Assam, Meghalaya CMs set up committees to resolve border disputes

Guwahati/Aizawl:- A day after a crucial ministerial level meeting in Aizawl over the Assam-Mizoram border dispute, the Chief Ministers of Assam and Meghalaya on Friday decided to settle their 12 border disputes in a phased manner through talks.

In their second meeting on the issue, Assam’s Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad K. Sangma said that three separate committees for three disputed regions would be formed on each side under cabinet ministers.

Sangma said that the committees, which would also comprise senior officials, would focus on five aspects — historical facts, ethnicity, administrative convenience, contiguity of the land, willingness and people’s sentiments.

“The process to resolve the disputes would be done in a fast manner and in the next 30 days, the three committees of each of the two states would complete their visit of the disputed locations and hold discussions,” he told the media.

Sarma said that out of the 12 locations along Assam’s Cachar, Kamrup and Kamrup (Metro) districts and Meghalaya’s West Khasi Hills, Ri-Bhoi and East Jaintia Hills Districts, six disputed locations with lesser complications would be taken up first.

“There is no dispute in the Assam territory. But Meghalaya claimed certain locations as their territory, causing the disputes for many years. The six committees headed by the cabinet ministers would discuss with all stakeholders, local leaders and people before coming to the conclusions,” he said.

The meeting in Guwahati came shortly after the first meeting held in Shillong on July 24.

The Assam Chief Minister also said that his state’s border dispute cases with Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh are before the Supreme Court but there are no cases on the inter-state disputes with Meghalaya and Mizoram.

“Recently Assam and Nagaland had signed an agreement to remove state forces from the disputed locations. I have recently discussed with the Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister (Pema Khandu) about an out of court settlements of the boundary disputes,” he said.

Sarma and Sangma also said that to resolve the inter-state border disputes, they would adopt different kind of negotiations with new approaches and they would not stick to the old issues and incidents.

Assam and Mizoram ministers had met on Thursday where they decided to maintain peace along their border, welcomed deployment of neutral central forces, and agreed that they would not send their respective forces and officials to the troubled areas.

The worst-ever violence along the Assam-Mizoram border on July 26 left six Assam Police personnel dead and around 100 civilians and security personnel of the two neighbouring states injured.

The trouble between the states is due to conflicting interpretations of their territorial position. While Mizoram says the boundary line is the one laid down in the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act of 1875, Assam backs the 1933 demarcation.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai had told the parliament last month that there are a total of seven inter-state border disputes at present, including four in the northeast region.

The others are between Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh, and Maharashtra-Karnataka.