Assam to negotiate a border agreement with Arunachal Pradesh after concluding the pact with Meghalaya

SHILLONG: April 10 2022 (PTI Source)

The dispute between the two states dates back to 1873 when the British began the inner-line system, which established an imaginary boundary between northern Assam's plains and hilly regions.

The Assam government will begin talks with Arunachal Pradesh to resolve the border dispute issue next week, a week after signing an agreement with Meghalaya to address conflicting claims.

Last month, in New Delhi, Assam's and Meghalaya's chief ministers signed an agreement to address six of the twelve issues along their border.

"The Assam-Meghalaya issue has advanced nicely," Assam's Himanta Biswa Sarma stated on Wednesday. "Now, we're working to settle our border dispute with Arunachal Pradesh."

"We're going to discuss the topic in Guwahati on April 18, 2018, with Arunachal Pradesh's governor Pema Khandu. We are attempting to narrow the areas of disagreement between us substantially," he stated.

Assam shares an 804-kilometre border with Arunachal Pradesh. Although there was no dispute at first, allegations of residents of one state encroaching on land across the border have caused friction and violence over time. A lawsuit regarding the issue has been pending in India's Supreme Court since 1989.

In January, after both states' leaders had been urged to resolve their border dispute through negotiations outside the court by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, they announced plans to do so. In January, both governors met and began preliminary discussions on resolving the decades-old conflict.

The border dispute between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh dates back to 1873 when the British began the inner-line regulation, which created an illusory line between the plains and hilly areas north of Assam.

Assam was formed in the wake of British colonial rule in India, and the region known as Assam was carved out. Assam became a province of independent India in 1947, and the North-East Frontier Agency was created within its borders. The term "Assam" originated from Sanskrit words meaning "sunrise" or "east," although it has also been suggested that it comes from the local name for the Assam tea plant.

The inner-line system was put in place to protect British commercial interests in the region and shield residents of Assam from encroachment by people from neighbouring states. The system established an artificial boundary between the plains and hilly regions north of Assam, which created tensions between the two areas.

When India gained independence from Britain in 1947, the inner-line system was abolished, and the boundary between Assam and the North-East Frontier Agency was redrawn. However, the new boundary was not clearly demarcated, and this led to confusion and conflict over the years.

The dispute between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh first came to a head in the 1960s, when the Arunachal Pradesh government began constructing a road that ran through what Assam considered its territory. The Assam government responded by constructing its road in the same area.

Both states have been locked in a border dispute ever since. In 1989, the Assam government filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of India, seeking to have the boundary between the two states redrawn.

The case has been pending in the court for almost three decades, and no progress has been made in resolving the dispute. In January 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh urged the two states to resolve their border dispute through negotiations, and the governors of both states met in January to begin preliminary discussions on the issue.

The Assam government has said that it is committed to resolving the border dispute with Arunachal Pradesh and that it is hopeful that a resolution can be reached soon.

In 1972, Arunachal Pradesh was renamed and granted Union Territory status; it became a full-fledged state in 1987. However, before it received its current boundaries, a commission led by former Assam chief minister Gopinath Bordoloi transferred approximately 3650 sq kilometres of territory from NEFA to Assam.

The issue of the validity of this transfer has caused a dispute between Arunachal Pradesh and New Delhi. The refusal by Arunachal Pradesh to accept it is at the heart of the problem.

The North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA), sometimes known as the North-East Frontier Tracts, was created in 1947 out of Assam's western frontier region. It was subsequently incorporated into Assam's administrative jurisdiction.