Assam-Meghalaya Border Dispute

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    • The killing of six people in Assam police firing comes ahead of the second phase of talks between the two states to resolve their boundary dispute, and there are concerns its shadow will loom large over the negotiations.

    Background 

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    • Colonial Era: During the British rule, undivided Assam included present-day Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Mizoram
      • Meghalaya was carved out in 1972.
      • Its boundaries were demarcated as per the Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act of 1969, but has held a different interpretation of the border since.
    • In 2011, the Meghalaya government had identified 12 areas of difference with Assam, spread over approximately 2,700 sq km.
    • Gopinath Bordoloi committee: Some of these disputes stem from recommendations made by a 1951 committee headed by then Assam chief minister Gopinath Bordoloi.
      • It recommended that Blocks I and II of Jaintia Hills (Meghalaya) be transferred to the Mikir Hill (Karbi Anglong) district of Assam, besides some areas from Meghalaya’s Garo Hills to Goalpara district of Assam.
        • The 1969 Act is based on these recommendations which Meghalaya rejects claiming these areas originally belong to the Khasi–Jaintia Hills. 
        • Assam says Meghalaya does not have the requisite documents to prove these areas historically belonged to Meghalaya.

    What is the border dispute?

    • Assam and Meghalaya have a longstanding dispute in 12 stretches of their 884-km shared border.
      • The two states had signed a pact recently resolving the dispute in six out of 12 areas.
    • Both states have recently decided to form regional committees. The second round of discussions for the remaining six phases was to commence by the end of this month. 
    • Disputed areas for resolution identified in the first phase are:
      • Three areas contested between West Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya and Kamrup in Assam.
      • Two between RiBhoi in Meghalaya and Kamrup-Metro.
      • One between East Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya and Cachar in Assam.
    • Both sides submitted reports based on five mutually agreed principles
      • Historical perspective
      • Ethnicity of local population
      • Contiguity with boundary
      • Peoples’ will 
      • Administrative convenience. 

    What are the 12 locations?

    • Upper Tarabari, Gazang reserve forest, Hahim, Langpih, Borduar, Boklapara, Nongwah, Matamur, Khanapara-Pilangkata, Deshdemoreah Block I and Block II, Khanduli and Retacherra.

    Way Forward

    • The Assam-Meghalaya pact was seen as a major achievement: As Assam’s border disputes with other states in the Northeast have remained unresolved despite multiple rounds of talks. 
      • Now, the firing threatens to derail the upcoming talks.  

    Inter-state border disputes in India

    • Karnataka-Maharashtra
      • The dispute is over the Belgaum district.
      • The area came under Karnataka in 1956 when states were reorganized and till then it was under the Bombay presidency.
    • Assam-Mizoram
      • The border dispute between Assam and Mizoram is a legacy of two British-era notifications of 1875 and 1933.
      • The 1875 notification differentiated Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar and the other demarcated boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur.
      • Assam, on the other hand, wants the boundary demarcated in 1986 (based on the 1933 notification).
    • Haryana-Himachal Pradesh
      • The Parwanoo region has had the spotlight over the border dispute between the two states. 
      • It is next to the Panchkula district of Haryana and the state has claimed parts of the land in Himachal Pradesh as its own.
    • Himachal Pradesh-Ladakh 
      • Himachal and Ladakh lay claim to Sarchu, an area on the route between Leh and Manali. 
      • Sarchu is in between Himachal’s Lahul and Spiti district and Leh district in Ladakh.
    • Arunachal Pradesh-Assam 
      • Arunachal’s grievance is that the re-organisation of North Eastern states unilaterally transferred several forested tracts in the plains that had traditionally belonged to hill tribal chiefs and communities to Assam.

    Source: IE