IED blast | Shillong’s Punjabi lane settlers seek Home Minister Amit Shah’s help

In a letter to Amit Shah, Harijan Panchayat Committee secretary Gurjit Singh said the blast has instilled a sense of fear among the residents.

Published - March 13, 2024 11:56 am IST - Shillong

Amit Shah. File

Amit Shah. File | Photo Credit: ANI

Residents of the disputed Punjabi Lane in Shillong have sought the intervention of Union Home Minister Amit Shah into the IED explosion in their locality on March 9, resulting in one injury.

In a letter to Mr. Shah, Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) secretary Gurjit Singh said the blast has instilled a sense of fear among the residents. The Sikh community residing in the contested area believes the blast was orchestrated to disrupt negotiations aimed at relocating them to municipal land.

Initiated months after the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA), backed by the BJP, came to power in 2018, the relocation process is currently under the supervision of the high court. Mr. Singh emphasised to Mr. Shah that the blast undermines the peace efforts.

He urged the Home Minister to take immediate action against those issuing threats, asserting that restoring peace requires holding troublemakers accountable.

He called upon the Centre to uphold the rule of law and safeguard the rights of all citizens irrespective of ethnicity or religion.

"The Sikhs of Punjabi colony have been subjected to threats from various tribal groups. These groups have been openly inimical to the presence of non-tribals in Meghalaya, creating a sustained atmosphere of intimidation and fear," Mr. Singh said.

"The recent blast is a deliberate attempt to derail the fragile peace process and this incident is not isolated but is indicative of the larger issue of communal harmony and the safety of minority communities within Meghalaya," he said.

Violence erupted shortly after the MDA's ascension to power when there was a clash between the Sikhs and the locals following an assault on a bus driver.

The MDA government proposed relocating the residents and offered additional land, but disagreements persisted, particularly regarding the government's responsibility for housing construction costs.

While some local NGOs oppose government funding for Sikh housing, arguing it neglects indigenous communities, the Sikh residents' demands persist, rooted in their historical ties to the region dating back to British colonial times when they were brought to Shillong as workers.

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