Lawyer files petition to evict residents from Harijan Colony
A petition seeking the immediate eviction of over 300 families from Them Iew Mawlong has been submitted to the East Khasi Hills deputy commissioner Isawanda Laloo, on October 19.
The petitioner, advocate Erwin K Syiem Sutnga, alleged that that the Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) are representing the non-tribal occupiers in illegal occupation of the tribal land which had been converted into a Harijan Colony without the sanction of law. The petition was filed as per the Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) Act, 1971.
“This action of the HPC…is against the provisions of The Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) Act, 1971, which specifically prohibits the transfer and/or occupation by non-tribals of tribal land without the due procedure of law,” he said.
The advocate also alleged that the HPC had been trying to establish a claim over this piece of tribal land by various means and is also resisting the decision of the state government to vacate it based on the report of the High-Level Committee (HLC) constituted on this matter.
“In a press statement the said respondent (HPC) has outrightly refused to vacate tribal land in contravention of Section 3, 4 and 7 of The Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) Act, 1971,” he said.
Erwin, a permanent resident of 45/58 Mani Sing Syiem Lane, Umsohsun, Shillong, said that the violations of the said Act have to be taken action against at the earliest upon receipt of this Petition under Section 8 of The Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) Act, 1971.
Stating that the matter is one of vital importance to the Khasi-Jaintia tribe, the advocate said, “This has become a focal point of the Rights of the Khasi-Jaintia tribe constituting their prevailing indigenous rights and customs as well as human and constitutional rights.”
According to him, the remaining tribal land in the hands of the indigenous Khasi-Jaintia tribe has been dwindling from 22,000 sq km prior to the statehood of Meghalaya in 1971 to around 16,000 sq. km (approximately) at present.
He further stated that the illegal influx of immigrants has always been a perineal problem in urban Shillong and this has led to unregulated growth of slums such as the Harijan Colony. “This also poses a threat to the rights and survival of the Khasi-Jaintia tribe,” he added.
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