Amarinder urges Meghalaya CM to help Punjabi settlers

Urging Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma to ensure steps to protect Punjabi settlers, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has decided to send a four-member delegation to resolve the settlers' issues.

The delegation, to be headed by Water Resources Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, would meet the Chief Minister and others in Meghalaya, an official spokesperson said here on Saturday. Ravneet Singh Bittu and Jasbir Singh Gill, both MPs, and Kuldeep Singh Vaid, an MLA, will be other members of the team.

Planning Special Secretary D.S. Mangat has been asked to accompany the team and the Chief Secretary coordinate the visit.

The move comes amid reports that Paunjabi settlers have received threats from local terrorist organisations, warning them of dire consequences if they resisted the state government's attempts to evict them.

"These reports have caused concern in Punjab as these families have been residing in Shillong since pre-independence days," said Singh in a letter to Sangma, requesting steps to instil a sense of security among the settlers.

Underlining the sensitivity of the issue, the Punjab Chief Minister stressed the need for careful and amicable resolution of issues. It was important to prevent it from acquiring a religious or parochial colour, he added.

In the letter, he also referred to last year's visit to Meghalaya by a delegation headed by the Punjab Cooperation Minister. The delegation had met settlers as well as the state government officials and was assured due measures to prevent the displacement of Punjabi families.