Cabinet nod to border outposts in 7 locations

Police stations by M’laya in Assam territory will have no legal validity: Himanta

SHILLONG/ GUWAHATI, Nov 29: Against the backdrop of the Meghalaya Cabinet green-lighting the proposal to set up police outposts at seven “sensitive” locations along the interstate border, including at Mukroh, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday said Meghalaya’s decision to set up police stations in Assam territory will have no legal validity.
The Meghalaya Cabinet meeting in Shillong on Tuesday approved a proposal to set up police outposts at seven locations, including the violence-hit Mukroh village, along the state’s boundary with Assam.
“The Cabinet approved the proposal for setting up seven border outposts across the Khasi-Jaintia Hills region. Of these outposts, two will be erected at Mukroh and Tihwieh villages along the interstate border in West Jaintia Hills district,” Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma told reporters after the cabinet meeting.
Other border outposts will be set up in Langpih, Lejadubi and Umwali (in West Khasi Hills), Mooriap (in East Jaintia Hills) and Rani-Jirang (in Ri-Bhoi), he said.
The existing border outposts in Patharkhmah and Kyrshai will be upgraded to police stations, the chief minister said.
According to the CM, the expenses for operating each of the border outpost will be around Rs two crore annually.
Sangma said the state’s Director-General of Police will pay a visit to certain villages under the disputed Block-II area and submit a report to the government based on which the location for the police outpost will be finalised.
Himanta, who was in Silchar to attend a meeting of the Assam Cabinet, referred to the dispute over the territorial jurisdiction of Mukroh and said that Assam and Meghalaya have a constitutional boundary with maps available to both the states.
“Maps are available and I am sure that the Meghalaya government will not do anything unconstitutional within Assam. If it does something like setting up a police station in Assam territory it will have no legal validity and the (Gauhati) High Court will quash all cases that come up for hearing as the police stations will be in another state,” he said, adding that the minutes of the border meetings between both the governments are there, which state that status quo should be maintained by both states till a resolution is arrived at.
Himanta also made it clear that taking the life of civilians was not acceptable. “Police should use their weapons against terrorists and criminals and not against civilians. I do not approve of the firing,” he said.
“We are duty-bound to secure the lives of citizens of Meghalaya in Assam and the Meghalaya government too is constitutionally bound to provide security to the citizens of Assam. That is the understanding…So I do not think there is a problem,” Sarma added.
Allaying security concerns of tourists and transporters, the chief minister said that vehicles have been plying between the states in the past few days.
“In fact, the Meghalaya government has never prevented the Assam-registered vehicles from entering the state…it is the Assam government which issued an advisory against travel to avoid flare-ups (in the wake of the tense situation post the incident at Mukroh),” Sarma said. The Assam CM was convinced that the firing incident in Mukroh would not have any adverse effects on the ties between Assam and Meghalaya.
“Such incidents happen because of certain officers, individuals or because of local issues. I don’t think it will have any adverse effects on the broader landscape of Assam-Meghalaya relations. However, I have always maintained and even advised youths in police recruitment rallies that police should never use weapons or fire at civilians. So I do not approve of the firing (by the police) at Mukroh…there could have been other possible ways to prevent thefts in the forest,” he said.
The chief minister further said that negotiations on the interstate boundary were on and that “any boundary adjustment will happen through the regional committees that have formed by the two states.”a

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