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Assam, Arunachal CMs sign pact to resolve decades-old border dispute

By PTI Updated: Jul 15, 2022 8:27 pm
Namsai: Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma with Arunachal Pradesh counterpart Pema Khandu during a meeting, in Namsai. (PTI Photo) (PTI07_15_2022_000192B)

Itanagar/Guwahati, July 15 (PTI): Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday inked a pact to end the decades-old border dispute between the two states, and they agreed in principle on restricting the number of contested villages to 86 instead of 123.

Chief ministers of the two North-eastern neighbours announced in separate tweets that they met at Namsai in Arunachal Pradesh and signed the agreement.

“We have decided to restrict the ‘disputed villages’ to 86 instead of 123. Based on our present boundary, we’ll try to resolve the rest by September 15, 2022,” Sarma tweeted.

Of the 123 disputed villages, a consensus has been arrived on 37 and 86 others are left.

According to the Namsai Declaration’, Sarma and Khandu agreed that out of the 37 disputed villages, 28 which are within the constitutional boundary of Arunachal Pradesh shall remain with the state while, three villages on which claims were withdrawn by Arunachal Pradesh, will be with Assam.

Six other villages which could not be located on the Assam side would also remain with the frontier state if they exist in Arunachal Pradesh, the agreement stated.

“Both states would constitute 12 Regional Committees each covering the 12 districts of Arunachal and counterpart districts of Assam for joint verification of 123 villages to make recommendations to respective State Governments,” Khandu tweeted.

These regional committees would submit their first tranche of the report on the areas or any other areas where consensus has arrived, before September 15.

As and when the regional committees will conclude their deliberations and agreement is arrived at between the two governments, the draft MoU will be referred to the union government for its approval, the Namsai Declaration stated.

The border dispute between the two states was seven-decade-old, but sadly no earlier governments showed the political will to resolve it, Khandu said in a Twitter post and thanked the Narendra Modi government for its guidance in addressing the issue.

Namsai Declaration is hugely significant and a landmark progress towards enduring brotherhood, peace and prosperity in the North East,” Khandu said.

Sarma also tweeted: “Inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and guided by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, we could achieve this landmark in resolving our long-pending border disputes. This is a milestone in the history of our friendship and brotherhood.”

The declaration was signed by the two chief ministers in the presence of several cabinet ministers of both states.

The two states share an 804.1 km-long border. The grievance of Arunachal Pradesh which was made a union territory in 1972 is that several forested tracts in the plains that had traditionally belonged to hill tribal chiefs and communities were unilaterally transferred to Assam.

After Arunachal Pradesh achieved statehood in 1987, a tripartite committee was appointed which recommended that certain territories be transferred from Assam to Arunachal. Assam contested this and the matter is in the Supreme Court.

Earlier, Assam and Meghalaya signed an agreement in March this year to end their five-decade-old border dispute in six of the 12 contested locations.

By PTI Updated: Jul 15, 2022 8:27:18 pm