Shiillong, Oct 13: The Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) has asked the government to stop the relocation of Harijan Colony residents and make public the report of the High Level Committee (HLC) in this regard.
“We demand that the government stops whatever decisions it has made regarding this issue and that the report of the HLC be made public,” TUR leader Angela Rangad said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
She alleged that the HLC did not take the views and opinions of a cross section of society and that the HLC itself is comprised of members representing the government.
“The government constituted the HLC itself and gave the suggestions itself, which is not tenable. The government did not give representation to any resident of Punjabi Lane in the HLC, or even to the local MLA,” Rangad said.
“Questions can be asked as to why the government decided the contents and implementation of the HLC report to be in secret and not made public for comments,” she added.
The TUR leader said the timing of the release of the report is suspected with the nearing of the byelections to three constituencies of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.
“The chief minister’s statement that the residents of Punjabi Lane have to vacate the area within a week’s time creates confusion and a sense of fear to the residents. His statement that the government will challenge the status quo order of the Meghalaya High Court also adds more to the sense of confusion and fear of the residents,” she said.
TUR also asked the government to include all stakeholders in the deliberations of any future plans of the area, including the local MLA as well the residents of the area.
TUR also reiterated its demand that the area be redeveloped with proper facilities, including that of water, sanitation and electricity; and residential housing for the Mazhabi Sikhs.
“This can easily be done since land behind the area belonging to the Shillong Cantonment Board can also be used for redevelopment, and the government can request the same from the Cantonment Board. Additionally, the Mazhabi Sikhs should be granted security of tenure of residence,” TUR said.
TUR pointed out that it had already given a drawing of a draft plan to make use of the area, like for example: a market for hawkers and street vendors, a dispensary, a creche, a bus and taxi terminal, a public godown, public toilets, along with proper residential units for the Mazhabi Sikhs.
Historically, this area has been susceptible to intimidation and harassment of people in general including customers, petty traders, farmers, taxi and bus drivers from some criminal elements, TUR said.
It added that non-existence of quick redressal from police some of these experiences have turned into long term resentments.
“We demand people-friendly, well equipped, transparent and efficient policing to ensure that such acts do not go unpunished and people are safe in this area”, TUR said.
The organisation said this can only be brought about by cooperation amongst the residents, the Hima and the district authorities.