regular-article-logo Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Assam and Arunachal Pradesh governments ink border pact

Number of disputed villages down to 86 from 123

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 16.07.22, 12:29 AM
Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Himanta Biswa Sarma. File photo

Assam and Arunachal Pradesh governments on Friday signed the Namsai Declaration, bringing down the number of disputed villages along the inter-state border to 86 from 123.

Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma announced the “historic” development through a series of tweets soon after signing the declaration to resolve the decades-old inter-state border row at Namsai town in the eastern Arunachal, over 300km from Itanagar and 550km from Guwahati.


In March, Assam and Meghalaya, which share an inter-state border of around 885km, had signed a similar accord in presence of Union home minister Amit Shah to resolve their border disputes in six of the 12 less complicated sectors after several rounds of talks and by adopting a “give-and-take policy” which will saw Assam get 18.51sqkm of the disputed border area and Meghalaya 18.28sqkm. The same policy is being followed to resolve the dispute with Arunachal Pradesh.

Khandu tweeted: “July 15, 2022 ~A historic day, as I and Hon CM Assam, Shri @himantabiswaJi signed the Namsai Declaration resolving the border dispute between Arunachal and Assam.

Guided by Hon PM Shri @narendramodiJi & Hon HM Shri @AmitShah Ji we could achieve this important milestone.”

The Arunachal Pradesh chief minister further said that the border dispute between Arunachal and Assam was “seven-decade old”, but earlier governments showed “no” political will to resolve the row. “We were able to make a headway in resolving the issue under the guidance of the prime minister and the home minister,” Khandu said.

Sarma was equally bullish. “Immensely happy to announce the signing of Namsai Declaration at the CM-level meeting between Assam & Arunachal Pradesh. Inspired by Adarniya PM Shri @narendramodiji & guided by Adarniya HM Shri@AmitShahji, we could achieve this landmark in resolving our long-pending border disputes,” he tweeted.

Sarma also said that both the chief ministers have decided to restrict the “disputed villages” to 86 instead of 123. “…Based on our present boundary, we'll try to resolve the rest by 15 Sept 2022. This is a milestone in the history of our friendship & brotherhood,” Sarma said in a tweet.

Of the 37 villages where there is no dispute, 34 villages are located in Arunachal and three in Assam, sources said.

Besides Sarma and Khandu, several other ministers of both states were present. Arunachal Pradesh deputy chief minister Chowna Mein, Assam ministers Atul Bora, Pijush Hazarika, Ashok Singhal, Bimal Borah, Sanjoy Kishan, MLAs Taranga Gogoi and Bolin Chetia and MP pradan Baruah were present on the occasion.

Assam shares an 804-km inter-state border with Arunachal Pradesh and as many as eight districts in the frontier state and 12 districts in Assam are affected by the border row since Arunachal Pradesh became a Union Territory in 1972. It attained statehood in 1987.

Assam had even moved the Supreme Court in 1989 to get the dispute resolved after official attempts failed to yield a result but nothing came of the court's suggestions.

The dispute is “attributed” to a 1951 report by the first chief minister of Assam Gopinath Bordoloi transferring about 3648sqkm from Arunachal Pradesh (then known as the North East Frontier Agency) to Assam’s Lakhimpur and Darrang districts, something that was not accepted by the frontier state.

However, both the BJP-headed state governments are taking steps to resolve the issue. The meeting in Namsai was the third involving both the chief ministers.

Earlier 12 regional committees were formed by each state that will submit an interim report by September 15 to both the governments after making joint field visits, inspecting the disputed area and interacting with the local residents. The state governments will then submit a final report to the Centre.

Assam also has border issues with Mizoram and Nagaland which were also carved out of the state like Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.

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