SHILLONG | June 19, 2019:
The five-member delegation deputed by Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh has arrived in the city today to seek clarification from the Meghalaya Government on the safety of the Sikh population residing at Them Iew Mawlong.
The move of sending the five-member delegation came amid reports of threats issued to the Sikh population from the local terrorist organisation — Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), warning them of dire consequences if they resisted the state government’s attempt to evict them.
The delegation, headed by Water Resources Minister Sukhbinder Singh Randhawa, will meet Deputy Chief Minister, Prestone Tynsong and Home Minister, James PK Sangma on Thursday. The other members of the delegation include Ravneet Singh Bittu and Jasbir Singh Gill, both MPs, and Kuldeep Singh Vaid, an MLA.
The delegation was initially supposed to meet Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma. However, Sangma will not be present in tomorrow’s meeting since he is in New Delhi.
Talking to reporters on their arrival at Hotel Pinewood, Randhawa said that they have been asked to rush to Shillong since Punjab Chief Minister fears that that the Sikh population, who are residing here, faces any attack similar to that which happened in Delhi two days ago.
“We would impress upon the Meghalaya Government that the Sikh population should not be relocated from the area which they have residing for more than 150 years. The area which they have been staying has been named as Punjabi Lane. It should be the priority of the State Government to protect and safeguard the interest of the Sikh population,” Punjab Water Resources Minister said.
He further said that there are large number of students from Meghalaya who are studying in Punjab. “We will not like to see any communal disharmony between the two communities in view of this issue,” Randhawa said.
Meanwhile, he said that there are large number of refugees who cross over from Pakistan to Punjab during the partition.
“But the Sikh population who are residing here are not even refugees. We have a village in Punjab where no individual owns a land. The person who resides in that place becomes the ultimate owner of the land. The Sikhs have been residing in that place for centuries. I don’t think it is right to forcefully evict them from that place. No one will want to leave their own houses,” Punjab Cooperation Minister said.
When asked why they raised the topic of communal disharmony, he dodged the question and said that they have come here to spread the message of peace. “We would also impress upon the Meghalaya Government that peace should be maintained at any cost,” Randhawa added.
Meanwhile, he asserted that the best way to resolve this stalemate is to respect the Court’s verdict. “Everyone will respect the court decisions. Let the court gives verdict on the matter,” Punjab Cooperation Minister said.
When apprised about the main concern of the Meghalaya Government being the ‘illegal settlers’, Randhawa said that there cannot be any illegal settlers since the families who are working in the Government departments must have grown in the past so many years.
“Before the partition, the population in Punjab was 35 crore and now the population is 120 crore. The family will always grow. It is wrong perception to say that there are illegal settlers,” he added.