One of the most iconic images of the year for the Assam Government is one of two smiling chief ministers, Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad Sangma posing with a visibly satisfied Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The occasion was the signing of an MoU between both the States to settle their nearly 50-year-old boundary dispute that had bred violence and plugged development, especially of the border areas, in the two States. The occasion was termed as ‘historic’ by the Union Home Minister whose department gave it a green signal.
Assam and Meghalaya share a 733-kilometre border at 12 sites of conflict. The present agreement has led to an understanding on six sites.
Even though the ink had not dried on the agreement came yet another development on the border front between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. This time Dr. Sarma and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu met in Guwahati and decided to form 12 district level committees to solve the decades old land dispute in a time-bound manner.
The meeting was held nearly a couple of months after both these leaders had met in January 2021 for an official discussion on the issue. The district committees will undertake joint surveys in the disputed areas to find tangible solutions to the long-pending issue based on historical perspective, ethnicity, contiguity, people’s will and administrative convenience of both the States, the Assam Chief Minister tweeted after inking the understanding.
Earlier, in August 2021, Dr. Sarma had stated in the Assam Assembly that there were at least 1,200 areas of dispute along the border with Arunachal Pradesh. The disputes between Assam and four of its north eastern neighbours such as Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram are products of history and the fact that borders were never properly delineated at the ground. Assam and Nagaland share a 434-km boundary while Assam shares a 164.6 kilometre of land with its southern neighbour Mizoram.
The governments of Assam and Nagaland have also reached an agreement over the interState border issue under which both the States agreed to withdraw armed police forces from disputed locations, which helped in restoring normalcy. After the Assam-Mizoram border issue that occurred in July last year, a joint resolution was signed by both the States following which, allout efforts are being made to restore normalcy.