GUWAHATI: A delegation of five student organisations of the state, which visited the Assam-Meghalaya border on February 6 and 8, urged both Assam and Meghalaya not to send 70 per cent of villagers in the disputed Boklapara sector forcefully to Meghalaya as part of an agreement between two state governments over dividing the land along the inter-state boundary.

A high-level delegation of All Assam Students Union (AASU), Garo Students Union- Assam State Zone (GSU-ASZ), All Bodo Students Union (ABSU), All Rabha Students Union (ARSU), All Assam Gorkha Students Union (AAGSU) took stock of the situation at Boklapara, one of the disputed areas under West Guwahati constituency in Kamrup district on February 8.

“There are 104 Bodo and Rabha families in the village. 74 of them opt to stay with Assam while 40 families prefer to merge with Meghalaya,” ARSU president Nripen Khanda said.

“They mainly cited language factor as the reason for their desire to stay with Assam. They are not well versed in Garo or Khasi languages spoken in Meghalaya. They feel that it will be a big problem if they become a part of Meghalaya,” AASU president Dipanka Kumar Nath said.

Notably, the people of this village have been enjoying dual voting rights and also availing benefits from the state government.

During their visit, the student delegation interacted with the people of Athiabari, Chutia Bazar, Hahim, Salbari, Malchapara, Gohanimara, Amagaon. 

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“All these villages lie in the Hahim and Gizang Sectors under Kamrup Rural district. These areas were mostly inhabited by the Garo tribal communities. The people are strongly in favour of merging their areas with Meghalaya,” said chief adviser of GSU-ASZ Dr Tharsush K Sangma.

“However, Garos living in Hahim, Chutiabazar, Salbari and Malchapara villages expressed their willingness to remain in Assam,” Dr Sangma said. 

“The Garo people are apprehensive of the fact that they would lose their rights on land and the right to be contested in the District Autonomous Council elections. Therefore, they wanted that their villages remain within Assam,” Dr Sangma also said.

On February 8, the delegation visited the tribal inhabited villages lying under Boklapara of West Guwahati & Khanapara-Pillangkata Sectors and physically inspected the villages from both sides of the two states. 

“We were received with mixed reactions from the people living in the border areas. The Garos however, preferred to remain with the state of Meghalaya. As few of the Garo villages lying all along the borders have their strong voices in favour of merging with the state of Meghalaya, the GSU leaders too have to yield to their strong decision,” Dr Sangma added.

“We have visited four sectors of the inter-state boundary. But the records given to us by the state government are not found genuine in some places,” AAGSU president Arjun Chetry said.

The delegation comprised of AASU chief advisor Dr Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharyya, president Dipanka Kumar Nath, general secretary Sankor Jyoti Baruah, ABSU president Dipen Boro, AAGSU president Arjun Chetry, ARSU president Nripen Khanda, GSU-ASZ chief advisor Dr Tharsush K Sangma and president Foldin Marak.

The delegation is likely to visit the Pillingkata-Khanapara sector in the next week before filing their report to the Assam government.

During a discussion with chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on January 18, the student leaders wanted to visit the disputed border and interact with the people before they give their consent to the proposed agreement between the two states.

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