Them Iew Mawlong, adjacent to the Iewduh m a r k e t , the oldest and biggest traditional market in the North Eastern region has all along being congested with criminal activities, which sparked off the Shillong violence leading to the imposition of curfews which affected normal life for a stretch of one week or so. The big question, however, is that residents of this crowded area be allocated elsewhere, people of this area mainly belonging to Punjab origin settle in the colony, however with no land ownership rights.
The land in question is the extension of the Iewduh market under the jurisdiction of the Khasi state of Hima Mylliem not for residential or commercial activities but for temporary occupation of those engaged in public utility services. According to customary law, there cannot be any permanent occupation in any market place in the whole of the Khasi-Jaintia Hills.
However, the then British Government authorities had given permission for settlement of workers of public utility service belonging to the Municipality but not the right of ownership to the land. As it is known that the law transcendental custom always outweighs the written text of the law. This covers the case of land in the Them Iew Mawlong market. The Syiem of Hima Mylliem authority has only given permission not of any permanent settlement but only for the construction of the Gurudwara and the Guru Nanak School in the area. The Syiem cannot issue land patta to any individual or group of persons or organization for permanent settlement. The land in question, therefore, became a colony for a temporary purpose.
However over the years, the area with the increase of population has become over-crowded and congested and even commercial establishments had cropped up including shops restaurants even falling within the Municipality areas, adjacent to the Hima Mylliem areas. However, no steps had been taken to check the various encroachments and even the State Urban Development Department had not taken any action.
Passing through the area is only a strip of about 100-metre narrow road, crowded with people and vehicles and also a city bus terminus. It is often reported that people passing through are always harassed by unruly elements in the areas. This was one of the reasons that minor occupants of a bus were assaulted in this area, which resulted in the break-out of the Shillong violence which fortunately the Government tackled in bringing about peace and normalcy in the capital city.
The State Government had consulted a high-level committee, the Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong being the Chairman and other ministers including Urban Affairs Ministers-Hamlet Dohling, Home Minister-James Sangma, Health Minister A.L.Hek, Agriculture Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh and also the Chief Executive member of the Khasi Hills District Council, Pynshngain N Syiem- The committee would submit a report on legal status of the colony, the legal and land aspect and also past history. The Chief Minister had categorically stated the problem would be solved not in the streets but across the table. Most of the residents of the colony are workers of the Shillong Municipal Board and have been allocated to occupy in the areas, since the shifting of the capital of the province from Sohra to Shillong, since the British period. However, the shifting of the colony would pose a problem in finding a suitable land. The Municipal, however, can find out ways and means in providing apartments to its workers at present staying in the colony. In the meantime the land in the colony, a survey had been conducted by the Directorate of Land Records and Survey, the Hima Mylliem and the Shillong Municipal Board, a report being submitted to the High-Level Committee. The Minister for Urban Affairs Hamlet Dohling said that the area and status of the land in the colony would be studied based on the survey that had been conducted.
In the meantime, a three-member team from the National Human Rights Committee have recorded statements of the people residing within the colony. During their visit, the womenfolk of the colony had staged a silent protest, against the move now being made by the state government to shift present residence of the colony to another place. The Committee would also go into the cause of the violence in which three minors in a bus were assaulted by some residents of the colony, following which a mob collected at Mawkhar point but was prevented by the police to go haywire, though the mob pelted stones at the police party. The delegation also met state government officials including magistrates, also police officials including those of the Central Reserve Police Force.
Sumar Sing Sawian
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