The Governments of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh went that extra mile in their quest to solve the decades long boundary dispute by entering into a historic agreement to settle it once and for all. The development follows the signing of a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on April 20 at the Ministry of Home Affairs office in North Block.
The Assam Chief Minister and his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart Pema Khandu were signatories to the boundary settlement agreement.
Speaking on the occasion, the Home Minister said that it was a red-letter day for both Assam and Arunachal Pradesh resolving their decades long boundary dispute amicably. Mr. Shah exuded optimism that the boundary settlement would usher in all-round development and peace in the North East. He said that row involving 123 disputed villages on both sides of the inter-State border along the 800-km long stretch have been resolved once and for all at a time when the country is celebrating its 75th year of Independence.
The Union Minister said the Local Commission Report on settlement of the Assam-Arunachal border issue was kept in abeyance spanning decades, both by the erstwhile Governments and the courts. He added that the latest pact is yet another milestone towards a peaceful, prosperous, and dispute-free North East, with the Modi Government entering into several peace accords since 2019, including those with NLFT, Brus, Bodos, Karbi-Anglong tribes, and the Assam-Meghalaya boundary pact that covered 66% of the disputed area.
He said the result of these efforts were that over 8,000 insurgents in the region have eschewed violence and joined the mainstream. Also, there was a sharp decline of 67% in violent incidents, 60% in security forces deaths and 83% in civilian deaths in the region.
The Assam Chief Minister termed the signing of the MoU as historic and said that it would be the harbinger of peace and prosperity not only in the two States but also the region as a whole.
In his address, Mr. Khandu termed the settlement of boundary dispute as momentous and historic and expressed the hope that it would bring sea change on the peace and development fronts.
The Assam Cabinet on April 19 approved the recommendations given by 12 Regional Committees formed by the State Government to resolve the decades long border row with Arunachal Pradesh.
The Chief Minister of Assam has had several rounds of meetings with his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart to address the boundary problem.
In July last year, both the States signed the Namsai Declaration in which it was agreed to scale down the number of disputed villages from 123 to 86 and resolving the boundary row by forming 12 committees each headed by a Cabinet Minister that would take stock of the situation in the disputed areas, obtain feedback from residents and submit reports to their respective Governments.
The signing of the landmark MoU has earned encomiums from the people at large. “The long festering border dispute between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh has been resolved after a long 50 years, thanks to the sincere efforts of the BJP dispensation at the State and Centre,” said Biren Baishya, a businessman based in Delhi.
Arun Dash in his tweet commented, “This is called statesmanship and nation first policy! Congratulations to both the CMs and Home Minister Amit Shah! After Sardar Patel we have a Home Minister who is doing a great work in integrating the nation. Congrats.”
Sumit Prashar in his twitter handle said other States must take a leaf out of the manner in which the North Eastern States have acted sensibly and not politicising the issue thus paving the way for a permanent solution to the problem.
This historic agreement comes close on the heels of the agreement between Governments of Assam and Meghalaya in the national capital to resolve their 50-year-old pending border dispute in March 2022. The agreement was signed two months after a draft resolution was submitted by the Chief Ministers of the two States to the Union Home Minister on January 31 for examination and consideration by the MHA.
The Governments of Assam and Meghalaya had come up with a draft resolution to resolve their border disputes in six of the 12 “areas of difference” along the inter-State boundary.
Following the border settlement between Assam and Meghalaya and now Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, even Nagaland and Assam are exploring ways to find an out-of-the-court settlement of the border imbroglio with the Dr. Sarma and his Nagaland counterpart Neiphiu Rio getting down to meaningful discussion in New Delhi (on the same day the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh boundary dispute was resolved) to hammer out a solution benefitting both States.