A high-level Punjab government delegation on Thursday met Meghalaya Home Minister James K Sangma and urged him to ensure an early and amicable resolution to the issue of Sikh families in Shillong who were handed eviction orders last month.
Nearly 350 Sikh families have been residing on both sides of Punjabi Lane in Shillong for decades, mostly in one-room tenements.
On the second day of their visit to the north-eastern state, the visiting Punjab delegation also requested that the High Powered Committee (HPC) formed by the Meghalaya government on the issue should take into account all genuine concerns of the Sikh families before reaching any conclusion.
The delegation also requested the Home Minister to ensure the security of the hundreds of Sikh families who had been residing in the Punjabi lane area of Shillong for decades now. The state government should initiate more confidence-building measures to instil confidence in the community, they felt.
On the issue of notices issued by the Shillong Municipal Board to the Sikh settlers, the delegation urged the Home Minister to remove any apprehension from the minds of the minority community. Any arbitrary action taken by local authorities to evacuate the settlers would be in gross violation of the right to movement and freedom of the Sikh community, said the delegation.
Expressing satisfaction with the handling of the situation by the state government, the delegation thanked Meghalaya Home Minister for his proactive efforts in defusing the situation. The delegation, however, underlined the need to guard against attempts by vested groups to create further problems.
During the meeting, the delegation head Punjab Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa handed Capt Amarinder Singh's letter addressed to Chief Minister Conrad Sangma to the Meghalaya Home Minister.
The Home Minister assured the delegation that all efforts would be made to protect the Sikhs in Meghalaya. The high-level committee under the chairmanship of the Deputy Chief Minister was examining the issue from all angles and any final decision would be based on this outcome only, he assured the delegation.
On the issue of threats issued by the banned HNLC, the Home Minister assured the delegation that though the organisation was defunct, the state government was not taking any chances and had already made elaborate security arrangements. During the meeting, Sangma also spoke to Capt. Amarinder Singh on the phone and assured all possible help by his government to the settlers.
He also told the visiting delegation that Chief Minister Conrad Sangma was in constant touch with the Punjab Chief Minister, and would keep Amarinder updated on the situation which he was personally monitoring and reviewing.