TMC tells MDA 2.0 not to bulldoze people’s emotions

Phase-II of border talks

SHILLONG, April 1: The Assembly session is over and if government’s intentions are to be held true, the stage is set for the next phase of boundary talks between Assam and Meghalaya governments to iron out the dispute in rest of the areas of differences.
But the TMC has reminded the MDA 2.0 that opposition to the MoU for the first phase persists, which, it said, should be should be taken as a lesson to not bulldoze the sentiments of the people.
“We have seen that the government stood by the MoU in the first phase in the recently concluded Budget session also the government was blowing its own trumpet and patting its back claiming to have solve the issue,” said TMC vice president, George B Lyngdoh on Saturday.
Stating that the border is not only about land but people, he asked the government for a guarantee “that the tribal rights of the people living in those areas that the government gifted to Assam will remain as they were when they are with Assam.”
“The Khasi-Jaintia and Garo people or the citizens of Meghalaya who enjoy the tribal rights when they were a part of Meghalaya; can the government guarantee that the same rights will be provided by the government of Assam to these people,” he questioned.
He alleged that the entire MoU between the two states on the first phase was not a give-and-take policy but entirely a ‘gift policy’ of Meghalaya towards Assam.
“We had opposed it tooth and nail when we lost around 18.5 or 4 sq km of land to Assam. When 36 sq km was the claimed area, half of the claimed area has been gifted to Assam. We understood this arrangement was giving away the tribal land at the cost of our people and that historical ownership, scheduled area and also the cost of the tribal rights,” he said.
Lyngdoh recalled that the MoU drew flak from the village-level till the KHADC and opposition was raised at different platform. The government was asked to table the MoU on the floor of the House but the request was denied, he added.
“The government has to be accountable to the people but it was an MoU signed behind curtains and shown as a trophy lifted by the state government for applause. But in fact, we have tribal land, scheduled land, and we have thrown away the rights and secluded people who were under the shadow and protection of the Sixth Schedule. Those sent to Assam will lose out on historical blessing,” he remarked.
On the upcoming Phase-II of the boundary talks, the TMC leader said, “This will be three times the loss and we will be losing more land because the number of villages that were there in 1972 and the number of villages that are there now is different”. He said that the number of villages may have multiplied and the population and demography changed. “The demography have changed because of the calculated move of Assam over the past 50 years and with the kind of attitude shown by the current dispensation towards Assam and Delhi, again we will be losing more land and we will be perhaps losing more rights and gifting away the tribal rights and land to Assam,” he said.
He said the MoU is not finalised as the approval of the Parliament and North East Re-Organisation Act is pending. “Perhaps the Union government is waiting for the completion of phase two for final amendment to the Act”.
He emphasised that there is still time for the government to rethink, relook, and re-negotiate with its Assam counterpart to ensure a “gainful position rather than being seen surrendering all our lands and rights to Assam.”

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