The process for the second round of talks between Assam and Meghalaya for resolving the border dispute has become “slightly complicated”, following the killing of six people in the November 22 violence at Mukroh village, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said on Tuesday.
Assam and Meghalaya have identified 12 disputed areas along the interstate border. These two northeastern states, which started the first round of discussions in July 2021, signed an MoU in March this year to resolve differences in six areas. “The situation (for border talks) is slightly complicated and we may not be able to go forward immediately. It could get delayed,” Sangma said here.
The violence at Mukroh village falling in the disputed Block-I area along the interstate boundary has resulted in clashes in the state's capital Shillong and six districts in the Khasi Jaintia Hills region.
The process for the second phase of talks to resolve differences in the remaining six disputed areas was initiated, and regional committees have also been set up.
“We strongly feel this is the way to move forward in resolving differences along the interstate border,” the Meghalaya CM said, indicating that his government wants to sort out the border dispute at the earliest.
In September, the Meghalaya government constituted three regional committees to examine the issue, and asked these panels to submit reports on the present status of the remaining six areas within 45 days.
The remaining six disputed border areas between the two northeastern states are in Block-I in West Jaintia Hills district, Block-II in Ri-Bhoi and Langpih in West Khasi.
What we know of Assam-Meghalaya border firing
The Assam Police opened fire in what it says was an act of self-defence and took place when the forest party attempted to stop a truck smuggling timber. The incident occurred in the Mukroh village on the Assam-Meghalaya border.
“When the truck was stopped by the forest party personnel, they were gheraoed by unknown miscreants who resorted to violence. In order to save their lives, the forest party resorted to firing. In the incident, three civilians and one forest guard died,” said a statement from Assam Police.
Assam is ruled by Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Himanta Biswa Sarma and Meghalaya is ruled by National People's Party’s (NPP) Conrad Sangma, an ally of the BJP.
An aggrieved Sangma sat for a meeting with traditional heads Rangbah Shnongs and religious leaders, members of Civil Society, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to discuss the firing incident. A government statement said “Assam Police and Assam Forest Guards entered Meghalaya and resorted to unprovoked firing”.
(with PTI inputs)