| Leaders of Raid Nongtung and pressure groups at a news conference in Shillong on Tuesday. Picture by Evanjoplin Dkhar |
Shillong, Sept. 3: Residents of Raid Nongtung along the Ri Bhoi-Karbi Anglong boundary today threatened to embrace Assam if the Meghalaya government continues to remain indifferent to their woes.
Perhaps, the disillusionment stems from their contention that during every election, representatives of various political parties ask the people to vote for them. But once they are in power, the people are left to fend for themselves.
The chairman of Synjuk Ki Rangbah Shnong (SRS), Blik Sohtun, said if this “cold” attitude continues, the villagers would be forced to merge with the neighbouring state.
The Synjuk Ki Rangbah Shnong is a conglomerate of village heads under Raid Nongtung.
At the same time, the border residents alleged that Assam authorities often harass the villagers of Block II, under which Raid Nongtung falls, which is an area of difference.
“Not only the Assam government, but even militant outfits belonging to Assam harass the villagers by asking them to pay tax on agricultural produce,” Sohtun said here today.
At the same time, Sohtun said people of the area feel insecure as the Meghalaya government does not provide them security.
Moreover, he said the Assam government continues to raise objections to the construction of infrastructure by the Meghalaya government, but Meghalaya never intervenes when Assam carries on construction.
The villagers have urged the Meghalaya government to assist in enrolling them in the electoral rolls of the state.
“Time and again we are being forced by the Assam authorities in Assam to enrol ourselves in their state,” Sohtun said.
He said on April 16, 2012, members of Raid Nongtung had met the Assam authorities. They had urged the Assam government that until the areas of differences between the two states are resolved, they will vote in Meghalaya although they admitted that there were dual voters.
According to Sohtun, the Meghalaya side is only concerned with “votes”.
Chief of Raid Nongtung, Miwel Shadap, said he preferred the Block II areas to be known as “Raid Nongtung, Ri-Bhoi, Hima Khyrim”.
Echoing Sohtun’s views, Shadap said the “lackadaisical attitude” of the Meghalaya government has only permitted Assam to continue developing infrastructure.
He, therefore, wanted the Meghalaya government to disassemble the checkgates at Jatalong, Sabuda, SBI building at Sabuda and removal of the Assam Police Battalion office and creation of a Meghalaya Police outpost in Umwang.
As of now, Meghalaya has a mere police outpost at Mawlasnai.
Aloysius Bina, a resident of Raid Nongtung, wanted Meghalaya to at least resolve the inter-state boundary conflict with Assam before the hill state completes 50 years in 2022.
Both states have a long history of land disputes between them with no solution insight. There are at least 12 areas of difference between the two sides.
These include Langpih, Upper Tarabari, Gizang reserve forest, Hahim, Borduar, Boklapara, Nongwah-Matamur, Khanapara-Pilangkata, Deshdemoreah, Blocks I and II, Khanduli-Psiar and Ratacherra.
They cover an area of around 2,700 square km, of which the two blocks cover around 1,500 square km.
In the areas of difference, both states have been agreeing on the maintenance of status quo, and if any development work was to be carried out on such areas by either side, then the counterpart has to be informed well in advance.