The process for the second round of talks between Assam and Meghalaya for resolving the border dispute has become “slightly complicated”, following the killing of six people in the November 22 violence at Mukroh village, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said on Tuesday.
Assam and Meghalaya have identified 12 disputed areas along the interstate border. These two northeastern states, which started the first round of discussions in July 2021, signed an MoU in March this year to resolve differences in six areas.
“The situation (for border talks) is slightly complicated and we may not be able to go forward immediately. It could get delayed,” Sangma said here.
The violence at Mukroh village falling in the disputed Block-I area along the interstate boundary has resulted in clashes in the state’s capital Shillong and six districts in the Khasi Jaintia Hills region.
The process for the second phase of talks to resolve differences in the remaining six disputed areas was initiated, and regional committees have also been set up.
“We strongly feel this is the way to move forward in resolving differences along the interstate border,” the Meghalaya CM said, indicating that his government wants to sort out the border dispute at the earliest.
In September, the Meghalaya government constituted three regional committees to examine the issue, and asked these panels to submit reports on the present status of the remaining six areas within 45 days.
The remaining six disputed border areas between the two northeastern states are in Block-I in West Jaintia Hills district, Block-II in Ri-Bhoi and Langpih in West Khasi.
M’laya CM appeals against blame game
In the backdrop of demand for removal of Meghalaya Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui over the Mukroh firing incident, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Tuesday appealed to all political parties to refrain from political blame game and urged them to work together to restore normalcy in the state.
“I personally feel that this is not a time for political blame game or to look at gaining political mileage. This is a very serious situation which was really unprovoked and unexpected,” he told reporters after a cabinet meeting.
On the demand by opposition Trinamool Congress for imposition of President’s Rule in Meghalaya, Sangma said, “There are situations and there are problems that happen but this is not the time to go into the political stand”.
The Chief Minister said that the government has taken many steps to normalise the situation. “Hence, in a situation like this, we need to all come together and work together as citizens of the state. This is not the time to go into the political aspects. After elections we can talk whatever you want, but in this point in time it is important that as leaders we be together for the larger interest of the state and the people,” he underscored.
“We are watching the law and order situation very closely and all our police personnel and entire government machinery is keeping a very strong watch on the law and order situation,” he reiterated.
“People can look at it from whatever way they wish. I have no problem with that. As for me, I have always kept my clear vision and my thoughts and for me peace and tranquillity in the state, the safety of our citizens, the overall growth of our state is of paramount interest. We could use force and make the situation even more complicated or we could have patience, listen or have dialogue, resolve, which is sometimes more tougher; we do that and I prefer doing that,” he spelt out. (Correspondent)
NHRC takes cognizance of Assam-M’laya border violence
The NHRC has taken congnisance of the violence in the disputed area on the Assam-Meghalaya border that claimed six lives earlier this month, the rights body said on Tuesday.
It said the incident was an outcome of the long-pending border dispute between the two states and could have been averted had the controversy been settled earlier.
The Commission observed that whatever be the dispute police has to use restraint in such a situation.
“The National Human Rights Commission has taken cognizance of a memorandum by the chief minister of Meghalaya (Conrad K Sangma) that six persons, including one Assam forest official, had died in firing by the Assam Police and Assam Forest Guards at Mukroh village in West Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya on 22nd November, 2022,” NHRC said in a statement.
There is a need to examine the standard operating procedure, if any, in vogue about firing by armed forces/police in disputed areas between states, it added.
The NHRC asked the union home secretary and Assam chief secretary to suggest measures to prevent such incidents in disputed areas and said their response should be given within two weeks.
M’laya cabinet approves creation of seven Border Out Posts along the inter-border with Assam
The Meghalaya Cabinet on Tuesday approved the creation of seven Border Out Posts (BOPs) in “non disputed, but very sensitive areas” along the inter-state border with Assam.
The BOPs will be set up at Mukroh and Tihwieh in West Jaintia Hills district, Mooriap in East Jaintia Hills,) Mukroh and Tihwieh in West Jaintia Hills district, Rani-Jirang in Ri-Bhoi district , Umwali, Lejadubi and Langpih in West Khasi Hills district, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said.
He further informed that Patharkhmah outpost in Ri-Bhoi and Kyrshai outpost in West Khasi Hills would be upgraded to police stations.
The Cabinet decision comes a week after five Pnar villagers and one Assam forest guard were gunned down by Assam police at Mukroh in West Jaintia hills district on November 22.
“These BOPs would be created in non areas of differences, which already have Meghalaya police’s presence. These were identified as very sensitive areas so we want to build the confidence of the people living there,” Sangma said.
On the proposed BOP at Langpih, which is a disputed area between Assam and Meghalaya, the Chief Minister said, “There is already an Anti Dacoity Camp of Meghalaya police facing the Assam BOP in Langpih and the same will now be upgrade d into a BOP. By doing this, the police forces of both the states can speak to each other and resolve any issues that are there.”
Moreover, he said these measures will ensure normalcy and make people confident and safe in their own villages.
Asked if the government should have first formulate border policy before creating these BOPs, the Chief Minister said, “Yes, I think in the larger scale, obviously there have been discussion about a blueprint that is required which involves developmental activities, law and order aspects, but we have gone into these decisions based on the clear cut requirements. As I have mentioned, that these aspects will be further examine and to look into other areas also which can be part of a larger policy.
“On the expenditure and manpower for these proposed BOPs, Sangma said that setting up of each BOP would cost Rs. 2 crore annually and for setting up an outpost would cost about Rs. 1.5 crore annually.
“Since there would be budgetary provisions for these BOPs, provisions would also be made to recruit manpower, but at the present moment the manpower would be adjusted from those available in the state,” the Chief Minister said.