Punjab team in Shillong banks on court

The delegation, led by Punjab minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, arrived here on Wednesday evening

By Our Correspondent in Shillong
  • Published 20.06.19, 12:12 AM
  • Updated 20.06.19, 12:12 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Members of the delegation from Punjab in Shillong on Wednesday A Telegraph picture

A delegation of the Punjab government on Wednesday said issues related to the Harijan Colony at Them Ïew Mawlong here should be dealt in accordance with the directives of the judiciary and that no “forced eviction” should take place.

The delegation, led by Punjab minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, arrived here on Wednesday evening. They will meet deputy chief minister Prestone Tynsong and home minister James P.K. Sangma on Thursday to discuss the issue of Them Ïew Mawlong settlers.

“Our chief minister has sent us to talk peace. When I was here earlier, I had spoken to chief minister Conrad K. Sangma and appealed to him to settle the issue amicably,” Randhawa told reporters here.

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh had last week said he would send a delegation to Meghalaya and that he had written to Conrad, requesting him to ensure “proper protection for Punjabi settlers” in Shillong.

Randhawa on Wednesday said everybody must abide by the court’s decision and that there should be no eviction. On relocation of the people living in the colony, he said it would not be easy for people to leave their homes after years of settlement.

Congress MP Jasbir Singh Gill Dimpa also said there should be no “forced eviction”.

Meghalaya High Court, in a judgment and order passed on February 12 this year in relation to the case of Harijan Panchayat Committee versus the State of Meghalaya, had said the matter needed to be addressed by the civil court after taking appropriate evidence on record and giving fair and equal opportunity to both the parties to be heard.

“It is a settled principle of law that nobody can be removed or evicted without due process of law even if he is illegally settled. Therefore, I direct the government and all the other agencies not to disturb the petitioners in any manner and if at all they want to evict or remove them, they are to approach the civil court and the civil court will pass a proper judgment after giving equal opportunity to both the parties and decide the title in accordance with law,” Justice S.R. Sen had said in his judgment.

The state government had filed a review petition and the matter, which was heard on Tuesday, will again come up for hearing later this month.

On Tuesday, Conrad had said that while the protection of every citizen is the government’s responsibility, the issue of the Harijan Colony should not be mixed with security. He said this after several delegations appealed to the government to ensure the security of the people living in the colony following threats from the proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC). He said an inventory is being prepared in the colony and the committee formed by the government on the issue was there to listen to all stakeholders, including the settlers.

Last month, the Shillong Municipal Board had carried out an inventory survey and had pasted official notices in the Harijan Colony, asking those who claimed to be the colony’s residents to furnish information about their possession of either land or building and period of occupation and provide documents to support their claim. The colony residents had sent a legal notice to the board for carrying out the inventory survey.