Reiterating the need to resolve the long-pending inter-state boundary dispute between Meghalaya and Assam, the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) demanded the formation of a consultative committee that will thoroughly examine maps and documents related to the areas of dispute.
The HSPDP, which is part of the coalition Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government, disagreed with the then Congress-led government that handed over dossiers related to the 12 disputed areas to Assam in 2011, stating that handing over the documents to Assam “as if Assam is a judge that adjudicates the matter related to the boundary dispute.”
“The consultative committee should be constituted and all stakeholders including all political parties the three Autonomous District Councils, and chiefs of various traditional institutions having territorial jurisdiction in the disputed areas, apart from social organizations, should be part of this consultative committee to thoroughly examine the documents and come out with a comprehensive report as far as the 12 areas of difference with Assam,” HSPDP president, KP Pangniang said on Friday.
Pangniang also said autonomous district councils should play a big role in producing documents together with the state government in proving that areas along the inter-state boundary are part of Meghalaya, historically, legally and constitutionally.
According to Pangniang, to date, there was no comprehensive report on the disputed areas of Meghalaya.
Pangniang said that talks to find a solution to the long-pending inter-state boundary dispute had been held for the past 48 years at the level of chief ministers, ministers, chief secretaries, district administrations, but no sign of finding the solution till date.
“Recently when we met the chief minister as the delegation of the Regional Democratic Alliance (RDA), we have stressed that talks should resume, and we need to form the consultative committee on boundary dispute,” Pangniang said.
The former MLA also appealed to all residents along the inter-state boundary especially in disputed areas to assert their clear stand in one voice that they are residing in the boundary of Meghalaya.
“Right from the time of the Hill State Movement, our people who wished to have a state of our own were united only with one strong voice, ‘no hill state, no rest’,” he said.
“We expect all residents who are the sons and daughters of Meghalaya to show our solidarity by not trying instead to become dual residents of Meghalaya and Assam,” the HSPDP leader added.
Rejecting the submission of maps and documents by the Meghalaya government to Assam in 2011 on the 12 areas of difference, Pangniang said, “Submitting Meghalaya’s documents on the disputed areas cannot be accepted because it shows as if Assam is the judge that will pass judgement on the matter. ”
“Meghalaya and Assam are parties and they have to sit across the table to find a solution to the pending problem,” he added.
“The Centre through the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah has reiterated its advice to both Meghalaya and Assam to settle the dispute mutually and amicably. If Assam refuses, then we will have to inform the Centre,” he further said.
Urging the state government to treat this issue as a top priority and find a solution before Meghalaya attains 50 years of statehood in 2022, Pangniang also recalled the Union home minister assured that the inter-state boundary issue in the Northeast would be settled in two years.
On August 9, 2011, during the tenure of the Congress-led governments in both the states, Meghalaya submitted documents and maps to Assam on the 12 areas of difference during the chief secretary-level talks held at Dispur in Assam.
The documents and maps for around 2,700 square km disputed area were compiled by Meghalaya.
The 12 sectors comprised Block-I and Block-II, Ratacherra, Khanduli-Psiar, Khanapara-Pillingkata, Deshdemoreah, Nongwah-Mawtamur, Boklapara, Borduar, Langpih, Hahim, Gizang Reserve Forest and Upper Tarabari.
About 1,500 square km of the disputed area falls under Block-I and Block-II.