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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Dog In The Manger

By The Editor

Congress Member of Parliament (MP) from Assam Gaurav Googoi commenting on border issue between Meghalaya and Assam on Tuesday January 17 belied his stubbornness when he termed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between two states as “mere photo-op”. He also noted that in spite of the fact that governments of both states are part of NEDA (North East Democratic Alliance) yet they have failed miserably. Shillong Lok Sabha MP, Vincent H. Pala, added fuel to the fire by saying that the boundary issue involves culture, history and geography which therefore needed more attention involving not only politicians especially chief minister but most importantly dollois, syiems, headmen and nokmas. Everybody is fully aware of the fact that border issue is not recent but right from the time of statehood itself which was unintentionally not taken care of due to complacency. Nevertheless, it is not correct and proper to point fingers now at our leaders of the past who had struggled ceaselessly and sacrificed their lives and careers for achievement of Meghalaya following the spirit of non-violence as preached and practiced by Mahatma Gandhi himself. We really owe them deep sense of gratitude and therefore we ought to march ahead with pride and confidence while at the same time we too should contribute in whatever ways and means we can for welfare of future generations.

Meghalaya was once part of composite state of Assam and after its creation conflicts arose which could not be easily solved in spite of several attempts by various governments. According to the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971, boundary of Meghalaya was based on 1951 notification which assigned Blocks I and II of the then United Khasi and Jaintia Hills (UK&J Hills) district to the erstwhile United Mikir and North Cacher Hills (UM & NC Hills) district which was formed after also taking portions of other adjacent districts of Assam. Subsequently, UM & NC Hills district was bifurcated into Karbi Anglong district and North Cachar Hills district (currently Dima Hasao district). It should be noted that boundary dispute is not cnfiend only to Meghalaya and Assam but also to Assam and Nagaland, Assam and Mizoram, and Assam and Arunachal Pradesh since these states were also once part of the composite state of Assam or under Assam’s administration like Arunachal Pradesh which was earlier known as North East Frontier Agency (NEFA).

There were high hopes when governments on both sides belonged to the same Congress party for number of years and even during short tenure in early 2000s when Evantius Kek Mawlong of the regional United Democratic Party (UDP) was chief minister of Meghalaya and Prafulla Kumar Mahanta of the regional Assam Gana Parishad (AGP) was Chief Minister of Assam. After unsuccessful attempts by different political parties for so long why should Congress grudge now if not for trying to gain political mileage. Meanwhile, Meghalaya High Court has imposed in-term stay till next hearing on February 6 in respect of 6 of 12 disputed areas.

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