Meghalaya planning to redevelop Shillong locality that saw group clashes in 2018

Shillong, Mar 19 (PTI) Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong on Friday informed the assembly that the state government is planning to redevelop the Punjabi Lane area in Shillong as it is adjacent to Them Iew Mawlong, the city’s main commercial hub.

The area is inhabited by people from Punjab, who were brought to Shillong around 200 years ago by the British to work as cleaners and sweepers. An incident of assault in the area in May 2018 had resulted in group clashes, following which it was put under curfew for over a month.

There were demands from various quarters to relocate “illegal settlers” from Punjabi Lane at that time and the state government set up a High-Level Committee (HLC) headed by Tynsong to look into the issue.

“The HLC will again sit very soon and a report (on redeveloping Punjabi Lane) will be submitted to the state government,” Tynsong said while replying to a query by Congress member M Rapsang.

The HLC found many problems that need to be corrected, the deputy chief minister said.

The Centre has selected Shillong in the Smart City project and “we are thinking of redeveloping quite a number of places including Them Iew Mawlong area”, he said.

Tynsong said that the urban affairs department is working on a detailed plan to refurbish the area.

The deputy chief minister also informed the House that the government is seriously considering to find out a permanent solution to the issue of relocation of alleged illegal settlers from the Punjabi Lane area.

On May 29, 2018, clashes erupted when a bus driver and his friend were attacked at the Punjabi Lane area and they received injuries. As rumours of the assaulted victims dying in hospital spread on social media, people attacked the settlers following which the entire area was put under curfew for over a month.

Following the incident, a delegation of the Punjab government visited the city and interacted with the settlers.

The delegation members also met Chief Minister Conrad K.Sangma.

However, the Meghalaya administration expressed unhappiness after the Punjab government sanctioned Rs 60 lakh as compensation to the community members who were affected by the violence.