2nd round of Assam-Meghalaya border talks to be held next month

The second round of Assam-Meghalaya talks over six border areas will be held next month and regional committees have been reconstituted for the purpose.

Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma. (ANI)
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma. (ANI)

Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma on Wednesday told the state assembly that the committees will have discussions with all stakeholders to understand the concerns of the people living in the border areas.

“We will take all stakeholders into confidence before deciding on how to move forward,” Sangma said while replying to a motion opposition Congress legislator Charles Marngar moved on the second phase of the interstate boundary settlement.

Marngar called for the need to review the agreement signed between the two states over the disputed border.

Sangma underlined the issue is very complex and it is difficult to find a solution acceptable to all. “…let us keep the larger picture in mind…If we go with a negative mindset that we will not move an inch and not agree to anything said by the other side, then we will not be able to solve the issue. We must go with open minds sticking to our demands and not compromise the interest of the people.”

He said they are not going to rush and compromise. “…we should ensure we are consistent in our approach keeping the larger interest of the people. While we work to find solutions, we also will ensure sufficient forces are present in the areas of difference so that the safety of our people is maintained.”

Voice of the People Party legislator Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit cited rules and questioned if the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Assam will stand legal scrutiny.

He asked the government to review the MoU. “…we will not allow the government to take us for a ride. How can we allow more than 18 square km of land to be given to Assam? We are on the losing side…anything done in haste will end up in a waste.”

He slammed the government for claiming to have done marvellous work over the boundary issue. “It is not fair because we must also give credit to the previous governments which have done diligent work.”

Sangma said the earlier governments would have meetings and discussions but there was nothing concrete for ending the boundary dispute as they always ended with maintaining the status quo. He added his government has the political will to take the talks to the next level.

He said the two states have held 32 meetings since 1971 before the MoU was signed over the first six areas of differences. Sangma maintained they will go ahead with the MoU while calling it a milestone. “…the MoU [was signed] at the highest level and in presence of the Union home minister,” he said.

Sangma said Tarabari (4.69 sq km), which was under Assam’s control, was given to Meghalaya. “Assam government also pulled out teachers it appointed and now Meghalaya is in the process of appointing the teachers [there].”