State

Meghalaya will gain from border talks with Assam, assures Renikton

Shillong, Nov 18: Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar, who is heading the regional border committee for West Khasi Hills, said on Wednesday that Meghalaya stands to gain from the ongoing talks.

Lyngdoh Tongkhar, who is also the minister in-charge Public Health Engineering (PHE), and his team, along with the Assam regional committee, had jointly visited three out of six areas of difference. These include Tarabari (4.69 sq km), Gizang (13.53 sq km) and Hahim (3.51 sq km).

“In Athiabari area as well as Hahim sector… not less than 20-25 villages which are dominated by the Khasi and Garo people,” he said.

The regional committees have been constituted by both the Meghalaya and Assam governments after the two chief ministers, Conrad K Sangma and Himanta Biswa Sarma, had on August 6 resolved to find an amicable solution to end the dispute in six of the 12 areas of difference shared by the two states.

The other three areas of difference include Boklapara (1.57 sq km), Khanapara-Pilangkata (2.29 sq km) and Ratacherra (11.20 sq km).

The regional committees will submit reports and recommendations on November 30.

“I don’t think we can give any wrong report or to mislead the CM or mislead the state government of both the states. We will report based on our findings and facts on the ground,” Lyngdoh Tongkhar said, adding, “Once this is done, the two chief ministers will again sit to discuss based on the reports submitted by the regional committees.”

On Langpih, he said it would be taken up in the second phase of the exercise but the Khasis and Garos in the area “have already expressed their minds”.

“They cannot even wait till we initiate or till we start the process by starting on their own. They have already sent us their resolution without asking them (which I feel) there is nothing wrong in doing so,” he added.

Recalling the joint inspection carried at Tarabari, Lyngdoh Tongkhar said, “People of Tarabari, which is governed by the Assam state, have given us a surprise by raising their hands and saying we all want to be a part of Meghalaya. Even though it is difficult to say anything, I told them we will try to respect the will of the people.”

“I am happy to see that even the chief minister of Assam when he commented the same that people’s willingness will be respected – so let’s see even though that is not final, it depends, we have to sit again across the table (after the reports are submitted),” he said.

On the Congress’ suggestion against any hasty decision, the Cabinet minister said the present governments in Meghalaya and Assam have dared to go beyond status quo.

“Therefore, we should not delay and if possible, both the states want to take a resolution within this year itself, to decide which villages fall under Meghalaya and which villages are falling in Assam in as far as the six areas of difference,” the HSPDP leader said and asked the opposition party to respect the state government’s initiative.

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