Assam and Meghalaya on Wednesday decided to carry forward talks to find an amicable solution to their decades-old inter-state border dispute with chief ministers of both states planning a joint visit to the “areas of differences” in Karbi Anglong and Jaintia Hills districts in June.
At a chief minister-level meeting held at Koinadhara in Guwahati, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad K. Sangma discussed the prevailing situation along the inter-state border and expressed their commitment to find an amicable solution without setting a deadline.
Assam and Meghalaya had 12 areas of disputes of which six were resolved in March 2022. Wednesday’s meeting resumed the process of resolving the border dispute in the remaining six areas as it had got stalled owing to the Mukroh firing incident on November 22, 2022, on the inter-state border and the ensuing Assembly elections in Meghalaya in February.
Five persons from Meghalaya were killed in firing by Assam police personnel while one forest guard from Assam was also killed in the confrontation, triggering a series of protests in Meghalaya.
Assam has a BJP-led coalition government while Meghalaya has a NPP-led government in which the BJP is a constituent. Both states share a 884km border and the dispute dates back to 1972 when Meghalaya was carved out of Assam.
Sarma tweeted on Wednesday: “We had a very productive meeting. Of the 12 areas of differences, 6 are already resolved. In June, Hon CM Shri @SangmaConrad and I will jointly visit Karbi Anglong & West Jaintia Hills. We will reconvene in July after regional committees complete their groundwork.”
The Assam chief minister told media persons after the meeting: “From today, the regional committees of both the states will start visiting the other areas where differences still exist... the regional committees will submit their reports by July end after which a CM-level review meeting will be held. Both states will resolve the differences in a spirit of the long-existing friendship between the people of Meghalaya and Assam.”
Sangma said in a tweet that he has full faith in the leadership of Sarma and the government of India and with a positive approach “we shall find solutions to the remaining six areas of differences.”
“We have asked the regional committees to do the fact-finding and start the same process as was done for the first phase of talks. We will consult stakeholders and we hope to get the reports soon,” Sangma said.
He added: “At the same time, we have asked the Survey of India to continue with their survey of the first six areas of differences and complete their survey.”
Both chief ministers reiterated they will visit West Jaintia Hills and Karbi Anglong where tension is still prevailing and appeal for peace.
Besides Meghalaya, Assam also has inter-state border disputes with Arunachal, Nagaland and Mizoram, all carved out of Assam. Efforts to settle the border disputes gathered momentum after the border flare-up on July 26, 2021, with Mizoram that left six Assam policemen dead and over 45 injured.