Conrad Sangma
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma (right) addressing the media in Dimapur on Tuesday evening. Also seen is NNP’s Nagaland unit president Andrew Ahuto. Photot by Bhadra Gogoi

Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma said the draconian Armed Forces (Special Power) Act has no place in a democratic society.

Addressing media persons at the residence of the president of the Nagaland unit of Nationalist People’s Party (NPP) Abdrew Ahuto here on Tuesday evening, Sangma said his personal stand and that of the NPP for the last 20 years has been against the imposition of the AFSPA in the northeastern states.

He stressed that the Act should be repealed not only in Nagaland but in the entire Northeast region.

Sangma, who made a stopover here on his return from Makhel village at Mao in Senapati district of Manipur after attending the 88th anniversary of the Mao Students Union, said the repeal of the Act will send a strong message to the people of the region to build the trust deficit as its imposition is not going well with the growth of the region.

“We want the AFSPA repealed in the entire Northeast as it is not helping the situation in the region and has proved to be counter-productive,” he said. There needs to be trusted among all the stakeholders, he added.

Sangma urged the Nagaland government and the Centre to work together to repeal the Act in Nagaland.

Opining that insurgency is a result of a lot of socio-economic problems, he called for finding a solution to the issue in the right way.

He expressed gratitude to the central government for lifting AFSPA in Meghalaya barring 10 km border belt between Assam and Meghalaya.

To a query whether there is any pressure from the Meghalaya side on the people living in Assam-Meghalaya border areas to be with the Meghalaya state, Sangma said, “The question of influencing the border people does not arise. They have expressed their desire.”

“We need a new approach and different yardstick to resolve the border dispute between the two states in terms of ethnicity and administrative convenience,” he said.

He admitted that the people of the border areas have remained neglected so far.

Sangma said as per the Meghalaya government records, among the 36 villages in the Assam-Meghalaya border areas in question, there are only five non-Garo villages. He said there are 12 areas where differences exist between Assam and Meghalaya.

Hoping to find a solution to the inter-state border issue, Sangma said he and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma will take a final call to resolve it.

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com