Assam-Meghalaya border
Meghalaya CM Conrad K Sangma and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma

Shillong: In their first official bilateral talks over the boundary row between the two states, Meghalaya CM Conrad K Sangma and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday decided to adopt a “pragmatic approach” to amicably resolve the longstanding issue.

At the meeting held at the Secretariat in capital Shillong, Sangma claimed 12 disputed places belonging to Meghalaya while Sarma justified with documents that those places belong to Assam.

After detailed discussion, both the governments decided to adopt a “pragmatic approach” and move from status quo to solution, according to an official source.

It was agreed to discuss all the 12 places one by one and review claims and if possible, both the chief ministers will visit all the places.

Further, Sarma invited his Meghalaya counterpart for second round of discussios at Guwahati on August six.

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Meghalaya was carved out of Assam and made a separate state in 1972.

Sarma later told media persons that it was a very fruitful discussion and “we came to a common understanding that we are firm and committed to resolve the border dispute”.

The chief minister also said that in view of contradictory claims, there would be more discussion and review so that a lasting solution can be reached.

Sangma thanked his Assam counterpart for his visit and to take forward the dialogue on the border dispute.

“As it is a long pending issue, it will take some more time as well as consultation for an amicable and accepted solution to both the states”, he added.

Besides the chief minister, the Assam government was represented by chief secretary Jishnu Barua, DGP Bhaskarjyoti Mahanta, principal secretary to the CM Samir Kumar Sinha and commissioner secretary (border protection development) GD Tripathi.

Sarma said, “We will go to all 12 Sites together to appreciate each other’s position and by the grace of God and blessings of the people of both states I am convinced that we will be able to resolve this.”

According to the Assam chief minister, the relevant merits and demerits of claims and counter claims will be discussed at the actual area of differences. “It may not be possible to resolve the entire dispute at a time, we keep on resolving this dispute one at a time,” he said.

Stating that Friday’s discussion was very fruitful, Sarma said, “We also come to a common understanding that we need to travel beyond the status quo maintained in the past but what we are going to say is that we are firm and we are committed to resolve this dispute.”

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Conrad on the other hand said he was grateful that the CM-level talks could resume again.

“It is in a way a historic meeting because the Assam CM has come himself to the secretariat and met us here which also sends a very positive message to the people of the state that Assam is very keen to see that we find a solution to this very long pending issue that we have,” he said.

The border issue has been pending for too long and people in the border area especially have been suffering a lot, he said, adding that people residing in those areas have not been able to stay in peace and have not been able to receive the development they deserve.

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