This is in response to the letter penned by Prof P.M Passah under the caption, “Jaintia Hills & Bristish” (ST Decmeber2, 2022) and to all critics who wrongly opined that I mispresented or misread the historical facts by putting the onus of the border imbroglio on the British Rule. While I do not doubt the credibility of the learned Prof Passah and I respect him for being well read, but others are shallow and have nothing new to add to the historical library of the Jaitbynriew Hynniewtrep (Hynniewtrep Community). Therefore, in this letter I would like to respond as follows:
1. That I am grateful that my article on Meghalaya-Assam border had generated discourses in multiple platforms.
2. Already this year I had written twice on the Meghalaya-Assam border issue and I sincerely request the learned Prof Passah to also kindly refer to my article entitled, “No Straight Jacket Solution to Border Disputes” dated 5 April 2022. The genesis of the Meghalaya- Assam border issue can be certainly traced back to the British rule. The British for their own administrative convenience had transferred many villages of Hima Khasi to Kamrup District and in 1875 the demand was made to transfer the ten Khasi villages in mouza Nuniah from the Kamrup District to the Khasi Hills. The first person to stand up in defence of the territory in the Khasi Hills was u Shillong Sing who demanded the transfer of ten villages in mouza Nuinah from Kamrup to Khasi Hills in 1875.
3. After the British and under Independent India, Assam continued the occupation and dominated the entire North Eastern Region, especially the Hynniewtrep Land. Therefore, in my previous article I had clearly stated that as a way forward to solve the border problem Assam “must first undo its big brother attitude…”.
4. Any writer on history must be wary of facts and its interpretation. Like the learned Prof Passah I am also privy to both primary and secondary sources pertaining to the Meghalaya Assam border. I do believe that Prof Passah is also in possession of the petition made by the Cossayah Chiefs to the Court of Directors of British East India Company when they laid claim to the Dwars in Assam in 1837.
5. Well historical facts are also subject to contestation and I am more than ready to stand corrected by new research findings if there are any?
6. The Mukroh Massacre has also given rise to many noises sans historical references. Every time when violent or non-violent incidents erupt at various geographical locations in the Meghalaya-Assam border it generates discourses. But one cannot debate or rather bring forth solutions without understanding the larger historical context of the border line which was created by the British rulers. History clearly shows us that the British created the whole mess and the domination of Assam had made matters worse.
7. There is no disagreement on the fact that Mukroh village was under the erstwhile Hima Sutnga which was later converted into the British territory and subsequently reduced to mere Jowai Sub-Division in 1869. Now the same Mukroh and the adjoining villages are under the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council. Further two large blocks of Villages, i.e, Block I & II which formed part of the Jowai Sub-Division was transferred into the Mikir Hills in 1951 under the composite Assam State. However, the people of Hynniewtrep Land never concurred to the transfer and ever since public movement against the transfer has persisted till date.
8. Lastly, I will never view a border issue or any other matter concerning the rights of indigenous people to land and forests etc., through the Intra-Hynniewtrep communal lenses. And mine is not the hyphenated perception of the Jaitbynriew.