If Beijing can do it, so it seems can Itanagar — stake claim to neighbour’s territory.
For many years now, China has been doing it with Arunachal Pradesh, which in turn has accused Beijing of encroaching its territory. India’s “land of the rising sun” now stands accused of doing a China on adjoining Assam.
Assam has charged its northeastern neighbour, with a total area of 83,743 sq km, with influencing the Geological Survey of India’s latest map showing parts of Lakhimpur district within its territory. Much like China’s alleged doctoring of Google maps vis-à-vis Arunachal.
“Arunachal is encroaching on 13,184.88 hectares of our land,” Assam Revenue Minister Bhumidhar Barman said.
Much of the disputed territory along the Assam-Arunachal border is in Lakhimpur district.
The Arunachal government is said to have built official structures in Assam, besides encouraging its people to grab land. It includes some 100 hectares of a tea estate in Assam’s Milanpur area.
“We try our best to keep border battles in check,” Lakhimpur Deputy Commissioner Jayant Narlekar told HT.
There are no pillars to demarcate the border. “Villagers in the disputed zone don’t know which state they belong to,” he said.
Arunachal officials, however, see Assam as the aggressor.
“Our people…have accused villagers and tea estates of Assam of eating up their ancestral land,” a spokesman for Arunachal Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu said. Once such area is Goribanda.
Khandu had sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s help in settling the row. His government had also called for allowing farmers of both states to work fields “irrespective of claims and counter-claims about the border”.
Arunachal is not the only state Assam has a border dispute with. While Nagaland is accused of encroaching upon 66,241.69 hectares, Meghalaya and Mizoram are said to be occupying 5,473.92 and 1,986 hectares, respectively.