Will challenge status quo order on Harijan Colony: Sangma

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SHILLONG, Oct 12 (NNN): Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma on Monday said that whatever steps that the state government is going to take with regards to relocation of the Harijan’s Colony from Them Iew Mawlong will be ‘legally sound’.

“Whatever steps that we are going to take from now on, all the moves that we are going to make are going to be legally sound. Therefore, whatever decisions or any aspects of any action to be taken by the government will be based on proper documentation,” Sangma told reporters.

His statement came after Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa had strongly opposed the move to relocate the Harijans’ Colony and threatened to take up the matter with the Union home minister Amit Shah for his intervention.

The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has also recently stated that “the Commission has taken suo-moto cognizance of the news reported in the print media regarding the decision of the state government (of Meghalaya) to shift the employees of Shillong Municipal Board (SMB) and other departments of the government of Meghalaya from the Harijan colony and to find an alternative location for relocating the ‘illegal settlers’.”

The NCM chief Iqbal Singh Lalpura clearly states, “Accordingly the Commission has directed the chief secretary of Meghalaya to furnish a detailed report and to maintain status quo in the matter as directed by the High Court of Meghalaya.”

Singh said that the Meghalaya High Court at Shillong has passed orders for status quo and the matter is under consideration of the Supreme Court of India, still, the Conrad Sangma-led government has ignored these and has announced that they will take possession of the 2.5 acres of the land within a week.

The chief minister however stated it is important to understand a few facts here and that it is after three years of detailed homework that the Meghalaya government has decided on the steps that it is going to take.

“It is important for individuals, the leaders from the government of Punjab who mentioned that they will also be taken up the matter; they need to also understand that the ownership of the land is with the government in terms of the lease that has been signed with the Syiem of Hima Mylliem,” he said.

“Once that happens, when legal documentation is there, the legal people who are government employees are being asked to go to the government residential places being provided to them. It is not that people are simply going to be left in the streets. So the people who are government employees, who have been working with the Shillong municipal board and other departments who are staying in that area, will be asked to shift to the official residential complexes of those departments,” he added.

Sangma however said it is being made to look as if everybody is going to be thrown out which is not correct.

He asserted that one has to understand first that legal documents and the papers are with the government so, therefore, whoever is staying there has to be in the terms of what the government decides.

He further said that it is a fact that all the legal employees of the department, they will be asked to shift to the official residences while adding that the Urban Affairs department has been asked to find an amicable way to ensure those who are not legally settled out there to be shifted or to be put somewhere else or whatever proper way of ensuring that a solution can be reached to.

“So, therefore, it is not proper to mix all the aspects into one and make it look that it is one issue as there are multiple issues and we will handle each one of them in a very legal manner,” he said.

Reiterating that the government is ready to challenge any stay order on the issue, the chief minister said, “We have made it very clear that whatever or whoever moves any status quo or gives any order or anything, we respect the stand that different commissions may have, we will challenge that in the court. Once we go to the high court or a higher court, division bench and supreme court, we will take up the matter and we will challenge it as I said we are very clear on the stand of the government and as I said it is an issue that has been pending too long and we need to find a solution to this issue also, may not be the simplest solution but we will work towards finding an amicable solution to this issue also.”

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