Himanta greets people of Meghlaya, Manipur, Tripura on statehood day
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

Silchar (Assam): Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma Tuesday said that he does not approve of police firing on civilians, which should be resorted to only against terrorists and criminals.

The firing by the Assam police and state forest guards at Mukroh in a disputed area of the Assam-Meghalaya border which claimed six lives a week ago will, however, have no impact on the ”broader landscape of relations” between the two states, Sarma told a press conference here.

Negotiations are on between the two northeastern states and any boundary adjustment will happen through the Committee formed for the purpose by them, he said.

“Taking the life of civilians is not acceptable … Police should use its weapons against terrorists and criminals and not against civilians. I do not approve of the firing,” he said after presiding over a cabinet meeting.

Iterating that the state police should not have fired on civilians at Mukroh, he said there could have been other ways to prevent the movement of trucks laden with alleged illegal timber.

The firing at Mukroh on November 22 by Assam police and forest guards took place after such a truck was intercepted by them. The violence had claimed the lives of five civilians of Meghalaya and a forest protection personnel of Assam.

Referring to the incident, Sarma, who was speaking after chairing a cabinet meeting, said there is a constitutional boundary between the states.

“Maps are available and I am sure that the Meghalaya government will not do anything unconstitutional within Assam … If it does something like setting up a police station in Assam territory it will have no legal validity and the (Gauhati) High Court will quash all cases that come up for hearing as the police stations will be in another state,” he said.
”We have had discussions … The status quo will be maintained until the dispute is resolved”, the chief minister said.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said during the day that the process for the second round of talks between the two states for resolving the border dispute has become “slightly complicated” after the Mukroh violence.

“We may not be able to go forward (with the talks) immediately. It could get delayed,” the Meghalaya chief minister said in Shillong.

The Meghalaya cabinet Tuesday approved a proposal to set up police outposts at seven locations, including at Mukroh, along the state’s boundary with Assam.
The situation at the inter-state border has returned to normal and vehicles are moving freely with the state governments committed to securing the lives of their people, Sarma said.

Meghalaya did not stop the plying of vehicles. Assam government had issued an advisory to prevent any unforeseen incident, he added.

The two states have identified 12 disputed areas along the interstate border. The first round of discussions on border disputes was held in July 2021 and both states signed an MoU in March this year to resolve differences in six areas. Mukroh village is in the disputed Block-I area along the interstate boundary.

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