Injured Assam villagers Shabin G. Sangma and Chanchan marak (left to right)

Boko: Despite claims by the Assam and Meghalaya governments that border disputes between the two states have been handled effectively and after taking local people into consideration, it seems the situation in the disputed region remains far from ideal. 

Last year, the two governments claimed to have settled six of the 12 areas under dispute. The six areas taken up first for the border resolution included Tarabari, Gizang, Hahim, Boklapara, Khanapara-Pilangkata and Ratacherra. The areas fall under the Kamrup, Kamrup (Metropolitan) and Cachar districts of Assam and the West Khasi Hills, Ri Bhoi and East Jaintia Hills districts of Meghalaya.

Despite claims, the regions have continued to witness protests and violence. In the latest incident, a clash between two groups on March 14 in Malchapara in Gizang, one of the disputed areas left three people injured.

During the scuffle, three Assam residents: Shabin G. Sangma (65), Hakier Sangma (35), and Chanchan Marak (20), suffered severe injuries. The situation was later brought under control with the intervention of Boko police, after which an FIR was lodged at the Boko police station by the three injured persons.

Based on the FIR, a police team arrested two persons on Wednesday in connection with the incident. Later, the duo was sent to judicial custody.

According to investigation officer Juli Das, 108 families live in the Malchapara village, of which forty families support Assam and want to be part of the state while the rest support Meghalaya. This results in frequent clashes between the two factions, Das added. 

“Our investigation is going on and over thirty persons are yet to be apprehended. Sixtser Sangma and Chawan Marak have already been arrested and we will arrest the rest very soon,” added SI Juli Das.

“According to the FIR, attackers came with sharp weapons and attacked them,” she said.

Meanwhile, the village headman Epparson Sangma requested the Assam government for a permanent settlement in the disputed area so that people can live peacefully in Assam.

“I was also attacked by some of the Meghalaya supporters on February 1 when I took part in a village general meeting. So I pray to the Assam government to kindly settle the border issue as soon as possible,” claimed Epparson Sangma.

Hakier Sangma, who was injured in the clash, said, “On Tuesday evening around 20 to 30 people threatened us and then attacked us with sharp weapons. Later we came to know that they were drunk and came from a weekly market in Hahim.”

Starson Marak, 83, said he too was a victim of the clashes. “I was targeted for supporting Assam in one of the public meetings. I was attacked by some young people who support Meghalaya and later I had to pay Rs 500 as a fine for supporting Assam,” Marak said.

“My parents decided to live in Assam and now I will live in Assam until my death,” he added.

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