Residents hope for amicable solution
GUWAHATI, Jan 28: Residents of areas bordering Assam and Meghalaya near here are pinning their hopes on the mechanism agreed upon by the two states for an amicable solution and achieving lasting peace in six areas of differences.
“We do not know the details of the recommendations made by the regional committees but we have heard, in the media, that the disputed area in the six areas would be divided almost equally between the two states,” L. Lyngdoh, a member of the Maikhuli village Dorbar in Ri-Bhoi district, told The Shillong Times.
“We anticipate an amicable solution for lasting peace along the interstate boundary in the Pillangkata-Khanapara sector,” Lyngdoh said.
Regional committee (Ri-Bhoi and Kamrup Metro districts) chairpersons had visited Maikhuli and other areas in the Khanapara-Pillangkata sector in October last and taken views from the residents.
“The panel members also visited the Maikhuli playground (which houses a couple of primary schools) and the big pond adjacent to it, belonging to Meghalaya, and spent some time with the residents for their views,” he said.
There are sections who want a decision based on the Survey of India’s demarcation of boundaries five decades back.
“The Survey of India had demarcated the boundaries when Meghalaya was carved out of Assam. So we prefer a decision based on the Survey of India map even as we want a mutually acceptable solution,” WL Marak, adviser & treasurer of the Maikhuli village Dorbar, said.
Marak alleged that since 1990, illegal occupation of land in the area has taken place on a large scale.
“So once the border issues are addressed and resolved at the highest level, such illegal occupation and tension would be a thing of the past,” he hoped.
As it is, both the Meghalaya and Assam Cabinets have approved the mechanism towards reaching a final settlement in six areas comprising Tarabari, Gizang, Hahim, Boklapara, Khanapara-Pillangkata and Ratacherra – falling under West Khasi Hills, Ri-Bhoi and East Jaintia Hills districts in Meghalaya and Kamrup Metro, Kamrup and Cachar districts in Assam.
Both states have moved ahead on the give-and-take formula in six (out of the 12 areas of differences) disputed areas, based on historical facts, ethnicity, administrative convenience, contiguity of the land, willingness, and people’s sentiments.
At Pillangkata, just a few metres away from Maikhuli, CK Sangma, the headman (of Pillangkata-A), is a tad reserved on the outcome of the final round of talks but hoped for a permanent solution to burning issues in the area, where there have been claims and counter claims over land from both states over the decades.
“We are hopeful that these issues will be settled once and for all. Let us wait for a final decision,” he said.
The headman’s feelings were echoed by Ardenson Marak, a retired primary school teacher and a resident of the area.