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Assam-Meghalaya Pact Can Be Model for Other States to Settle Border Disputes: CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma (left) shakes hands with Meghalaya CM Conrad K Sangma after signing an agreement on boundary dispute in the presence of Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on March 29. (PTI Photo)

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma (left) shakes hands with Meghalaya CM Conrad K Sangma after signing an agreement on boundary dispute in the presence of Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on March 29. (PTI Photo)

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma stresses that the MoU between Assam and Meghalaya materialised after 'immense hardship', and there have been 22 rounds of discussion to resolve the 50-year-old border row

Assam now focuses on resolving border disputes with Arunachal Pradesh on the lines of Assam-Meghalaya Memorandum of Understanding, which was signed on Tuesday by chief ministers of both the states in the presence of home minister Amit Shah to resolve five decades’ old border dispute.

“Local MLAs of both the states, student organisations like the All Assam Students Union and All Bodo Students Union along with their Arunachal counterparts have to sit together along with the local people to resolve the vexed issue. If the local inhabitants agree then only a viable solution for border disputes can be achieved,” said Assam CM Sarma.

The CM stressed that the agreement between Assam and Meghalaya can be a “model” for other states to settle border disputes. “The agreement between Assam and Meghalaya materialised after immense hardship. To date, there have been 22 rounds of discussion. For each disputed area, there is a regional committee likewise Meghalaya, too, had their regional committee, which visited the disputed areas and took stock of prevailing situation. The MoU that both the chief ministers have signed is not final, it has to be passed in Parliament…” said Sarma.

Both the states have a long-standing dispute over 122 villages on either side of the interstate border. Assam shares a length of 804.10 km inter-state boundary with Arunachal Pradesh. To solve the boundary disputes with Assam-Arunachal Pradesh a case in Original Suit No. 1/1989 has been filed in the Supreme Court.

Arunachal shares an 804.1 km long boundary with Assam. The boundary dispute between the two states came to the fore after the establishment of Arunachal Pradesh as a Union Territory in 1972. The process of demarcation of the boundary between Assam and Arunachal started in 1972 and by 1979, 396 km of the boundary was demarcated. The process had to abruptly suspended due to anomalies.

The border dispute between the two states arose when Arunachal Pradesh refused to accept the 1951 notification as the basis of boundary delineation. In April 1951, on the recommendations of the Bordoloi Committee, a total of 3,648 sq. km of the plain area comprising the present-day Darrang, Dhemaji and Jonoi districts was transferred to Assam. Arunachal argues that the plain area was transferred to Assam without the consent of its people.

In 2007, Arunachal Pradesh presented its proposal in front of the Tarun Chatterjee Commission in which it increased its request of return of territory from 956 sq. km to 1,119.2 sq. km. Assam rejected it in 2009 and argued that the boundary should be settled in the spirit of give and take.

Assam has raised the issue of encroachment in 2020 and claimed that Arunachal Pradesh has encroached upon 6,375 hectares of its forest land. It is important to note that the Assam government has been periodically launching eviction drives in the encroached lands leading to violence on the ground and tensions such as in 2005 and 2014.

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