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Punjab Govt team seeks protection for Sikhs
Staff Correspondent

The five-member Punjab Government team handing over a letter to Meghalaya Home Minister James K Sangma at his office in the Meghalaya Secretariat on Thursday. – UB Photos
 SHILLONG, June 20 - A Punjab Government delegation today met Meghalaya Home Minister James Sangma to urge for the safety and protection of the Punjabi Harijan Colony residents here following threats from a militant organisation.

 The delegation was headed by Punjab Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, MP Jaspir Gill Dimpa and MLAs Kulbir Singh Zira and Kuldeep Singh Vaid. The delegation, while expressing satisfaction over the meeting with the Home Minister here, said the local residents at the Colony are concerned about their safety following the threat from the militant organisation. The visit by the delegation is in light of the threat, they stated.

“The Sikh population here has full confidence in the Meghalaya Government. We, too, have come here to instill confidence in them,” Dimpa said.

The State Government wants to relocate the residents from the area. However, the residents say they have been living there from the 1800s when they were brought by the British.

Following the tussle between the State Government and the residents, the banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), a militant organisation issued a threat to the residents.

On the other hand, the State Government has constituted a High Level Committee (HLC) to find ways to relocate the residents from the prime location.

The case of the residents is also pending before the Meghalaya High Court with several cases filed by and against the State Government. A hearing of three cases related to the residents is scheduled on June 28.

“The Meghalaya Government wants a long lasting solution to this problem. We too want the same,” Dimpa said. He said the issue of relocation has been cropping up time and again after being in “hibernation.” “We want the issue settled once and for all,” Dimpa added.

Leaving it to the HLC to find a solution, Dimpa said he would not like to comment on the proceedings of the committee at the moment. He further said it is for the committee to identify the legal and illegal residents of the Colony.

“We are confident that the Meghalaya Government is sincere to come out with a long lasting issue,” he added.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Sangma assured the safety of the residents and said the Government takes all threats seriously and adequate security measures have been taken.

“The delegation has submitted a letter from Punjab Chief Minister addressed to Chief Minister Conrad Sangma. Concerns on the safety and security of the Sikh community living in Shillong were raised following threats against their community,” Sangma said. Stating that the law and order situation at the moment is normal, Sangma, however, warned of strict action against those trying to vitiate the atmosphere.

“The district administration has been asked to take firm action against those who try to disrupt peace. We have asked the Home department to ensure that no untoward incident takes place,” he added.

The issue of the residents is also being closely monitored by the Meghalaya High Court, Sangma said adding, the HLC is conducting its proceedings keeping in mind all aspects. “We would like the HLC to take everything into consideration before it submits its report,” the Home Minister said.

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