Statements of Conrad Sangma and Himanta Biswa Sarma on boundary issue


GUWAHATI: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and Assam Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma met on Friday in Guwahati to start the process of resolving differences in state boundaries.

Statement of Conrad Sangma – excerpts

This is a very important issue and it is a follow up on our Shillong meeting of 23rd July where we decided to meet on 6th August, today. We are very happy that the meeting was positive and constructive. Both the governments are clear that we want to resolve the disputes. A lot of people have suffered for very long because of the differences. A strong political will is required to find a solution in respectful manner. Based on the earlier presentation by Assam on areas of differences, the strategy which both the governments have agreed to follow is to take up these matters in a phase wise manner. There are areas which are lesser complicated, slightly more complicated and some very complicated. So, therefore we will like to resolve these issues by taking the disputes and areas of differences in a phase wise manner. The six areas with differences are: 1. Tarabari,  2. Gijam, 3. Hahim, 4. Boklapara, 5. Khanapara and 6. Ratachera. Out of the 12 areas of differences these six areas are what we have decided to move towards finding a amicable solution.

In interest of assuring that it is done in a much faster manner we have also decided that there will be regional committees that will be formed by both the states headed by a cabinet minister. So, we have three regions where these areas of differences fall in. So these three regions we have three committees from Meghalaya and three committees from Assam each headed by a cabinet minister.

We have decided that we will focus on 1. Historical facts 2. Ethnicity 3. Administrative convenience 4. Willingness and overall people sentiment 5. Contiguity. Based on these five areas or terms we will find a way forward. We have urged these committees to submit their reports and findings after making joint visits within the next thirty days.

The chief minister of Assam and myself, will also be making some visits to some of the areas with differences in order to give a positive message to the people and to show our willingness to move forward to finding a solution on this very important and long pending dispute. I am very positive that with the right political will and with respect to each other that realities of today’s world are also taken in consideration that we will be able to find a solution to this difficult problem that we are facing.

Statement of Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma – excerpts

We have 12 areas of dispute. From Assam side we don’t have any dispute but dispute has arisen because government of Meghalaya has claimed certain territories in these twelve locations. When we met in Shillong we decided that all this 12 disputes cannot be resolved at a time. So we have to take a step by step approach. In the last meeting held in Shillong, government of Meghalaya had given a presentation flagging their perspective on the issue. Today, we highlighted our point of view. After our discussion in Shillong and Guwahati we found that it will be good if we start with six locations. From Assam side these are in Cachar District, Kamrup and Kamrup Metro. From Meghalaya side the areas are in West Khasi Hills, Ribhoi and East Jaintia Hills.

For these three districts there will be a regional committee headed by a cabinet minister from Assam and Meghalaya. The three regional committees will be there to resolve the dispute which are there for West Khasi Hills, Ribhoi and East Jaintia Hills.

This committee will also include bureaucrats and maybe the local representatives. We have decided that from both sides committee will be constituted with five members. Both the governments will notify the five names. These ten people who will be nominated by each of the government will in turn visit the sites and interact with the gaon buras, panchayat members, teachers and civil society members. They will complete their discussion within a period of 30 days. After thirty days when we meet to decide on what should be done. The committees will be headed by the cabinet ministers from both the side. The differences will be narrowed down in the committee meeting itself and our job will be to only authenticate in what arrived in the regional committee. If the differences still exist within the regional committees the matter will be taken up at the level of the chief minister or in a higher forum.

Once these six disputes are resolved, gradually we will move to the other six places. But in the meantime, as a measure of goodwill the Meghalaya chief minister and myself will go to Lumpi once so that people are actually assured that we are going to resolve the complicated issues also. We will start from less complicated issues and move towards more complicated issues.