Trinamool’s Sangma demands scraping of Assam-Meghalaya border pact

Trinamool Congress leader and former Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma on Tuesday demanded scrapping of the Assam-Meghalaya inter-state border agreement, signed in March this year to resolve the border disputes.

Settling the 50-year-old dispute, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad K. Sangma, in presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi, signed a “historic” agreement on March 29 to resolve inter-state border disputes in six of the 12 locations in the first phase.

After organising a sit-in demonstration near the Parliament house in Delhi on Tuesday, Mukul Sangma said that any resolution that is decided upon should be acceptable to the people.

“The people of Assam and Meghalaya are like brothers and sisters. We are an integral part of the vibrant community of the northeastern states. Meghalaya, which was formerly a part of Assam, received statehood as our forefathers deemed it necessary. Currently, there are 12 identified areas of difference between the two states. The dispute resolution process must be acceptable to all stakeholders,” he told the media.

He said that the government has forgotten that to resolve such a problem, all the stakeholders need to be taken on board, and in the context of Meghalaya, the stakeholders are people to whom the land belongs.

“In Meghalaya, the local institutions have ownership over the land. Therefore, resistance from the people has sprung up. The government of the day is in the mood to impose a decision which is not consistent with the spirit of democracy.”

Sangma, who, along with 11 other Congress MLAs, joined the Trinamool in November last year, also said that language is an indispensable part of their identity.

“The Garo and Khasi languages’ inclusion would multiply job opportunities for the youth of the state. Equal opportunity for all youth seeking employment must be provided. Due to the deprivation of the youth, palpable disgruntlement is on the rise,” he added.

Meghalaya was carved out of Assam as a separate state in 1972 before the state had challenged the reorganisation act, 1971, leading to disputes in 12 bordering locations along the 884.9 km long inter-state border. Due to the border disputes, several violent incidents happened in the past with the major such flare-up in 2010, four persons were killed in police firing at Langpih, one of the 12 disputed areas.

Assam has border disputes with Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Mizoram. The worst-ever violence along the Assam-Mizoram border on July 26 last year left six Assam Police personnel dead and nearly 100 civilians and security personnel of the two neighbouring states injured.

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