Boundary dispute complex but resolution possible: Tongkhar

NONGSTOIN/SHILLONG, Aug 4: The regional committee on border dispute for West Khasi Hills, led by PHE Minister Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar, is optimistic that the boundary dispute was complex in nature but a resolution was not impossible.
The committee on Wednesday visited the areas of differences in West Khasi Hills. Tongkhar was accompanied by the committee’s co-chairman and Water Resources Minister Brolding Nongsiej, MLAs Macmillan Byrsat, Kimfa Sydney Marbaniang, Gigur Myrthong, former MLA KP Pangniang, Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council MDC Bajop Pyngrope among others.
They visited Kyrdum, Mawsikar, Kamphoduli, Umshek, Gizang (Athiabari) and Tarabari (Malangkona) and met the locals who expressed the desire for a permanent solution to the dispute. They also inspected the areas of differences.
“We expect that we will be able to solve this issue amicably with the cooperation of both governments and stakeholders,” Tongkhar told reporters after the inspection.
He said the committee will hold a meeting to discuss the findings of spot inspection and submit its report to the state government.
“We thought the policy of give-and-take is one of the main ways to resolve the issue but we are open to any other suggestion by any group or individual. We will respect the will of locals and allow them to decide if they want to settle in Meghalaya or Assam,” Tongkhar added.
Sawkmie against ‘give and take’
Opposition Chief Whip, PT Sawkmie has opposed the idea of a give and take policy to resolve the boundary dispute between Assam and Meghalaya and has suggested that the dispute should be resolved on the basis of documentations provided by both the states.
“Based on ground reports, we have seen that Assam has encroached into our land but our people have not done that.  So if we go by this policy, we will stand to lose majority of our land to Assam,” Sawkmie added.
Sawkmie’s statement comes at a time when support has been growing in the state for the give and take policy proposed by Assam Chief Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma and even the MDA constituents have been harping on the same idea for resolution of the dispute.
Though he hailed the talks between the two states, Sawkmie observed that the Meghalaya government should not have much expectation from the initial rounds of talks.
“We shouldn’t expect that everything will be solved in a day. It will take a lot of time,” he added.
Lambor seeks regiment to protect border
Chairman of Meghalaya State Planning Board, Lambor Malngiang on Wednesday wrote to Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma suggesting the need to constitute a Meghalaya Regiment for the protection of the state’s border and territorial integrity.
He said the state government can generate employment by recruiting the local people in the regiment. Further, he suggested that the government should come up with a policy to provide free registration of land to the state’s residents settled along the border.
Malngiang asked the government to provide these residents with electricity, road connectivity, water supply and health care centres.
“We need to strengthen the police force deployed to the interstate border,” he insisted.
He alleged the Assam government has failed to maintain peace and harmony along the border despite the “healthy discussions” between the two CMs on July 24 in Shillong.
‘Stick to terms and conditions agreed upon’
Opposition leader, Mukul Sangma visited Iongkhuli village on Wednesday and said that both the governments of Assam and Meghalaya should adhere to the terms and conditions which have been mutually agreed upon.
“There have been parameters discussed as to how to maintain law and order and not to create any kind of lawlessness in those areas. Based on those mutually agreed terms and condition by both the state of Assam and Meghalaya, it was very clearly indicated that any areas wherever we have any reason to have any confusion or lack of clarity pertaining to anything, the two-district administration (Ri Bhoi and Kamrup) must meet and resolve the issue, when they cannot, then it would be taken up at the Chief Secretary level,” Sangma said.
He also stated that the incident at Iongkhuli village on July 26 occurred due to lack of coordination among the counterparts and observed that there is a need for the District Administration of Ri Bhoi to engage with their counterpart in Kamrup to ensure that such incidents are not repeated as the authorities are responsible for ensuring peace and tranquillity.
He also stated that it is the responsibility of the Government of Meghalaya to ensure a sense of security among all the people across the border.
Sangma was accompanied by Nongpoh MLA, Mayralborn Syiem, Mawsynram MLA, Himalaya Shangpliang, West Shillong MLA, Mohendro Rapsang, Ampati MLA, Miani D Shira and Nongpoh MDC, Balajied Rani, besides others.

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