Punjabi Lane in Shillong. (File image)

The Meghalaya Cabinet has decided to relocate “illegal settlers” of Punjabi Lane in Them Iew Mawlong area in Shillong.

The government on Thursday decided to relocate the Sikhs based on the recommendation of the high-level committee (HLC).

CM Conrad Sangma said that the process had been initiated to transfer the ownership of the land from the local tribal chieftain (syiem) to the state so that the government could take steps to evict Sikhs from the area.

The Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC), the representative body of Dalit Sikhs living in the Harijan Colony (also Punjabi Lane) vowed to “fight till last breath against the illegal, unethical and unjust action of the BJP-led coalition government”.

“Poor Sikhs who have served the state are being made victims of forcible eviction under the pressure of land mafia since the previously inaccessible area is now a prime property,” Gurjit Singh, president, HPC, said in a statement.

The HPC said the 2.5 acres of the colony land belonged to the residents whose ancestors had come from Punjab two centuries ago.

The 350-odd Sikh families living at Iewduh (Punjabi Lane) have been fighting eviction from the land where they have been living for over two centuries.

The land, they claim, was donated by a Khasi tribal chieftain to them before 1863.

The Conrad Sangma government in June 2018 had announced the setting up of a high-level committee to settle the land dispute.

Violence had erupted in Shillong on May 31 that year after an altercation between a few women from the Punjabi Lane area and a city bus driver and conductor spiraled out of control.

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