Not your land to give to Assam: Mukul tears into MDA govt

NONGSTOIN, April 6: Leader of the Opposition, Mukul Sangma on Wednesday tore into the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Meghalaya and Assam to resolve the 50-year-old interstate border dispute claiming that the land was not theirs to give.
The former CM visited Mawiong under Ri-Bhoi and Mallangkona in West Khasi Hills (WKH) in an effort to understand the ground situation and also provide his insights into what took place.
“The government called a meeting of all political parties after the MoU was signed to discuss things with us. What is the point of a discussion after you have decided unilaterally how the dispute will be resolved? You have also included areas that were never in dispute into disputed areas to show that the deal is equal. This is not your land to give,” said Mukul while addressing a meeting in the village of Mallangkona.
Going into history, Mukul said that one needed to revisit how the dispute even started.
“The Government of India, through the reorganization of the North East region in 1971, had created demarcations between Assam and Meghalaya. In many of the areas, people refused to accept this and thus began the dispute. People were not ready to accept it then and they will not accept it now. This has to be relooked into,” he said.
Tearing further into the MoU, Mukul questioned how the dispute in the land scene between the two states could actually be solved within just two meetings. He also hit out at the claim that the current settlement was based on the survey carried out in 2011, when he himself was at the helm of the state.
“When did this happen. There were no such surveys carried out. The parameters utilized for resolving the dispute is faulty, wrong and unacceptable. The Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma is lying. Problems have been created where there were none,” claimed the AITC leader.
He asserted that the methodology used to resolve the dispute was wrong and had warned the government to not be hasty into resolving the matter.
“Land does not belong to the state of Meghalaya. It belongs to the A’king, the Hima and the Dolloi under various Councils. Even if an individual wanted to join Assam, he cannot do so without the consent of these governing bodies. That is the spirit of the Sixth Schedule. No one has the right to alienate these lands the way they have done,” he added.
The MoU has been signed on six out of the 12 contested areas, with Garo Hills yet to get into the picture. Interestingly, two villages in North Garo Hills — Rangkhet and Dabolapara — have found mention in the district of WKH.
Mukul further blasted the UDP and other supporting groups who have been silent on the tensions that have been created. He said that the current situation in the border areas was palpably tense.
“You can already hear murmurs from them that the MoU needed a revisit from their own leaders. Where were they when this was being forced onto the people of the state? The land may fall under the state of Meghalaya but is not the CM’s to give away,” stated Mukul.
Sangma asserted that the people have rejected the MoU as it was not in their interest to join Assam and lose the Sixth Schedule status. He felt the move to suddenly move such areas into Assam meant that in the coming years, the people would soon become landless as was happening in other Garo-dominated areas of Assam.
Promising to give full support to those that gathered at Mallangkona, the AITC leader said, “There is no politics here. It is the duty of everyone, not only mine. No politics is bigger than the betterment of our tribes. I promise you that even if we don’t have the numbers, we will still fight,” said Mukul.
The leader of the opposition was joined in the meeting at Mallangkona by AITC MLAs, Winnerson D Sangma (MLA) and Lazarus Sangma (MLA) and party MDCs, Cherak Momin, Rinaldo Sangma, Pardinand D Shira and Alphonsush Marak along with locals of the area.
Group opposes MoU on border dispute
The All Khasi Hills A’chik Federation (AKHAF) has opposed the MoU signed on the basis of the give-and-take policy, asserting that Meghalaya gained nothing from the agreement and all benefits went to Assam.
“15 or more villages like Hahim, Salbari, Malchapara, etc., went to Assam on the basis of the give-and-take policy. What has Meghalaya gained from it? Why is the CM only giving and not taking?” questioned AKHAF leader, Sanggra Marak.
“The government should review and revoke the agreement otherwise we will take our own course of action and fight for our people. Regional committees, not just from the ruling party but also from the opposition as well as leaders of various organisations, should be constituted. The regional committees appointed earlier did not do justice,” it demanded.
Ina separate statement, a resident of Maikhuli village under Ri-Bhoi district condemned the statement of Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong on the handing over of a fishery to Assam.
Tynsong, while claiming that the people have been misled, had said that the fishery was not even 25,000 sq ft and that the border dispute would not be solved if people were only concerned about a fish pond.
Condemning Tynsong’s statement, retired schoolteacher Welstone R Marak said, “We have not been misled. The Deputy CM should get his facts straight because the fishery is around 2,90,000 sq ft and not as he claimed. We have already submitted the documents to the CM.”

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