Opposition Raijor Dal (RD) and Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) on Thursday opposed the Assam government’s stand to settle border disputes with Meghalaya at six places by giving away almost half of the land claimed by both states.
RD president Akhil Gogoi in an open letter to the people of Assam questioned whether a state government can leave its lawful land in favour of another state, while AJP chief Lurinjyoti Gogoi called the decision “anti-people” as it neglected public opinion.
“The Constitution gives power only to the Parliament to alter the boundaries of a state. Without any endorsement by Parliament, how can the Assam government on its own give away land which is officially the state’s?” asked Gogoi, an MLA.
Stating that Assam has border disputes with Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram, he wondered whether the BJP-led government in the state will adopt the same strategy in every case.
“Assam has not encroached any land of the neighbouring states and in every case it is the other states who have encroached our land. And now, we are preparing ourselves to leave our own Constitutional land. How justified is it?” the RD president asked.
The AJP president termed the Assam government’s move to handover land to Meghalaya as a “one-sided ambitious decision” by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
“There is no harm in solving border disputes, but it should not be done by breaking Constitutional norms. Such a crucial decision cannot be taken without the consent of the people of the disputed places,” Lurinjyoti Gogoi said in a statement.
He claimed that the Himanta Sarma government is taking the decision to give away land to Meghalaya “in a hurry as per the political instructions of Union Home Minister Amit Shah”.
Earlier, Congress, the principal opposition party in the state, had called for more discussion on the matter, particularly in the Assembly.
The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti has also opposed the idea of Assam giving its “constitutional land” in favour of Meghalaya without consulting the people living in those areas.
The Assam cabinet had on Wednesday approved the recommendations of the regional committees formed by the two states to resolve border disputes in six areas in the first phase.
Three committees each were formed by the two state governments in August 2021 after two rounds of talks between Sarma and his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad Sangma to resolve the vexed issue in a phased manner.
As per the joint final set of recommendations given by the committees, out of 36.79 sq km of disputed area taken up for settlement in the first phase Assam will get full control over 18.51 sq km and Meghalaya on 18.28 sq km.
Sarma and Sangma are scheduled to meet the union home minister in the national capital on Thursday evening with the recommendations of the committees so that the Centre takes the matter forward.
On January 18, Sarma had held separate meetings with leaders of different political parties of the state and also with All Assam Students’ Union along with delegates of Rabha, Gorkha, Garo and Bodo students’ unions on the issue.
Out of a total 12 areas where there are disputes between the two states in different parts of the 884.9 km long inter-state border, six areas with relatively less critical differences have been taken up in the first phase.
The two chief ministers in a joint press conference on November 16 last year had announced that they are aiming to settle the longstanding dispute at six locations and would issue a “final statement” by the end of 2021.
Meghalaya was carved out of Assam as a separate state in 1972 and had challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971. (PTI)