"A boundary agreement may be amended or reviewed," says a Senior Advocate in Meghalaya

SHILLONG: 12th April 2022 (PTI Source)

VGK Kynta, a seasoned advocate and constitutional expert, on Sunday stated that the MoU between Assam and Meghalaya governments on the interstate boundary dispute cannot be changed or reviewed and that a referendum should be conducted in the impacted regions.

"If the two governments sign the MoU, it will be a breach of the Covenants signed by way of an instrument of accessions and agreement annexed by the Chiefs of the 25 Khasi States, albeit by force," he said.

“I demand a referendum in the areas that have been affected,” he stated.

Kynta has worked for organizations such as the Member of the State Security Commission, a member of the Advisory Board under Meghalaya's Preventive Detention Act, and Vice Chairman of the Meghalaya State Law Commission.

“I can't comprehend why the Chief Ministers of Assam and Meghalaya are rushing to sign the (MoU) so quickly,” said Kynta. “What is the hidden truth behind these activities, and what kind of quid pro quo do they have between them? Is there more to it than meets the eye?” her eyebrows arched in astonishment.

He then went on to emphasize that unlike Assam's territory, the border regions of Meghalaya are Raid Lands or Community Lands, and that the government of Meghalaya is not the owner. These Raid Lands are situated within the Syiemship of Mylliem, Khyrim, or Nongspung, according to him. Furthermore, he stated that parts of Hima Nongmynsaw extended into Assam districts despite the fact that they do not exist today.

“Even Mylliem and Khyrim territories used to be deep inside current-day Assam territory,” said Kynta. “The issue is whether the Meghalaya government can give up such land in favour of Assam without acquiring it directly. The answer is a definitive no.”

“I don't think the agreement (MoU) can't be reviewed or changed,” he said. “I am not in agreement with Assam's CM when she says that what has been completed is done. It's absurd,” he continued.

Before the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding, the state government should recall the agreement and obtain the consent of Hima/Syiemship and its members, he said.

KSU (Khasi Students' Union) also requested the two governments not to pursue the next phase of talks until the stakeholders' concerns and objections about the MoU signed for the first six areas of disagreement have been addressed.

“How can we move ahead with future talks when the border agreement is being protested? The MoU has provoked a great deal of anger among the people,” Lambokstarwell Marngar, KSU president, added.

The leader said that the two nations must do everything possible to guarantee no one is dissatisfied in their attempts to resolve a long-standing problem.

“We had always offered our constructive ideas to the government. It must hear the voices of the people and respect their feelings,” Marngar added.

The KSU also praised the federal government's efforts to settle the territorial dispute.

The tribal elders also said that the KSU had urged the government to include everyone, including Himas, Raids, district councils, land owners, and people living in border villages, before signing a contract.

“It is critical to make sure everyone is on the same page to avoid any conflict or dissatisfaction, and it was decided. However, the government has proceeded to sign the memorandum of understanding without consulting key stakeholders,” Marngar bewailed.

He claims that the Hima, Raid, and private property owners' opposition to the MoU was not a shock.

Marngar also thinks the government should reconsider the boundary agreement in those places where residents are unhappy.