The residents of Baikam, in the Ratacherra sector of East Jaiñtia Hills, were shocked to discover that their land was assigned to Assam under the terms of Phase 1 of the border negotiations between Meghalaya and the neighbouring state.
Today, accompanied by leaders from a pressure group, village elders met Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui, who is also a member of the regional committee that is dealing with disputed areas in Jaiñtia Hills.
The agreement to conclude Phase 1 was signed at the end of March. Although the Meghalaya government has defended it strenuously, it has come in for much criticism from various quarters, least of all many of the residents of border areas that were assigned to Assam even though the locals would rather have become part of Meghalaya.
Speaking to reporters, the Hynñiewtrep Youths Council said that the name of this village did not appear in the agreement signed between Meghalaya and Assam in March.
“It was only after the MoU (memorandum of understanding) was signed and during the survey conducted by the officers of Meghalaya and Assam that the residents learned that their village was sidelined in the MoU,” Roykupar Synrem said.
He added that it was perhaps due to the ignorance of the regional committee that Baikam was ignored. Residents claim not to have been consulted at all or to have had any information of the various boundary meetings convened before the deal was signed.
Rymbui reportedly assured the delegation that he will look into the matter. However, prospects seem to be grim, as the Meghalaya government has staunchly maintained in the past that the border deal cannot be revisited.
The villagers and HYC will now meet the Jaiñtia Hills regional committee chairperson, Sniawbhalang Dhar, as well as submit a letter to the Chief Minister and Deputy CM calling on them to respect the sentiments of the residents, who want to be with Meghalaya rather than the “alien” Assam.