Assam lifts travel restrictions to Meghalaya, six days after border violence

Tags: State News

Assam lifts travel restrictions to Meghalaya

The Assam government on 27 November 2022 lifted travel restrictions to Meghalaya, six days after being imposed in the aftermath of violence in a disputed area along the inter-state border.

An advisory was issued by the Assam Police, asking people to avoid travelling to the neighbouring state following the incident on 22 November. Barricades were erected in Jorabat near Guwahati and Cachar district, the two main entry points to Meghalaya.

Violence had broken out at Mukroh village (Meghalaya) near the disputed border between the two states in West Karbi Anglong district in the early hours of 22 November, after a truck allegedly laden with illegally felled timber was intercepted by forest guards from Assam. Five tribal villagers from Meghalaya and a forest guard from Assam were killed due to the clashes.

Border dispute between Assam and Meghalaya

During the British colonial rule, undivided Assam included Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Mizoram. In 1972, Meghalaya was formed as per the Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act of 1969.

Background to the Assam Mizoram Boundary Dispute 

  • Assam and Mizoram share a 164.6 km long boundary. 
  • Mizoram was a district of Assam known as Lushai Hills during the British time. In 1972, Meghalaya was formed as per the Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act of 1969.
  • The genesis of the dispute lies in the border demarcation during British times.
  • In 1875 a notification was issued that differentiated the Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar and in 1933 another notification was issued to demarcate the boundary between the Lushai Hills and Manipur.

Different Interpretation of Boundary 

  • According to Mizoram, the boundary shall be demarcated on the basis of 1875 notification, which is derived from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873.
  • However the Assam government believes that boundary shall be based on the 1933 notification ,
  • Mizoram says that when in 1933 the boundary was demarcated, Mizo society was not consulted. 

Attempt to resolve the Border Dispute 

  • To resolve the issue the chief ministers of Meghalaya Conrad Sangma and Himanta Biswa Sarma of Assam held several rounds of talks.
  • Twelve disputed areas were identified –  three areas contested between West Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya and Kamrup in Assam, two between RiBhoi in Meghalaya and Kamrup-Metro, and one between East Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya and Cachar in Assam.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 29 March 2022 between the two chief ministers in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The MoU stated that out of 36.79 sq km of the disputed area, Assam would get full control of 18.46 sq km and Meghalaya of 18.33 sq km. 
  • The second phase of talks was supposed to take place by the end of November, but has been disturbed due to the recent clash.

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