Hundreds of tribal landowners in Meghalaya have threatened to move the United Nations over the recent Indo–Bangla boundary agreement, saying they were "not made party" to the decision taken by both the governments.
Demanding an immediate review of the agreement, landowners, Rangbah Shnongs (traditional village heads), Syiem and Dolloi (heads of states) in their meeting at Dawki last week said "the agreement was finalised without their knowledge".
"As indigenous people, a petition would be sent to the United Nations Organisation for intervening and overseeing a fresh boundary survey under the mandate of the UN," Grand Council of Chiefs chairman John F Kharshiing said in a statement in Shillong on Monday night.
Expressing serious concern, he said the protocol and agreements between India and Bangladesh have been arrived at "in absence and ignoring the claims of landowners and indigenous traditional institutions which is also a violation of Indigenous Human Rights."
Exchanges of land, especially from international boundary pillar 1251 (Nongjri) upto IB Pillar 1299 (Hawai Sangkhat- Jaliakhola) and IB Pillar 1315 upto 1318 at Nunchera show a loss of 278 acres area to Khasi and Jaintia including others, Kharshiing said.
"The lack of clarity in the protocol and the bill passed by the Parliament would seriously affect areas such as Raid Mukertilla and Hima Khyrim upto the extent that IB Pillar 1272 is presently located along the sacred forest of the Ryngksai Clan at Umkrem village and there is every possibility that this precious biodiversity will also be lost to Bangladesh," he said.
"Among other villages to be adversely affected by the new demarcation are Umkrem, Lyngkhat, Pyrdiwah, Tamabil, Amsku, Amjalong, Rongkum, and Muktapur whose village elders and the landowners along the international border were not consulted before the agreement," the statement said.
According to the tribal chiefs' leader, the tribal Khasis and Jaintias in Meghalaya have a different landholding system and as such the District Council, the state government and Centre "ought to recognise" these customary land laws.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Dhaka on June 6, India had formalised the long pending Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh.