Shillong, Oct 11: Reacting to National Commission for Minorities (NCM) asking Meghalaya Government to maintain status quo on the shifting of Sweeper’s Colony from Them Iew Mawlong as well as Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa strongly opposing the move, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Monday said all the steps the state government is going to take are going to 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.
Chief Minister Sangma also stated that 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 government of Punjab who mentioned that they will also be taking 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 (SMB) and other departments who are staying in that area will be asked to shift to the official residential complexes of those departments,” explained Sangma.
Sangma, however, said it is being made to look as if everybody is going to be thrown out which is not correct.
Reactions from different quarters
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa had strongly opposed the move to relocate the Sweepers’ 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 taken suo-moto cognizance of the government’s move and 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.
Employees of SMB will be asked to shift
Chief Minister Sangma further said it is a fact that all the legal employees of the department 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.
Ready to challenge any stay order
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 High Court or 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.”
Nothing wrong with Punjab groups showing concerns on the issue
When asked about the alleged interference by many Punjab groups into the affairs of the state, the Chief Minister however said that one cannot stop anybody if they have concerns for their people.
“It is very fair. If our people – Khasis or Garos – are going to be harassed in another state, obviously as a state government it is our responsibility and duty to intervene. So it is not something wrong that the other governments are doing but showing their concerns. I am not saying interfering. It is natural that they show their concerns but it should be clear to all these governments, individuals and political parties also that whatever the government of Meghalaya will do will be legally sound and will follow legal procedures and all the procedures required for any kind of step or action to be taken will be done in a very legal manner,” he assured.
According to him, one should not take it in a wrong sense that the government is simply bulldozing but the fact is that a lot of homework has been done in this regard.
“We will now break this into smaller problems and will resolve this one by one and obviously the last part which is most complicated, we have asked the urban affairs department to give us what are the options that they have,” he said.