjit Singh informed the Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong that the residents of the Harijan colony are not against relocation but want all residents to be “resettled permanently with each household getting ownership rights over 200 square meter of land.”

The contention of the residents in the Harijan colony is that the land where they dwell currently was gifted to them by the Syiem (chief) of Mylliem to their forefathers in 1853. However, the State Government and the Shillong Municipal Board signed a tripartite agreement to take possession of the land from the Syiem of Mylliem.

The Conrad Sangma- led government has also constituted a High-Level Committee (HLC) led by Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong which is mandated to find ways to relocate these residents from that area. In fact, the HLC had earlier decided to resettle the residents at a European Ward.

Under the state land tenure system, non-locals can’t purchase land anywhere in the state except a sliver of land in the European ward located in the state capital.

For more than two decades, several indigenous Khasi civil society groups have demanded from the Meghalaya to re-locate Sikh residents, living there since British times, from Sweepers Lane as most of them are “illegal settlers”.

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