After making significant progress in solving the boundary dispute with Meghalaya, the Assam government is now turning its attention towards fixing the decades-old border issues with two other northeastern neighbours, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
On Monday evening, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma met his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart, Pema Khandu, in Guwahati. He met Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton and NPF legislature party leader T R Zeilang on Sunday.
Solving boundary issues with neighbours is our priority.
Discussed with Hon’ble CM of Arunachal Pradesh Sh @PemaKhanduBJP, who came all the way to Guwahati, measures for permanent solution to the long-pending issue. We decided to conduct ground level survey on boundary status. pic.twitter.com/1fkAgSCMfT
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) January 24, 2022
“Solving boundary issues with neighbours is our priority. Discussed with Hon’ble CM of Arunachal Pradesh Sh @PemaKhanduBJP, who came all the way to Guwahati, measures for permanent solution to the long-pending issue. We decided to conduct ground level survey on boundary status,” Sarma tweeted after meeting Khandu.
Arunachal Pradesh, which was earlier a part of Assam, has witnessed frequent flare-ups along its over-800-km boundary with its parent state. Clashes were first reported in 1992, and since then there have been several accusations of illegal encroachment from both sides, and intermittent clashes.
In August 2021, Sarma told the State Assembly there were at least 1,200 areas of dispute along the border with Arunachal Pradesh, and that the two states were working toward solving it. Nagaland, on the other hand, shares a 500-km boundary with Assam, which it was carved out of in 1963. There have been sporadic incidents of violence on this border, too, since 1965—the major ones having been in 1979 and 1985, in which hundreds were killed. The border disputes with both the states have reached the Supreme Court.
On Monday, however, Rio said both Assam and Nagaland were ready for an out-of-court settlement. “We had gone to Guwahati and had fruitful discussions on the border issue with Sarma. Both the state governments are in favour of an out-of-court settlement, and maybe our teams will meet Shah in the first part of February to discuss and formulate how to go about it,” a news agency quoted Rio as saying.
Since bloody clashes erupted along the Mizoram-Assam border in July 2021, leading to the death of six Assam policemen, the Assam government has been taking proactive steps to address the border issue with its other neighbours.
The latest development involved Sarma and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma submitting their recommendations about six areas of dispute along the border to Union Minister Shah last week. They proposed that of the total 36.79 sq km in dispute, Assam would get 18.51 sq km and Meghalaya 18.28 sq km. Addressing a press conference on Sunday, Sarma said the ball was now in the Centre’s court. He said no talks were on with Mizoram, but Assam’s Border Area Development Minister, Atul Bora, was in touch with the Mizo home minister on the issue.
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