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Govt accepts suggestions of stakeholders on border dispute  

Shillong,  Dec 15:  The state government has accepted the suggestions given by stakeholders for resolving the long pending boundary dispute with Assam after a consultative meeting chaired by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and attended by KHADC and JHADC chiefs, political parties, traditional heads and members of the civil society organisations.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said the state government has accepted the views and suggestions given by the different stakeholders on the issue.

“I am happy to tell you that we will go forward. The government will examine thoroughly the views and suggestions of the stakeholders as the chief minister will meet the Assam chief minister sooner or later,” he said.

The majority of stakeholders have stressed the need to base the discussion with Assam as per land documents and historical background, he said.

Tynsong, who also headed the regional committee for Ri Bhoi, said that the discussion with the stakeholders revolve around the first six areas of difference which both the governments have agreed to resolve at the earliest.

“Once they are resolved, the other six locations will also be taken up by next year,” he said.

Till date, two of the three regional committees have submitted their respective reports to the chief minister. Tynsong said the regional committee for East Jaintia Hills is expected to submit its report by next week.

On making the reports public, the deputy chief minister said, “Let the two chief ministers sit down and ultimately once the decision is taken we will make reports public. But right now, we cannot do that…as we are not supposed to put it in the public domain.”

HSPDP leader and cabinet minister Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar said the boundary problems within a village or Hima should be avoided. “We request that we should be united and should not talk about this problem at this point of time while we are in the process of solving the border area with the government of Assam,” Tongkhar said.

To a question whether the six areas of difference can be resolved within this month, Tongkhar said, “I must appreciate the steps taken by CM to talk to Assam CM and we hope that if we can get the same response we may be able to solve some of the villages or sectors but that I cannot assure you anything let the talks take place between the two governments but from our side, we would that to happen as a Christmas gift to some of the villages if we can agree to solve and decide within this month itself.”

BJP state president Ernest Mawrie said the party has suggested that since Meghalaya is going to celebrate its 50th year of statehood, this is the right time to resolve the boundary dispute once and for all.

UDP, KHNAM and PDF leaders also participated in the meeting.

KHADC submits boundary report

Earlier, the KHADC’s border committee handed over a report with land records and maps of the areas under the council and Himas to the government.

“This is our first meeting, it is also the first time in the history of the council that we have prepared a comprehensive report regarding the boundary dispute”, the KHADC CEM, T Chyne said.

According to the KHADC CEM, the state government should consider the paragraph 20 of the 6th schedule which means that 1952 should be the reference for deciding the border dispute.

The chief minister assured the council that para 20 of the 6th Schedule will be referred.

KSU wants consultation      

After meeting the government, the KSU general secretary Donald V Thaba said the government should take into confidence the traditional heads and the residents of the border areas.

According to the KSU leader, as the state was created on linguistic lines, ethnicity, traditions and customary law which are binding the people of Meghalaya, should be kept in mind in the discussion on border as there should not be any alienation of people.

Highlighting on the concept of hill state, Thabah said, “If a Khasi village or a Khasi Hima or part of a Hima falls under Assam, then the concept of a hill state is incomplete.”

“Therefore, documents should be studied thoroughly and suggestions given by the traditional chiefs should be taken into consideration for discussion with Assam, if they want to be part of Meghalaya they should be part of Meghalaya. If a part of Hima falls within Assam they will lose their ST status because Assam is not under the Schedule list,” he said.

HNYF president Sadon K Blah said the NGOs have stressed on the need to resolve the dispute based on traditional boundary.

“As simply saying that we go by the parameters of give and take, we might fail somewhere and do not know where to give and where to take,” he said.

FKJGP general secretary Dundee C Khongsit said that the organisation has asked the government to take into consideration the people residing in the border including land owners and traditional bodies before taking a final call on the issue.

The NGOs have also asserted the need for land registration in the border areas.

“We have asked the government to direct the DC of West Khasi Hills and South West Khasi Hills to visit the border areas for land registration and not to wait for the people from the border to come to the DC office,” Khongsit said.

“In Meghalaya, the land is owned by the people but in Assam land belongs to the government, so if we go by public referendum I think all those border areas will come to Meghalaya but now Assam government is very swift with developmental activities.”

 HYC wants govt to place report in Assembly   

The HYC has asked the state government to place a report before the Assembly prior to making any decision to ink the boundary settlement pertaining to the six areas of difference with Assam.

“We have demanded the state government that before it decides to ink the settlement for the six sectors, to place some sort of a report or recommendations before the state legislative assembly which is the supreme law making authority in our state,” HYC president Robertjune Kharjahrin told reporters after the consultative meeting.

“This is because we would like to see a united voice among the MLAs in our state. If the government goes ahead without informing the state legislative assembly, there will be some sort of two-three voices and that will further disturb he fragile situation on the border,” he said.

He also asked the government to call for another round of meeting with the stakeholders.

The HYC chief said this is necessary to ensure that people know which areas are  part of Assam and which are part of Meghalaya.

“We do hope that the settlement of the first six areas of difference will give a very good signal to all the other six areas so that we can resolve the boundary dispute once and for all,” he added.

The HYC said Meghalaya should not accept if Assam is trying to impose several constitutional notifications, several laws while trying to settle the boundary dispute.

“This is because a notification like the one in 1971 for transfer of villages from Khasi and Jaintia Hills to Mikir Hills is something we should not accept as that particular notification was done without our consent or wish or without consulting the leaders of the hill state,” he said.

“We also raise objection to the Assam Reorganization Act, 1969 and also North East Reorganization Act, 1971 because if we allow Assam to bring this notification for settlement of the boundary dispute, it will not be good because this notification is already against our aspirations and is already against our sentiments,” he added.

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