GUWAHATI: Taking forward the chief minister-level talks between the two neighbouring states, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma will visit Langpih in Meghalaya’s West Khasi Hills district along the disputed border on November 17, official sources here said on Thursday.

The joint visit will be a part of confidence-building exercise by the two chief ministers in a bid to resolve the boundary dispute between the two states.

the programme will, however, be finalized only after Assam chief minister comes back from his New Delhi trip. Both the chief ministers have agreed to go beyond the status quo to find a lasting solution to the issue.

The regional committee will also submit its report within a short span of time, sources informed.

Langpih is one of the 12 areas of dispute between Assam and Meghalaya. Langpih is one of the most underdeveloped villages bordering Kamrup district in Assam and West Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya. The two adjoining states have been claiming ownership of the village for more than half a century. 

What’s the Langpih dispute?

The British had annexed Assam in colonial times and the village was clubbed with Kamrup district for administrative purposes. But when India achieved independence, the village was tagged with West Garo Hills district (in present day Meghalaya) after it was carved out of Assam in 1972. 

The conflict over Langpih can be traced back to 1974, when the Meghalaya police forcefully evicted people from the Nepali community from their homes and grazing land. The Nepalis, who were mostly engaged in animal husbandry, approached Assam Police for justice. Assam Police went to the village to investigate the matter, which has remained escalated since. 

The Meghalaya government again claimed that Assam had encroached the village in 1979. In 1988, the matter reached the Parliament, where the Assam government alleged that Meghalaya wanted to create a new legislative constituency by taking over areas of Assam, including Lingpih.

The situation worsened after May 14, 2010, when clashes broke out between the Nepali, Khasi and Garo communities. Assam police fired upon the people, wherein four Khasi people were killed and at least 18 others were injured. 

In 2012, hundreds from the Khasi community sat on a hunger strike. Officials and police force were deployed to defuse the situation. But the Khasi people formed a human chain to prevent government officials from Assam from entering the area.

Other disputes along Assam-Meghalaya border

Assam and Meghalaya are embroiled in 12 other land disputes along the border. While Assam claims that Meghalaya has encroached upon 14 of its villages, Meghalaya claims that the official bungalow of the Assam chief minister at Koinadhara in Guwahati is built on land owned by Meghalaya. 

The Union government has tried to solve the dispute through several consultations but to no avail. Since 2016, the issue has been raised time and again in the Legislative Assembly of Assam, but both the states have so far failed to resolve it. 

In March 2020, the conflict escalated after Assam Police allegedly attempted to set up a border outpost in Umwali in Langpih, which created resentment among the local Khasi population. Following this, a BJP MLA from Meghalaya sought Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s help in October 2020 to resolve the border dispute. Deliberations on the matter are ongoing between the two states.

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