The governments of Assam and Meghalaya on Saturday decided to request the CBI to take over the investigation into the 2022 Mukroh violence along the disputed interstate boundary, in which six people were killed.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad Sangma, in a joint media briefing after holding talks to resolve the interstate boundary dispute, said both states have decided to wind up their respective judicial commissions probing the Mukroh violence.
''As a confidence-building measure, we have decided to wind up our respective judicial commissions probing the Mukroh incident. Instead, both the state governments will now urge the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the matter," Sarma said.
He said that the agency will be requested not to register the case in either Guwahati or Shillong but in a neutral location such as Delhi, Kolkata or any other place.
Sangma said it has been decided to wind up the respective judicial commissions as neither side has been able to make much progress because the witnesses of either state have not gone to the other side to depose before the commission of that state.
"We want a fair and impartial inquiry. So, we decided to refer it to an independent agency, namely the CBI," Sangma said.
Six people, including five Meghalaya residents and a forest guard from Assam, were killed in a firing incident in Mukroh along a disputed section of the Assam-Meghalaya interstate boundary on November 22 last year.
On another border clash between villagers along the districts of West Karbi Anglong in Assam and West Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya on September 26, Sarma said both states have decided to pull back their police forces from the area and the area will be instead manned by the CRPF.
"Moreover, I along with my Meghalaya counterpart will visit the disputed area where the clash took place in the last week of September this year to get first hand report about the prevailing situation along that border," he said.
One person was injured as villagers from Lapangap in Meghalaya's West Jaintia Hills district and Tapat in West Karbi Anglong district of Assam clashed using catapults, and bows and arrows on September 26. Both sides accused the other of attacking them while they were working in their fields.
Sarma further said that Assam was keen to resolve the issues in three of the remaining six disputed areas between the two states at the earliest.
"We are keen to resolve the issues at Langpi, Borduar and Desh Doomreah as these are non-scheduled areas for us and we have better flexibility in these areas," he said.
The modalities, however, will be worked out by the regional committees but the final decision will be taken at the chief minister level, he added.
"We hope to carry forward the discussions in the next two months so that in at least three of the six disputed areas, we can have some positive results. In the remaining three, we will visit the areas and try to create an environment which will lead to resolution of the issue," Sarma added.
Sangma said the talks were held in a very cordial manner and the work in demarcating the border was also progressing well.
"Officials of the Survey of India were also present at the meeting and we requested them to complete the survey in the six areas by December 31 this year," he said.
Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar and Assam Agriculture and Environment Ministers Atul Bora and Chandra Mohan Patowary respectively, along with senior officials of both the states were also present on the occasion.
Both the chief ministers had last met on May 24 and had agreed to take forward the discussions to resolve the issues in the remaining six disputed locations.
Meghalaya was carved out of Assam as a separate state in 1972 and it had challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, leading to disputes in these 12 areas of the 884.9 km long border between the two states.
Sarma, on assuming the chief minister's office in May 2021, had announced that his priority was to resolve long-standing boundary disputes with the neighbouring states.
Subsequently, three regional committees were set up in August 2021 to resolve the issues in a phased manner.
The regional committees submitted their recommendations which were handed over to Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi by the two chief ministers, followed by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on March 29, 2022 to resolve disputes in six of the 12 areas.
According to the agreement, 36.79 sq km of disputed area was taken up for settlement in the first phase with Assam getting full control of 18.51 sq km and Meghalaya over 18.28 sq km of land.
-With PTI Input