The Meghalaya tribal council Opposes the Border Agreement with Assam

SHILLONG: 20th April 2022 (PTI Source)

A Meghalayan tribe has joined the list of people and organizations opposed to the state government's agreement with Assam to resolve a half-century-old border dispute.

On March 29, the Assam and Meghalaya governments delivered the final draft of the agreement to split 36.79 square kilometres of the disputed land. In the first stage of talks, six of the 12 disputed areas were taken up by the two governments.

The dispute areas, according to KHADC, belong to private individuals and the Meghalaya government has no authority or right to give them over to Assam.

Any transfer must be authorized by the local council, as specified in Section 41 of the Right to Fair Compensation & Land Acquisition, and Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act of 2013.

“The Act states that before any handover, the government is obligated to obtain approval from the local council,” says Titosstarwell Chyne, Chief Executive member at the KHADC.

The Meghalaya Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) is one of three tribal councils established under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Each one of them acts as a kind of government in a certain region.

Aside from the KHADC, a number of traditional organizations, such as Hima (a Khasi state) and locals opposed to being labelled Assam, have threatened to take legal action if the Meghalaya government is unable to reconsider the boundary bargain.

The Meghalaya government has stated that the deal, which is based on a list of disputed areas given to Assam in 2011, cannot be reexamined. The agreement must still be approved by Parliament and the Assemblies of the two States involved before the border may be redrawn.

Residents of two border hamlets, Malchapara and Salbari, have vowed not to give up until their demands are met. They are concerned that if they are separated from Meghalaya, they will lose their indigenous rights.

Malchapara leader Jewash Sangma added, "We are consulting legal experts in the event that our voices of protest are ignored by the government.”

Since last week, groups of dissatisfied persons from various such border villages have been staging protests against the agreement.