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Women activists march over border row

Shillong, July 16: A woman leader of a civil society in Meghalaya scaled a gate of the state secretariat during a protest march today demanding an early settlement of the Meghalaya-Assam border row.

A group of women, under the Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO), led by Irene Hujon, tried to enter the state secretariat to meet chief minister Mukul Sangma.

However, the women were stopped by civil and police officials before they could enter the secretariat.

In the ensuing drama, one of the CSWO leaders — Christabell Wanniang — climbed over one of the secretariat gates as women police personnel tried to stop her.But she managed to set foot inside the secretariat.

Later, the chief minister asked the women to meet him at his office.

Before meeting Sangma, the group met home minister H.D.R. Lyngdoh to discuss the imbroglio.

Speaking to reporters after meeting Lyngdoh and Sangma, Hujon said the row between Meghalaya and Assam had affected the people living on the border villages.

“The government should provide security to the people living on the border villages, especially at Langpih. We have come to know that people in Langpih are being harassed by Assam police. Once it becomes dark, our people cannot venture out of their homes,” Hujon said.

“We were told by the chief minister that the state government has submitted all necessary documents to Assam in relation to the border row.”

Quoting Sangma, Hujon said, “The chief minister also told us that Langpih falls under Meghalaya.”

Wanniangsaid she would wait till Wednesday for the finding committee, constituted by the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC), to submit its report to the council.

“If the committee fails to submit its report, I will join Pynskhemlang Nongshlong in his ongoing fast-unto-death at Nongstoin in the West Khasi Hills,” Wanniang said.

The committee, headed by Rambrai KHADC member K.P. Pangniang, for collecting data related to the border row in the Khasi hills region, was supposed to submit its report on July 10. However, it postponed the report till Wednesday. Wanniang also urged all political leaders to refrain from playing politics with the issue.

“If politicians want to play politics, they should do within their respective constituencies only,” she said.

The group also demanded that the outline map of the state should remain unchanged and that no part of it shall be deducted.

It also wanted the state government to retrieve all areas belonging to Meghalaya, which have been “forcibly claimed” by other neighbouring states.