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Clashes with Punjabis in Shillong


SHILLONG, 15 JUNE. A week after militant group HNLC issued a threat to Punjabi settlers asking them to vacate the Punjabi Lane area of Shillong, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has sent a four-member delegation to the hill state to work out a solution.

The delegation, headed by state minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, will meet Chief Minister Conrad Sangma in Meghalaya.

"These reports have naturally caused great concern back in Punjab as these families have been settled in Shillong long before the country's independence," Mr Singh said in a letter to Mr Sangma, urging him to instill a sense of security among the Punjabi settlers.

A fight between some Khasi boys and residents of Punjabi Lane last year lit the fuse that eventually ignited the dormant tension into a full blown confrontation and the subsequent clashes with the police and paramilitary forces.

Mr Sangma had alleged that some people had been "sponsoring" the clashes, though he admitted that the clashes were certainly linked to discontentment over the land tussle. He denied the matter was communal.

After the clashes, a delegation from the Shiromani Akali Dal from New Delhi had visited the locality last year, urging both sides to help restore peace.

The Meghalaya government had formed a cabinet sub-committee to look into the possibility of relocating the "Sweeper Colony". "The Committee shall examine all relevant records and documents relating to the relocation of the Sweeper Colony, Sweeper Lane, Mawlong Haat... The Committee shall recommend practically feasible solution(s) for relocation of the said Sweeper Colony," the order issued last year had read.



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