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Assam and Arunachal Pradesh sign declaration to end border dispute

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Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart Pema Khandu on Friday signed an agreement to end the decades-old border dispute between the two states. The two leaders agreed to restrict the number of contested villages to 86 instead of 123.

“We have decided to restrict the ‘disputed villages’ to 86 instead of 123. Based on our present boundary, we’ll try to resolve the rest by September 15, 2022,” Mr Sarma tweeted after the meeting at Namsai in Arunachal Pradesh. Mr Khandu also announced about the agreement through a tweet.

Earlier the two leaders had met on January 24, and again on April 20 during which it was decided that all border issues between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh will be confined to those raised before the Local Commission in 2007.

Both the States constituted 12 Regional Committees each covering the 12 districts of Arunachal Pradesh and the counterpart districts of Assam for joint verification of 123 villages and thereafter make recommendations to respective state governments keeping in view the historical perspective, administrative convenience, contiguity and people’s will to delineate the interstate boundary between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

In the Friday meeting, both Mr Sarma and Mr Khandu agreed in principle with regard to 37 disputed villages.

While Arunachal Pradesh will retain the 28 villages within its constitutional boundary, the state has withdrawn its claim over three villages in Assam. 

Six other villages which could not be located on the Assam side would also remain with the frontier state if they exist in Arunachal Pradesh, the agreement stated.

“Both states would constitute 12 Regional Committees each covering the 12 districts of Arunachal and counterpart districts of Assam for joint verification of 123 villages to make recommendations to respective State Governments,” Mr Khandu tweeted.

These regional committees would submit their first tranche of the report on the areas or any other areas where consensus has arrived, before September 15.

“As and when the regional committees will conclude their deliberations and agreement is arrived at between the two governments, the draft MoU will be referred to the union government for its approval,” the Namsai Declaration stated.

The Assam side apart from the Chief Minister was represented by members of Assam Cabinet Atul Bora, Ashok Singhal, Pijush Hazarika, Bimal Bora, Sanjay Kisan, MP Pradan Baruah, MLA Bolin Chetia and Taranga Gogoi. 

While the Arunachal Pradesh side was represented by Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein and a host of ministers.

The border dispute between the two states was seven-decade-old, but sadly no earlier governments showed the political will to resolve it, Khandu said in a Twitter post and thanked the Narendra Modi government for its guidance in addressing the issue

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