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State faces fresh protest

- Office picketing in Khasi-Jaintia hills on Friday

Shillong, July 9: Renewing its appeal to the Centre to intervene in inter-state border dispute between Meghalaya and Assam, the People’s Movement, a conglomerate of social organisations, civil society and public representatives, today announced a fresh agitation by calling for picketing in all offices on Friday.

Making the announcement here, the chairman of the organisation and UDP legislator Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit said the office picketing would be observed in the entire Khasi-Jaintia hills region.

At the same time, a series of public meetings will be held by the organisation.

“We have been compelled to take the step in order to pressure the state government to comply with our demands. The demands include suspension of dialogue with the Assam government and ensuring safety and security of our people living in the border areas,” Basaiawmoit said at a news conference.

He said suspension of talks with Assam was a necessity as the neighbouring state had been indulging in various acts of atrocities against the people living along the villages on the inter-state border.

“Continuation of dialogue with Assam is against our demand. The state government should engage directly with the Centre and settle the problem immediately. It should be the Centre that will decide as to whose claim (whether Meghalaya or Assam) over the disputed areas, including Langpih, is right,” the UDP legislator said.

Stating that the state government had not done enough to pursue with the Centre the inter-state border dispute, he said if New Delhi does not listen to the Meghalaya government, a time will come when it will have to listen to voices of the people.

At the same time, Basaiawmoit was quick to add that the movement was “not against” the state government. “In fact, we believe that this movement will be a source of strength to the Meghalaya government to approach New Delhi,” he added.

On the documents submitted by Meghalaya to Assam on disputed areas, Basaiawmoit said: “According to a verbal communication I have received, Assam is not agreeing to the documents given by the state government.”

Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma said his government had submitted all relevant documents to Assam to justify its claim over the 12 areas of dispute between the two states. A reply on this regard was awaited from the neighbouring state.

Basaiawmoit said the fast-unto-death at Langpih, on the fringes of West Khasi Hills-Kamrup border was still on. The fast has been undertaken by activists of the movement led by 28-year-old Pynskhemlang Nongshlong from Rambrai village.

Asked whether the activists would call off their fast if the state government dispatches a written assurance about solving the border imbroglio at the earliest, he said: “It will be the movement which will take the call whether the fast will be called off. All decisions will be taken by the movement.”

The fast, which commenced on June 30, entered the ninth day today.

Written assurance ready: Meghalaya home minister H.D.R. Lyngdoh said the written assurance on the seriousness of the government to solve the border imbroglio would be submitted to the activists tomorrow.

“The written assurance will be given by the state government to the West Khasi Hills district administration which will, in turn, deliver the same to the activists at Langpih,” Lyngdoh told reporters.

During his visit to Langpih last Friday, the activists asked Lyngdoh to provide them with a written assurance which should spell a definite timeframe for the resolution of the conflict before they could call off their fast.