Any act to alter Assam-Meghalaya boundary requires Parliament nod: Garo villagers tell Assam CM

GUWAHATI: People of seven Garo villages living along the inter-state boundary between Assam and Meghalaya refused to accept any solution to be taken on border row between two neighbouring states saying that any act or attempt to alter the boundary needs the intervention of the Parliament.

As many as 100 people from seven Garo villages — Garo Mallangkona village of Salbari, Huhuapara, Goisanimara, Amagaon, and other adjoining villages Upper Tarabari, Tangkula and Balsuk have signed in the memorandum.

“Parliament had passed the Assam Re-organisation (Meghalaya) Act 1969 and the Northeastern Areas Re-organisation Act 1971 to pave the way for the formation of Meghalaya within the state of Assam. The boundaries of Assam and Meghalaya had been well defined under subsection (i) and (ii) of Section 3 (i) of the Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act 1969. Therefore any act or attempt to alter the boundary of the two states will require the intervention of the Parliament once more as per provision of Article 3 of the Constitution of India,” as many as 100 Garo people living in seven border villages said in a memorandum to Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma here.

As many as 4.5 lakh Garo people living in various villages of Assam’s Kamrup and Goalpara districts opted to stay with the Assam side.

Garos are the second largest tribal community of the state without recognition from the government as the Sixth Schedule community.

Even then they preferred to stay with Assam as the regional committees set up by the Assam government on border row are likely to submit their report by the month-end.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Meghalaya counterpart are continuing their talks to settle the border conflict in six areas out of 12 areas of contention.

“Neither the leaders of Assam nor the leaders of Meghalaya will ever agree to part an inch of their boundaries as already expressed by the political leaders of the two states,” the villagers said in the memorandum.

“Even the Boundary Commission headed by Justice YV Chandrachud could not solve in the inter-state boundary so far,” they said and added that the maintenance of status quo will serve the purpose of the border areas in the long run.

“Development of the border areas in all spheres of life will benefit the state and it will go a long way in winning the hearts and minds of the people residing in the border areas who are still fence-sitters,” they said.

They said the solution to the boundary dispute should be found based on the provisions of the Constitution of India since the people residing on both sides of the border are the rightful citizens of the country and their cooperation and peaceful co-existence should be the main guiding principles.

 “Majority of Garo people residing along the border have unanimously decided to stay in Assam with the sole purpose of maintaining the age-old continuity, social security and tranquillity with the people of Assam which are the quintessential prerequisites for the all-round socio-economic development of the people of the state,” they said in the memorandum.

“It is our humble opinion that any attempt to change the status quo will greatly jeopardise the peaceful co-existence amongst the people of the state which we have been maintaining since the time immemorial,” they said.

“We have registered out land documents and obtained permanent land pattas from the Assam government long before the creation of Meghalaya from the erstwhile composite state of Asam This is possible because the revenue department of Assam government had undertaken cadastral survey throughout the state,” they said.

“Based on our permanent land pattas, we are paying out land revenue to Assam government annually. The people of Meghalaya on the other side of the border can’t register their land documents in the Autonomous District Councils of Khasi Hills and Jayantia Hills except for Garo Hills Autonomous District Council due to the absence of a cadastral survey which makes it difficult for people to maintain the land records. The permanent residents of Assam had also power line connection for the domestic and industrial purposes from the Assam government along before the Meghalaya government extend power lines to its citizens in the border areas,” they also said. 

“In addition to electricity, we are also getting a regular supply of essential commodities from Assam government through fair price shops distributed monthly under the National Food Security Act 2013,” they said.

The villagers urged the chief minister to undertake massive infrastructure development activities on the border to catch up with other areas of the state.

The villagers also advocated for the setting up of a satellite Autonomous Council for the Garos living in Kamrup, Goalpara, Nagaon, Karbi Anglong abd Barak Valley districts to protect their identity and culture.

and provide autonomy in the matter of framing laws on land, forests, public health, agriculture. Both Garos and Rabhas are residing side by side in Goalpara and Kamrup district for ages. 

“If RHAC and GAC will be are included in the Sixth Schedule, we will enjoy constitutional rights privileges granted to autonomous councils,” they said in the memorandum.

“The Garos deserve an autonomous council side by side of Rabhas. While the Garos are a matrilineal society, the Rabhas are a patrilinear society. Hence both Garos and Rabhas must co-operate with each other and work together to achieve their social and political objectives and aspirations as good neighbourly brothers and promote peaceful co-existence in the interest of the people of the state for all-round socio-economic developments, they added.

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