Adopting a resolution to move forward towards a solution rather than merely maintaining a status quo, Assam and Meghalaya have decided to go beyond, by adopting a give-and-take policy for resolving the age-old boundary dispute between the two states.
The decision was taken at the border talks held between Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma at the main secretariat on Friday.
The second round of meeting between the two Chief Ministers will be held at Guwahati on August 6. Both CMs have also agreed to visit all the 12 areas of differences.
Addressing media persons after the meeting, Assam Chief Minister said the meeting with his Meghalaya counterpart was to discuss and find a way out to the long standing boundary dispute.
Himanta said Meghalaya had identified 12 places as disputed areas, and claims based on historical facts and other relevant datas have been placed on the table to justify that these were parts of Meghalaya, and Assam should give them back.
He, however, said Assam too had also been justified by placing documents to prove that these 12 areas of difference belonged to Assam and that the claims made by the state of Meghalaya may not be justifiable.
“In view of the contradictory stand, it is important to resolve this dispute in a spirit of give and take and considering the long standing friendship between the people of Assam and Meghalaya and also in order to keep the spirit of North East alive,” Himanta said.
According to him, the dispute cannot be resolved by raising claims and counter claims and that there is a need to adopt a pragmatic approach.
He informed that both the states have decided that all 12 areas of differences will be discussed one by one.
“Relevant merits and demerits of claims and counterclaims will be discussed and whenever in these places, we see that it is really easy to resolve those disputes. It may not be able to resolve the entire dispute at a time but definitely we can start from some point and one by one, we will keep on resolving these disputes,” he said.
“Today’s discussion was very fruitful as we appreciate each other’s position. We also come to a common understanding that now we need to travel beyond the status quo,” Himanta added.
He said earlier, whenever both the Chief Ministers met they used to give a joint statement that both the states have agreed to maintain the status quo in as far as the 12 areas of differences are concerned.
“However this time…what we are going to say to the people of Meghalaya and Assam is that we are firm and we are committed to resolve this dispute,” he said.
“I have invited Meghalaya CM to visit Guwahati on August 6, to start the second round of discussion, if we say that today is the first round of discussion,” he said.
“And if necessary, both the Chief Ministers will go to all the 12 sites to appreciate each other’s position and by the grace of God and by the blessings of both the states – people of Assam and people of Meghalaya – I am convinced that we will be able to resolve this dispute,” he added.
On the other hand, Meghalaya Chief Minister termed the meeting as historic.
“It is in a way a historic meeting because the Assam CM has come himself to the secretariat and met us here which also sends a very positive message to the people of the state that Assam is very keen to see that we find a solution to this very long pending issue that we have,” he said.
Conrad said people in the border area have been suffering a lot due to the long pending dispute as it always led to a lot of differences and violence also in the process and people have not been able to stay in peace and have not received the development they deserve.
“Therefore, somewhere we need to find a solution and finalize this long pending issue that is there. It is with this spirit and with this objective in mind that the Assam Chief Minister and myself have been meeting on multiple occasions and today was the first official discussion we had along with all our senior officials of both the states,” he said.
Conrad informed that the discussion was very positive as both the states have decided to no longer look at just the status quo but to find a solution to this very long pending issue.
Reiterating that it is not going to be very simple, the Meghalaya CM said, “one should not expect or think that we will be able to resolve issues that have been pending for so long in a matter of days. This will require consultations, it will require a lot of homework, it will require us to really meet the people also at the grassroot level and we also need to look at the current situation of the locations also.”
“So depending totally on history and documentation of the past may not be the best approach altogether. So we are going to look at factual datas but we need to also look at what other ways we could move forward to enable us to find a practical solution to the entire problem, which is going to be obviously amicable and acceptable to both sides in nature,” he further stated.