Shillong: The Hynñiewtrep Youths Council (HYC) on Tuesday welcomed the Meghalaya government’s decision to constitute the three regional committees for the Assam-Meghalaya border talks.
HYC president Robertjune Kharjahrin said that their only fear was that the government does not end up making the mistake of the past year again. He said that the Himas (traditional heads) “have been left with a scar after they were left out in the first phase”.
“The Himas will feel a sort of injustice has been done by the state government because when they settled Khanapara -Pilangkata area, the Autonomous District Council wasn’t consulted and this time, in the second phase, they have been included,” said Kharjahrin.
“Thankful that the government is showing its seriousness to resolve the long pending issue,” the HYC president said.
Kharjahrin said that they are also concerned about how the second phase will be settled. Referring to the Chief Minister’s recent response in the Assembly that the government will not go beyond the report submitted by the state government in 2011. Villages included in the 2011 report or map will be discussed but those villages which have not been listed will be left out.
According to Kharjahrin, in their research, the villages claimed in the 2011 report now vary. “Recently we found that in Block 1 and 2 of Ri Bhoi district, the areas of differences under Block 1 is nearly 537.54 sq Km and under Block 2 approximately 1,000 sq km. The number of villages claimed by Meghalaya in 2011 is 13 villages whereas now just under Block 1 itself there are 36 villages,” HYC president said.
He added that in Langpih, West Khasi Hills District, 90 plus villages are claimed by Meghalaya but in 2011 there are only 53 villages claimed and the total area is 298.07 sq km.
“What if there are more villages not listed in 2011? We had written to the state government that terms of reference should be slightly modified, to include words like ‘in case the regional committee finds that there are other villages not listed, those villages should also be discussed,” mentioned Kharjahrin.
Another concern is that the govt might miss out on the five principles – historical facts, ethnicity of the local population, administrative convenience, contiguity and will of the people.
The HYC president felt that for the first phase only the will of the people was considered and other principles were not taken into consideration.
“If the voice of tenants or people who are illegally settling in someone else land is heard then Meghalaya is on the losing side especially when we talk about Langpih,” stated Kharjahrin.
Concerning the 45-day deadline, Kharjahrin said that they would love to see the dispute settled once and for all and HYC will extend their help and support to the government.
“This issue is a decade old issue, 45 days is tough but if they work hard then it can be done because it is not that the committee has to start from scratch but are already midway,” stated HYC president.
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