SHILLONG: The Meghalaya government convened an all-party meeting today in order to find a permanent solution to the issue of relocation of the sweeper colony inhabited by Punjabis, where an assault incident last week, fanned by fake news on the social media, resulted in a clash that has gripped the entire city for the fifth day today.
The meeting decided to constitute a high-level committee under Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong for relocation of the sweeper colony, also known as the "Punjabi Line", from the Them Metor area near Bara Bazaar.
The government also met stakeholders, including the heads of tribal institutions and representatives of the hawkers' association, who have been affected by the current law-and-order situation in the city.
The stakeholders demanded relocation of the Punjabis from the Them Metor area.
The sweeper colony is inhabited by people from Punjab, who were brought to Shillong 200 years ago by the British to work as cleaners and sweepers.
"We have decided to form a high-level committee, which will be headed by Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong.
The other members will include Home Minister James P K Sangma, Urban Affairs Minister Hamlet Dohling, Health and Family Welfare Minister A L Hek, Agriculture Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh and the CEM of KHADC, P N Syiem," Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma told reporters after the meeting.
He said D P Wahlang, Principal Secretary, Education and IT, will be the member-secretary of the committee, which will work towards finding a permanent solution to the long-pending issue of the relocation of the sweeper colony, adding that the panel had already started working.
The chief minister said the Urban Affairs department was instructed to submit a detailed report to the committee on the current position of the sweeper colony, including the legal aspects, past history etc.
He reiterated that the solution to the issue was not on the streets but on the table and that the government was ready to discuss it.
The chief minister also informed that those involved in the assault of local Khasi boys at Them Metor were arrested within 24 hours of the incident and that the police were going to file a chargesheet against one B Mirsa.
Meanwhile, a four-member team of the Punjab government arrived here today and met the chief minister, who briefed them on the issue.
Punjab Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who led the team, expressed happiness that the Punjabi people living here were safe.
The visiting team will meet the members of the Punjabi community here tomorrow.
A group of young protesters breached security by entering the main secretariat, shouting slogans.
The chief minister later met them and gave a patient hearing to their demands.
No action was taken against them.