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Assam, Meghalaya CMs to meet Amit Shah Thursday to resolve six ‘areas of difference’

Amit Shah Shah is likely to decide on the five decade-long dispute on Thursday, ahead of Meghalaya’s 50th statehood day on January 21.

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala |
Updated: January 20, 2022 2:11:30 am
Amit Shah; Conrad K Sangma and Himanta Biswa Sarma. (File Photos)

A day after Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said efforts to resolve Assam-Meghalaya boundary dispute have started bearing fruits with differences over six out of 12 disputed areas to be resolved in the first phase, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Wednesday said his cabinet has approved recommendations of all three regional committees set up with representatives from both sides to resolve the dispute and said recommendations of both Meghalaya and Assam would be submitted before Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday evening.

Shah is likely to decide on the five decade-long dispute on Thursday, ahead of Meghalaya’s 50th statehood day on January 21. Notably, Meghalaya became a full-fledged state in 1972.

Taking to Twitter, Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma wrote, “Cabinet has approved the recommendations of all 3 Regional Committees… to resolve the Meghalaya-Assam border issue. The recommendations of both States will be submitted to MHA. Along with HCM @himantabiswa we will meet with Hon’ble HM @AmitShah ji for further action.”

Speaking to reporters later on Wednesday, he said, “The Assam CM and I would submit our reports to Home Minister Amit Shah at Delhi on Thursday evening. We shall be submitting almost a common report. The central government will decide as per the law afterwards.”

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His comments came a day after Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said a roadmap for amicable settlement was prepared based on recommendations of the three regional committees set up with representatives from both states.

Sarma on Tuesday also informed representatives of different political parties on “progress made so far” on the issue, while Meghalaya CM Sangma on Wednesday said his government took “inputs” from all political parties.

“We’ve reached this stage after several rounds of CM-level talks on the matter. My Cabinet colleagues Dr @ranojpeguassam & Shri @TheAshokSinghal, LOP Shri@DsaikiaOfficial, several MLAs, CS Shri Jishnu Barua, senior govt officials & representatives of all parties were present,” Assam CM Himanta tweeted on Tuesday.

He also said he interacted with representatives of All Assam Students Union (AASU), organizations of Rabha, Gorkha, Garo and Bodo communities living in the six ‘areas of difference’ and sought their cooperation as part of his government’s endeavour to reach a “permanent and lasting solution”.

Explaining the process of resolving the boundary dispute, the Meghalaya CM said while the MHA would make the final call, the rough structure of resolution was reached between the two neighbouring states after a prolonged process.

Asked how the boundary demarcation would be carried out, CM Sangma said, “It would be implemented after a proper procedure in Parliament. It might include joint inspections by both states, with experts from Survey of India as well,” he said.

The six disputed areas or ‘areas of difference’, which are expected to be discussed on Thursday in front of Home Minister Shah, have roughly 36 villages, spanning across 36.79 sq km.

While refusing to divulge particulars of his report, CM Sangma said his government “strongly feels” public sentiments are very important while deciding such issues apart from historical facts.

Sangma also stated that ethnicity is an important issue that goes into such decision-making. “Both states may strongly feel that they may claim an area but if people of that area didn’t wish to be in a state, they could not be forced to do so,” he said.

Assam and Meghalaya share an 885 km-long inter-state boundary. Meghalaya, which was formed under the North-Eastern Areas Reorganization Act, 1971, has a border dispute with Assam in 12 areas.

These are Upper Tarabari, Gizang reserve forest, Hahim, Langpih, Borduar, Boklapara, Nongwah, Matamur, Khanapara-Pilangkata, Deshdemoreah Block I and Block II, Khanduli and Ratacherra. These areas are part of Cachar, Kamrup Metro and Kamrup Rural districts in Assam and West Khasi Hills, Ri Bhoi and East Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya. In the first phase, six of these locations — Tarabari, Gizang, Hahim, Boklapara, Khanapara-Pilingkata and Ratacherra are being taken up for resolution.

Both states earlier formed border dispute settlement committees and constituted regional committees to resolve claims. Both states have earlier contradicted each other based on historical facts, ethnic issues, ease of administration and public sentiment. After a discussion between the chief ministers in February last year, the two states had agreed to maintain status quo on the subject.

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