No visible administration within Assam’s territory, allege student organisations

Jirkinding (West Karbi Anglong): Alleging that there is no visible administrative set-up of the Assam government near the Meghalaya border, the Karbi Students Association (KSA) on Wednesday said that the silence of the state government has led to an external aggression by the neighboring state.

KSA president Samson Teron made the statement after being stopped by the administration when leading a delegation of 30 student groups and All Assam Tribal Sangha (AATS) to Mukroh in West Karbi Anglong where a deadly clash took place on November 22 last year which killed five and injured others.

The district administration prevented the delegation from proceeding towards Mukroh at Umkherme stating that the students visit to the disputed area might create a chaotic situation.

Border magistrate Alamgir Alam said: “I am directed not to allow anybody to visit the place of occurrence. It may lead to a law and order situation. We are not prepared for it. If you want to visit the area you need to take permission.”

Reacting to it, Teron said that the students does not understand why they were ‘not allowed to visit their own territory’. “The area is under Karbi Anglong and Assam. I do not understand the reason why they prevented us. The natural boundary is 12 km off this place,” Teron said. 

The student leader said that the original boundary is at Umtang River. The prevention by the police and administration, he said, indicates that the government has done nothing concrete to protect its people at the border areas.

“This border was demarcated by the Survey of India in 1951. So there is no question of further demarcation of the boundary. This is not a dispute of boundary but an external aggression. This aggression should be stopped,” the KSA leader said.

At the time when the road was constructed by the Meghalaya government under North Eastern Council (NEC) fund about four years ago, he said that KSA informed the state government and the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC).

“But they did not pay any heed. Earlier also, Meghalaya had constructed a bridge over the Umtang River. We had voiced against it. But the state government and the KAAC were silent on it and sidestepped our appeal. This has led to today’s situation,” he further said.

He alleged that original boundary pillars were removed by the people of Meghalaya and that the border was pushed back to at least five kilometres inside Assam. “Now these areas are under their possession and our government is doing nothing for it,” he added.

While Meghalaya is constructing roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and electricity connections inside Assam’s territory, he said that Assam government has been overlooking it and did nothing to develop its areas. 

The condition of the road from Donkamukam-Kheroni-Zirkinding- Umkherme is deplorable. The 81 km long road has not been attended for many year. The government scheme under which improvement of the road was supposed to be undertaken has not even started.

In addition, electricity connection, drinking water supply and other civic amenities in these areas are deprived. 

“This is not a road. It is a paddy field. I do not understand why the government has not improved road connectivity to the areas in the last few years. The people are lagging in poverty and underdevelopment. They must develop the areas. We are here to meet the border people. There should be roads and bridges, good communication network,” said Samijjal Kumar Bhattacharyya, chief advisor, All Assam Students Union (AASU), who also accompanied the delegation.

The AASU leader alleged that the construction work of a seven km long road from Umkhermi to Khatkhasla has been stopped by the Meghalaya government on the pretext of the border dispute.

“What is the status of the administration of the state government in its own territory,” Bhattacharyya questioned.

“We demand the state government to take up a time-bound action plan for improving the road connectivity in border areas in entire northeastern states,” Bhattacharyya said.

People at border, he said, lives in constant fear. “This fear has to be removed. There should be a good administrative set-up at the border. The government should take a proactive role in it,” Bhattacharyya said. 

All Assam Tribal Sangha (AATS) secretary general Aditya Khakhlary said, “It has been noticed that our indigenous communities have been affected in all crises due to border row with neighbouring states. It is a great concern for us. We demand protection of our border and our people.”

Khakhlary also said there should be proper infrastructure development at the border to protect our indigenous communities. 

The student leader blamed the state government for the lack of development in border areas due to which neighbouring states have grabbed land in these places and developed infrastructures like roads, electricity and communication.

More than 80 representatives of AASU, KSA, AATS, all Tiwa Students Union (ATSU), All Gorkha Students Union (AGSU), All Bodo Students Union (ABSU), All Dimasa Students Union (ADSU), All Assam Nath Yogi Students Union (AANYSU), All Moran Students Union (AMSU), All Sonowaal Kachari Students Union (ASKSU), All Tai Ahom Yuba Chatra parishad (ATAYCP), All Hajong Students Union (AHSU) were part of the delegation.

Leaders later addressed a public rally in Umkherme, where they protested the action of the state administration for not allowing them to visit the state’s territory.

The visit was ahead of the visit of chief ministers of Assam and Meghalaya to the disputed border under the second phase of settlement by June end.

Under the second phase, talks are expected to settle the boundary dispute in six areas of differences- Langpih, Khanduly, Block I and Block II.

“The original boundary line “Saisima” is now far from the present boundary as all boundary pillars have been shifted by the people from Meghalaya as the Assam government has no control over the border areas,” said Arjun Cjhetry, president, All Gorkha Students Union (AGSU).

He said that the boundary between the two states was demarcated in 1951. “But the government is now making it a political issue. If the government fails to protect our border, the public should have the right to protest,” Chetry said.

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Notably, a joint meeting of 42 Karbi groups on September 8, 2022, resolved that the claim to transfer certain areas of West Karbi Anglong to Meghalaya is an unnecessary issue, as all matters concerning the boundary between the United Khasi-Jaintia Hills district and the Mikir Hills Autonomous district (now Karbi Anglong) had been resolved by mutual consent based on the report of the Commission constituted by notification No TAD/R/31/50 on October 3, 1950, when the boundaries of the latter (Mikir Hills) were notified by notification No TAD/R/31/50/151 on April 13, 1951.

The students said that there “was and is” no ‘border dispute’ between Assam’s West Karbi Anglong and Meghalaya’s Jaintia Hills and Ri Bhoi districts. The dispute is an invented one raised by some vested interest groups of people to destabilise the prevailing peace and tranquillity along the border, they observed.

The convention also resolved that the KAAC should not allow the inclusion of West Karbi Anglong as part of the give-and-take policy. 

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