The Land Record and Survey Department of Meghayala on Wednesday began a survey of residents in Shillong’s Punjabi Line locality, which was at the centre of violent protests in the city earlier this month, The Hindu reported.
Violence had broken out between members of the dominant Khasi community and long-time Sikh residents of the Punjabi Line settlement on May 31. It was sparked by an altercation between a Khasi bus driver and a Sikh resident. The Khasis are demanding that the Sikhs of Punjabi Line be moved to an area on the city’s outskirts.
A committee formed by the government to look into the demand had recommended the survey. The committee said the survey data would be crucial to resolve the long-pending demand. The locality is also known as Them Iew Mawlong or Sweepers’ Lane.
Women from the locality observed a silent protest on Wednesday as the survey team carried on with its work, reported The Tribune.
“We are not clear about what triggered the protest,” said PS Dkhar, the deputy commissioner of East Khasi Hills district. “We hope to complete the exercise by Thursday.”
Residents of the colony have already said they will not leave the place under any circumstances. Gurjit Singh, the general secretary of Punjabi Line’s Gurdwara Committee, told The Hindu that Dalit or Mazhabi Sikhs had been living in the locality since 1853 when the British brought them as soldiers or sanitation workers.
“The idea behind the survey is to properly demarcate the land belonging to the Shillong Municipal Board and to the Syiem [Khasi king] of Mylliem,” Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, who headed the committee, told The Hindu. “The settlers in the area are spread across the land belonging to both SMB and the Syiem.”
A delegation of the Shiromani Akali Dal met Tynsong in Shillong on Tuesday to request him to resolve the matter with a humane touch, The Tribune reported.