Assam-Meghalaya border row: Gorkhas opt to stay with Assam

Boko: More than 10,000 Gorkha families living in the villages along the Assam-Meghalaya border opted to stay with Assam as the second phase of chief minister-level talks between Himanta Biswa Sarma and Conrad Sangma is underway to settle the dispute in six areas of differences.

While welcoming the steps taken by both the chief ministers to resolve the five-decade-long border dispute between the two states, the Assam Gorkha Sanmilan (AGS) on Saturday said the Gorkha people living in border areas of Lumpi in Kamrup district and Umlapher in West Karbi Anglong district wanted to stay with Assam.

Lumpi borders Assam’s Kamrup and Meghalaya’s West Khasi hill district, while Block I and Block II of West Karbi Anglong borders Meghalaya’s Ri-Bhoi and West Jaintia hills districts.

A delegation of AGS led by its president Krishna Bhujel and chief general secretary Lakshmi Sedai called on the Assam border affairs minister Atul Bora and submitted a memorandum in this regard.

“Since independence, our people have been living in these border villages. We have many grievances, but we want to stay with Assam. We don’t want to become part of Meghalaya,” AGS Kamrup district president Arjun Chetry said.

“Time and again, we had to face threats from some miscreants of Meghalaya. The miscreants also attacked us many times. But we did not leave this piece of land. We have always been living here and will continue to do so. We will not a single inch of land to Meghalaya,” Chetry said.

“Our people have been staying in Lumpi for about 100 years now. We have been protecting the border from the aggression of neighbouring states. They failed to encroach on our land only because of us,” Chetry also said.

“Gorkhas have been living in Lumpi since the 19th century. Our forefathers had obtained grazing permits from the British. We have 600 families (3,000 population) in Lumpi. But there is only a Khasi-dominated village – Moulan Village. This village is also almost under the Meghalaya administration. But all other villages in Lower Lumpi and Upper Lumpi are dominated by Gorkha people,” he said.

“In West Karbi Anglong also, we have more than 7,000 people in 12 villages along the border. Habang, Umpalher, Mausaladyang, Umwang, Umru-2, Umsarang, Phlang, Pabang, Kartik Gairi, 28th Mile, Sabire, Jatalang, Umat, Lang Er Dang- all these villages are dominated by Gorkha people,” AGS chief general secretary Lakshmi Sedai said, adding that the border between Assam and Meghalaya was settled in 1951 after the creation of United Mikir Hills District.

“We also demanded the Assam government to survey the border areas before deciding on anything,” he added

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