Guwahati: The governments of Assam and Meghalaya Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) resolving their border dispute in six of the 12 “areas of difference”.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma signed the agreement — the culmination of a process the two states kickstarted in July last year — in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
“I congratulate the chief ministers of Assam and Meghalaya and their teams on behalf of the Centre and the Modi government,” Shah said at the meeting in New Delhi.
“In such a short time, in the 12-point dispute, six points have been resolved, 70 per cent of the disputed areas will be without conflict. And the other six points will be resolved soon,” he said.
He added that so long as conflicts remain unresolved and not all militants have given up their weapons, the Northeast can’t be developed.
According to a statement released by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), under the MoU, full and final agreement was reached on six out of 12 areas of difference between the two states. Assam and Meghalaya also agreed that no further areas of difference beyond these 12 would be added in future.
The statement quoted Shah as saying that the agreement was a “historic step towards a dispute-free Northeast”, would immensely benefit the people living in the concerned areas, ensure long-lasting peace and boost development.
The agreement “amplifies cooperative federalism and provides a roadmap for resolution of other boundary disputes between states,” the statement said.
The two chief ministers also tweeted hailing the “historic” step:
A historic occasion for people of Assam & Meghalaya as I signed MoU with Shri @SangmaConrad ji in the presence of Adarniya Griha Mantri @AmitShah ji to resolve the 50-year-old boundary issue in 6 areas of difference.
We are confident to resolve the remaining 6 areas too soon. pic.twitter.com/YLAt3qLhLJ
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) March 29, 2022
History is made today with #Meghalaya & Assam signing the agreement to officially resolve the 6 out of 12 areas of differences. Thank Hon’ble PM, Sh. @narendramodi ji & Hon’ble HM, Sh. @AmitShah ji for their guidance in achieving this feat. @himantabiswa pic.twitter.com/yVA5KVGt06
— Conrad Sangma (@SangmaConrad) March 29, 2022
The long-standing land dispute has spanned 50 years since 1972 when Meghalaya was carved out of Assam. The border issues came about as a result of different readings of the demarcation of boundaries in the initial agreement for the new state’s creation.
Final resolution on six areas
The six “areas of difference” included in the agreement are: Hahim, Gizang, Tarabari, Boklapara, Khanapara-Pilingkata and Ratacherra.
On 23 July last year, the Assam and Meghalaya governments had decided to work towards resolving their disputes in the six areas. Following this, the governments set up regional committees headed by cabinet ministers from the two states to study these areas.
The committees adopted a “five-phase approach”, which included the “exchange of records”, “joint field visits”, detailed deliberations, negotiations, and then the preparation of the final recommendations. In each of the areas, the committees would take into account the composition of the local population.
Eventually, the states proposed a “give and take” policy — of the disputed 36.79 square kilometres, Assam would be allotted 18.51 square km and Meghalaya 18.28 square km. The recommendations were then handed over to the home ministry on 20 January.
(With inputs from Ananya Bhardwaj)
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)