Last month the Union Government, approved the agreement to resolve the disputed region on the Assam and Meghalaya Border.
As a constructive step toward boundary resolution, the state of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh collectively decided to form a district-level institutional committee to be headed by the cabinet ministers to resolve the boundary disagreement between these respective states Assam and Meghalaya.
The initiative finally set the ball rolling for the two states to finally take into account the boundary issue on the basis of the "Give-and-Take" or apparently "Fifty-Fifty" model. Thus, the states of Assam and Meghalaya agreed to initiate the closure of the decades-old border disagreement in six of its twelve exasperating regions.
Series of the boundary disputes with Assam?
- The state of Assam has boundary disputes with all the neighboring states of the north-eastern region, majorly because of the fact that all these states were carved out of Assam.
- The state of Nagaland received the statehood in the year 1963, followed by Meghalaya receiving the autonomous statehood in the year 1970 and finally being full-fledged statehood in the next two years in 1972.
- In the same year, in the year 1972 Arunachal Pradesh was carved out of Assam and followed by Mizoram in the year 1987, both were recognized as Union Territories.
- All states that were separated from Assam refused to recognize the "Constitutional Boundry", citing forceful typescript by the partisan administration of undivided Assam without consulting or taking into consideration the numerous tribal stakeholders of these regions.
- Moreover, it's crucial to mention here from the context of border disputes, these states claiming the disputed regions, for a long time were traditionally under the authority and control of the chieftains of tribal communities of the region well before Assam existed.
- They claimed these borders/boundaries were marked off, during Imperial British Raj or British Rule.
- However, these issues vary widely for each boundary state, and each state has a different story to tell. The Border dispute between Arunachal Pradesh with Assam is attached to the 1951 report released by the committee under the leadership of former Assams' first Chief Minister Gopinath Bordoloi.
Where lies the origin of the dispute?
- The total boundary line between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam stretches for around 804 km and has strenuous disagreements at 1200 different points.
- The disagreements surfaced in the 1970s and heightened in the 1990s with frequent situations flying off the handle along the border.
- Here once again, the British Raj has been blamed, dating back to 1873, the British Raj informally introduced and put in place the inner-line resolution faintly segregating the plains area of Balipara and from the Sadiya hills, which were later recognized as the North-East Frontier Tracts in 1915, and finally was know as North_east Frontier Agency (NEFA) in 1954.
- Soon three years after the 1951 report was released by the committee under the leadership of former Assams' first Chief Minister, the state of Arunachal Pradesh saw a stretch of 3648 sq. km from the segregated Plain region handed over to Darrang and Lakhimpur in Assam.
- Since its recognition in 1987, Arunachal Pradesh has been enjoying its independent statehood with an eye on China. Now the pique of the situation is those native people of Arunachal Pradesh, now residing in transferred regions of Assams' districts Darrang and Lakhimpur are unable to enjoy the statehood.
- Leaders in Arunachal Pradesh acknowledge the transfer was capricious without accomodating the consent of tribal chieftains and their people who had established rights over their lands.
Needless to say, the counterpart in Assam claims the demarcation of 1951 is completely constitutional and legal without its assize.
Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, Did They Ever Try to Settle Boundry Disputes?
- Efforts have been going on ever since, both states tried to mark off the boundary between Arunachal Pradesh between years 1971 and 1974, however, came to a standstill.
- To cut this standoff, in 1979 a tripartite committee was constituted, inclusive of the Central Govt. and respective State Govts. of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, outline the inter-state border, taking into account Survey of India maps.
- The committee precipitated, 489 km of the boundary located at the north of the Bramhaputra River marked-off as the inter-state boundary in 1984, however, Arunachal Pradesh confronted the recommendation and cited much of the land grabbing by Assam happened had happened in the year 1951.
- Assam rejected the claim and decided to take it to the Supreme Court in 1989, accusing Arunachal Pradesh of "Encroachment".
- The Supreme Court (SC) outfitted the local boundary commission in 2006, led by a retired judge.
- After 8 years, in Sept 2014, the report by the commission came in favor of Arunachal Pradesh and recommended, Arunachal Pradesh is entitled to get back the regions (to some extent) transferred in the year 1951, and the contrary to their recommendation asked both states to find the middle way to settle the dispute, as expected all efforts went to drain and this didn't work.
Requirement of the Interstate Boundary Commission
- Having considered multiple channels, and resolutions for these convoluted claims of both the parties, the utmost priority is to try to constitute one more commission, however independent of the interstate boundary.
- After exhaustive, thorough, and consultative study the commission is expected to deliver a solution that accommodates all the stakeholder's concerns.
- One possible solution could be the engagement of the central government on disputed lands after compensating both the states.
- Alternatively, an option of awarding land to one state and compensating the other or equally distributing the disputed land to both states taking into consideration the stakeholder's acknowledgment.
- What be the agreeable solution, has to work once and mutually accepted by both states, the court then can watch over the solution implemented, as a guardian and take serious note of its arbitrary acts.
The solution to border disagreement any time soon???
- The recent Assam-Meghalaya border agreement has heightened the hopes of the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh inter-state boundary disagreement being resolved. Moreover, the Centre encourages all the North-Eastern states to reach some agreement in relation to the inter-state boundary with neighboring states and end the disagreement once and all, before August 15, 2020, when India, the proud nation in Southasia celebrates its 75th year of Independence.
- Moreover, the general consciousness in the region has the belief that the seven sisters of the North-East are in a better situation to conclude their inter-state boundary disagreements and fast-track the resolution.
- Having witnessed the model being put into practice to resolve the boundary line dispute with Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and Assam nodded yes to forming a committee - at the district level and will be engaged in joint surveys in the disputed regions to find an applicable resolution to the decades-old inter-state boundary line issue.
- Considering the historical perspective, people's ethnicity, adjacency, and food culture, it is possible that people and the administration may find a tangible solution soon.
- So far the collective efforts of both the states came to the conclusion to form 12 committees accomodating the districts sharing the boundary. This certainly is positive news from the context of inter-state boundary resolution. Collectively there are 20 districts touching the boundary line, Assam has eight and Arunachal Pradesh has twelve.
- Technology if engaged, can be used to solve boundary line issues by using Geographics Information Technology (GIS) and Satellite Mapping of the actual locations of the inter-state boundaries.
- Resolution can also be reached if Reviving the Inter-State Council is to be considered as a possible option.
- Thinking of Article 263 of the Constitution, there is a provision where the inter-state council can expedite the situation by inquiry, advice, chew over subjects common to all states and make a possible recommendation for better formulation of the policies.
Resolution can also be reached if Reviving the Inter-State Council is to be considered as a possible option. Need to discuss the matters of mutual concern, to states in each region - considerations relating to socio-economic planning, inter-state boundary disagreement, inter-state transportation, and communication, etc.
India is the embodiment of unity in diversity. However, to further strengthen preach and spread the message of peace and unity in the region, the Centre and state governments need to imbibe the ethos of cooperative federalism.