Border disputes: Assam makes fresh charges, Meghalaya denies
Atul Bora, Assam’s border areas development minister, told the state assembly that some residents in the disputed areas were being instigated by Meghalaya to take its side
GUWAHATI: As the year-end deadline nears for the Assam and Meghalaya governments to resolve six of the existing 12 border disputes, tensions flared on Tuesday as Assam’s border areas development minister Atul Bora told the state assembly that some residents in the disputed areas were being instigated by Meghalaya to take its side.
“A section of people is instigating the… Garos of Assam to side with Meghalaya. These residents have been casting their votes in Assam. We’ve [even] given them Covid-19 vaccines,” Bora said, adding that Assam police personnel have been deployed to those areas.
The Assam minister was responding to a discussion in the assembly started by Congress MLA from Boko, Nandita Das, who alleged that some people from her constituency who reside along the border were being “encouraged” by Meghalaya police to pick their side in the dispute.
Bora and Das are members of one of multiple regional committees formed to defuse the border crisis in Kamrup district. They have made visits to the disputed areas and met with the residents.
Das also claimed that some people from Meghalaya were preventing pro-Assam residents from the border areas from attending joint meetings of the panels that are tackling the disputes. She called on the Assam government to provide security to the residents.
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma, however, has firmly denied the claim, saying no such pressure was being applied on people living in the disputed zones.
“I don’t think it’s possible to pressurise anyone in any way,” Sangma told reporters in Shillong on Tuesday. “People will make their choice. We’ve left it to the people to express their concerns. They will decide what’s best for them.”
“There may be some concerns from Assam’s side, but I’m constantly in touch with the Assam chief minister. It’s not possible for us to influence anyone. They (the residents) will make their own choice,” the Meghalaya CM said.
The two chief ministers were expected to meet in Guwahati later on Wednesday to discuss the border issues.
Assam and Meghalaya share a 733km boundary. Border disputes between the two sides were commonplace since 1972 when Meghalaya was carved out of Assam.
Earlier this year, the two state governments agreed to resolve by the end of 2021 six of 12 identified border disputes. An update on that is expected to be announced on December 31.