The Dalit community in Punjab has warned of a massive protest against the state government after the Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority (GLADA) served a notice on Gurdwara Ravidas Ji Sahib in Jamalpur Awana on Chandigarh road of Ludhiana over ‘unauthorised possession over GLADA land’.
Addressed to gurdwara committee president Manjit Singh, the notice, accessed by The Indian Express, has asked for ‘land ownership proofs’ for land measuring 9×4 kanal. It says that a chance is being given to the committee to prove their ownership before further action is taken by GLADA, which claims the notice is in continuation of earlier notice served on May 8 this year. GLADA has mentioned in the notice that action is being taken on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court according to which all encroachments on GLADA-owned land have to be removed.
A meeting of Dalit community was held at the gurdwara Saturday in which they announced that if GLADA tried to demolish even a portion of gurdwara building, there would be massive protests across the state.
Manjit Singh, president of the gurdwara committee, in a written statement to the media, said that their ancestors had built the gurdwara after shifting to Ludhiana from Pakistan during the Partition. He said that land was provided for gurdwara by gram panchayat of Jamalpur Awana village. He claimed that the government should immediately transfer the land ownership in the name of gurdwara committee as sentiments of Dalit community are attached to the gurdwara.
“We are meeting deputy commissioner and police commissioner on Monday and if they do not agree to cancel this notice, we will protest,” he said, adding that the gurdwara is built over a total area of 17 kanals.
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Sonam Chaudhary, estate officer, GLADA, told The Indian Express that in earlier meetings too, it has been clarified to the gurdwara committee that notice served to them is for four shops and a gurdwara gate which are clearly built on the land owned by GLADA and have to be demolished as per the High Court orders. “We have still not served them demolition notice yet but asked them to prove their ownership and show documents of 9×4 kanal of land where four shops and a gate owned by gurdwara are built. We have also issued notices to 70 other shops at the same market as they too are encroachments on GLADA land. If any portion is demolished, a demolition notice will be issued first,” she said.
Harpreet Singh, cashier, gurdwara committee, said that nowhere the notice clarifies that it is only for four shops and gate. “Gurdwara committee owns 10 shops of which three are used as office and the rest are given on rent. Nowhere the notice is clarifying that it is for selected portion and even if it is, we won’t vacate it,” he said.