Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma had both decided of moving from just maintaining the “status quo” and find a solution to both the state’s border disputes in the first meeting on the issue at Meghalaya capital Shillong on Friday.
“We have come to a common understanding that we need to travel from the status quo. Often after such inter-state border dispute meetings, the outcome used to be maintaining the status quo. This time, I would like to tell the people of both the states that we are firm and committed to resolving this dispute,” Assam CM Sarma told media in a joint press briefing along with Meghalaya CM Sangma at Cabinet room in Meghalaya Secretariate in Shillong.
Reciprocating, Sangma said, “As mentioned by the Chief Minister of Assam, the discussion was very positive and we have decided that no longer will we look at status quo as the outcome of the meeting. But we will try to change from the status quo and find a solution to this very long pending issue. As I’ve been mentioning many times in the past, it’s not simple.”
At least seven districts of Assam including Kamrup Metro shares a border with northern and western Meghalaya among which, major disputes regarding the boundaries exist in at least 12 points, acknowledged both the state’s Chief Minister.
Assam CM Sarma said, “We have identified disputes in 12 points where both the states claim it as part of their boundary. We have decided to talk about these 12 points one by one and relevant merits and demerits of claims and counterclaims will be discussed. And places where we will find it easy to resolve, we will begin resolving. It may not be possible to resolve all the issues at a time, but, at least, we can start from some point.”
Following the first round of discussion, Sarma has invited Sangma to Assam to hold the second round of discussion on August 6.
Both Sangma and Sarma unanimously said that if required to resolve, they both will visit the disputed places together physically.
Border disputes between the two states date back to the inception of Meghalaya in January 1971 when two districts of the then Assam — United Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills and Garo Hills — were carved out to form a separate state and the then unified Assam’s capital Shillong was shifted to Dispur while Shillong became Meghalaya’s capital.
“One should not expect or think that we will be able to resolve issues that have been pending for so long in a matter of days. This will require consultation, it will require a lot of homework. It will require us to meet the people also at the grass-root level and we need to look at the current situation of the locations as well,” Sangma said.