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Days after CMs meet, fresh tension along Assam-Arunachal border

The flashpoint is the ongoing Likabali-Durpai PMGSY road project in Arunachal Pradesh’s Lower Siang district — Assam claims that some parts of the road, under construction since 2019, falls under its Dhemaji district.

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati |
Updated: January 27, 2022 2:47:06 pm
In August 2021, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told the State Assembly there were at least 1,200 areas of dispute along the border with Arunachal Pradesh.

Just days after the chief ministers of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh met to discuss a “permanent solution” over the decades-old boundary dispute between the two states, fresh tensions were reported along the inter-state border on Wednesday night.

The flashpoint is the ongoing Likabali-Durpai PMGSY road project in Arunachal Pradesh’s Lower Siang district — Assam claims that some parts of the road, under construction since 2019, falls under its Dhemaji district.

On Wednesday evening, a culvert under construction close to Hime village in Lower Siang was burnt by “unidentified miscreants from the Assam side”, authorities said. Following that, there were unconfirmed reports of “firing in the air” by the locals from the Arunachal Pradesh side on Wednesday night.

District officials from both Dhemaji in Assam) and Arunachal Pradesh’s Lower Siang—the two districts share a border of about 150 kilometres—reached the spot on Thursday morning, and said the incident was “minor” and that the “situation was under control.”

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As per reports, the tension began after an Assam Police team stopped the construction of the road at Hime.

“The Likabali-Durpai road touches the disputed territory at some points on the border. The day before yesterday, our team stopped one such construction. Since this is a disputed area, we have prevented construction on previous occasions too,” said Ranjan Bhuyan, Dhemaji district’s Superintendent of Police (SP).

Kushal Pal Singh, SP of Lower Siang district, said some stretches of the road were under dispute, and an argument between the Assam Police and local villagers of Hime was reported on Tuesday.

“Following that, last night, Some miscreants from the Assam side set fire to a culvert under construction,” said Singh. He added that they had received information about some firing in the air by locals from the Arunachal side, but they were unconfirmed.

According to Singh, such incidents of violence keep happening “occasionally”. “This was not a major incident,” he said.

Dhemaji SP Bhuyan added the tension was between the local people and that he was in constant touch with his Arunachal counterpart. “Both sides of the administration have been meeting, talking and trying to resolve the situation,” he said.

Arunachal Pradesh, which was earlier a part of Assam, shares a boundary of over 800 km with the state. The border region has reported frequent flare-ups. Clashes were first reported in 1992, and since then, there have been several accusations of illegal encroachment from both sides, and intermittent clashes. The matter is in the Supreme Court.

In August 2021, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told the State Assembly there were at least 1,200 areas of dispute along the border with Arunachal Pradesh, and that the two states were working toward solving it.

After the Monday meeting with Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Sarma tweeted: “Solving boundary issues with neighbours is our priority. Discussed with Hon’ble CM of Arunachal Pradesh Sh @PemaKhanduBJP, who came all the way to Guwahati, measures for a permanent solution to the long-pending issue. We decided to conduct a ground level survey on boundary status.”

Later, Khandu told The Indian Express that the meeting was “very positive” “We had very positive discussions on finding mutually acceptable permanent solutions to this problem. Under the guidance of Hon’ble PM and active support of Hon’ble Home Minister Amit Shah Ji, we will work towards resolving this and many vexed issues in the region. All this will pave the way for the holistic development of the Northeast,” he said.

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