ASSAM MEGHALAYA BORDER DISPUTE
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- Both Meghalaya and Assam State governments stated that they would ask for a probe from a central agency into the Assam Police firing that killed six people along the states’ border.
- Recently, near the border district of Assam and Meghalaya, 6 people were killed and several others injured during an alleged clash between the Assam Police and a mob,
- 5 of the 6 people killed are from Meghalaya. The incident drew a sharp reaction from Meghalaya's Chief Minister, who termed the Assam Police’s actions “inhuman” and said the state will set up a judicial commission and a Special Investigation Team to probe the shooting until a central agency takes over.
- The Assam Police has claimed they opened fire in self-defence after a mob surrounded them when they were trying to intercept a truck allegedly smuggling timber.
- Assam has announced a one-man inquiry commission under a retired High Court judge.
Background of the Assam-Meghalaya conflict
- Meghalaya was carved out of Assam as a separate state in 1972 but the new state challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act, of 1971, leading to disputes in 12 locations in the border areas.
The major point of dispute
- Meghalaya's Langpih district, bordering the Kamrup district of Assam, in West Garo Hills, is a major point of contention between the two neighbouring states.
- Langpih was part of the Kamrup district of Assam during the British colonial period but after India's Independence in 1947; it became part of the Garo Hills and Meghalaya.
- Another point of contention is the Mikir Hills, which Assam considers to be its part.
- Meghalaya has questioned Blocks I and II of the Mikir Hills, now Karbi Anglong region, being part of Assam.
- Meghalaya says these were parts of erstwhile United Khasi and Jaintia Hills districts.
Efforts made to resolve the border issue
- The two states have formed border dispute settlement committees.
- Recently, the Chief Minister of both states decided to set up two regional panels to resolve the border disputes in a phased manner.
- The panel recommended 5 aspects to be considered in resolving the border dispute;
- Historical facts
- Administrative convenience
- Mood and Sentiments of the people concerned.
- The closeness of the land.
In April 2022, In presence of the Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah, a historic agreement was signed in New Delhi by the Chief Minister of Assam and the Chief Minister of Meghalaya for the settlement of the interstate boundary between the States of Assam and Meghalaya, in respect of 6 out of 12 areas of difference.
Key points of the Border Agreement
- Out of the 12 points of dispute between Assam and Meghalaya, the six areas with relatively less critical differences were taken up in the first phase.
- Assam and Meghalaya have partially resolved a 50-year-old border dispute in 6 of the 12 sectors along their 885 km boundary.
- The 6 disputed sectors are Tarabari, Gizang, Hahim, Boklapara, Khanapara-Pillangkata and Ratacherra under the Kamrup, Kamrup (Metro) and Cachar districts of Assam and the West Khasi Hills, Ri-Bhoi and East Jaintia Hills districts of Meghalaya.
- The two States had in June 2021 adopted a “give-and-take” policy to start the process of resolving the boundary dispute by constituting three regional committees each.
- The draft resolution prepared based on the recommendations of the regional panels, proposed dividing the disputed 36.79 sq. km of land into the six areas of difference between the two States.
- While Assam will get 18.51 sq. km of the disputed areas, Meghalaya will get the remaining 18.28 sq. km.
Other Major Agreements of the Northeast
NLFT Tripura Agreement
- The agreement was signed on 10 August 2019 in the presence of the Home Minister.
- As per the MoU, for the overall development of the tribes of Tripura, the Government of Tripura will be provided with a Special Economic Development Package (SEDP) of Rs. 100 crores by the Government of India during five years.
- Out of this amount of Rs. 100 crores, an amount of Rs. 40 crores has already been released to Tripura during the financial year 2020-21.
- A historic agreement was signed in the presence of the Home Minister on 16.01.2020 by the Government of India, Government of Tripura, and Government of Mizoram along with representatives of Bru migrants for the permanent settlement of 6959 Bru families in Tripura with a financial package of about Rs. 661 crores.
- As per the agreement, each resettled Bru family would be given financial assistance in the form of a fixed deposit of Rs.4 lakh, free ration, five thousand rupees per month for two years, housing assistance at the rate of Rs.1.5 lakh, and a land plot of 30x40 square feet.
Bodo Peace Accord
- In the presence of Home Minister Shri Amit Shah, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 27.01.2020 by the Government of India, the Government of Assam, and representatives of Bodo groups to resolve the long-pending Bodo issue.
- Most of the demands of the Bodo groups have been met and the remaining demands would be met when as per the MoU, the committees constituted for this purpose would give their recommendations.
- As per the agreement, a special development package of Rs 1,500 crore (750 crores by the Central Government and 750 crores by the Assam government) will be provided over three years for the all-around development of the Bodo region in Assam.
Karbi Anglong Agreement
- To end the decades-old crisis in the Karbi Anglong region of Assam, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 04.09.2021 in the presence of the Home Minister between the Government of India, the Government of Assam and representatives of Karbi groups.
- As a result of this historic agreement, more than 1000 armed cadres renounced violence and joined the mainstream of society.
- As per the agreement, a special development package of Rs 1,000 crore will be given over five years by the central government and the Assam government to take up special development projects in the Karbi areas.
- This agreement will ensure the protection of the culture, identity, language, etc. of the Karbi people and the all-around development of the region.