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Assam has no claim over any land — Himanta Biswa Sarma

By IANS Updated: Aug 10, 2021 10:36 pm

New Delhi, Aug. 10 (IANS): Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Tuesday that the state has no claim over any land, adding that he does not want anyone to leave their land.

Talking to the media in the national capital, Sarma said, “We cannot fight with the bordering states for small villages. We do not want anybody to leave their land, as Assam has no claim over any land.”

“Assam did not ask for any land. It is not a question of them leaving the land because we have never in our history asked for any land from our bordering states,” Sarma said.

He was referring to the border disputes between Assam and its neighbouring states.

Recently, a border dispute between Assam and Mizoram had turned violent, killing at least six people.

“Their (people’s) loyalty lies with which side? Are they loyal to Assam or Meghalaya? Loyalty is one of the primary criteria, while second criteria is your history, and third is administrative convenience. States exist for the welfare of the people.

“So if you have to travel 10 km in Meghalaya to reach the district headquarters and 30 km in Assam for the same purpose, administrative convenience is definitely not on Assam’s side. So, four broad criterion have been formulated — historical prospective, continuity, administrative convenience and will of the people, which is the most important factor,” said Sarma.

The chief minister said that he has invited all Assam MPs in the national capital for dinner on Tuesday, cutting across party lines.

“I want to speak to them about Assam’s development issues as one unit,” he said.

Talking about Assam’s population control policy, Sarma said, “This is the need of the hour and you cannot do it by force. You need to have both incentives and disincentives. Assam’s policy is based on both incentives and disincentives. We give incentives for small families and also provide disincentives for bigger families. If somebody goes through Assam’s population policy, I think some of the provisions can be followed nationally.”

157 killed, 65,729 displaced in NE border rows — Rights group

The New Delhi-based Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) on Tuesday claimed that the inter-state border disputes in the north-eastern region had left 157 persons killed, 361 injured, and 65,729 people displaced in the past 42 years.

In its report, titled “Border Disputes in the Northeast: The Raging War Within”, it said that these figures occurred in the clashes over border disputes between Assam on one hand and the states — Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland carved out of it from 1979 to July 26 (this year).

RRAG Director, Suhas Chakma, in a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Chief Ministers of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland said that the victims are all citizens of India and the increasing human toll warrants permanent peace-building measures.

Out of the deaths, the maximum (136) took place due to the Assam-Nagaland dispute, followed by 10 in the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh dispute, seven in the Assam-Mizoram dispute, and four in the Assam-Meghalaya dispute.

Of the injured, over half (184) were from the Assam-Nagaland dispute, followed by 143 in the Assam-Mizoram dispute, 18 in the Assam-Meghalaya dispute, and 16 in the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh dispute.

Chakma said, “The states usually approach the Supreme Court to resolve the disputes but the demarcation of boundaries is an executive task. Therefore, the Supreme Court usually recommends formation of the boundary commissions. However, if any of the states does not accept the recommendations of the boundary commissions, including those appointed by the Supreme Court, little progress can be made.”

He said that in the past, the recommendations of the boundary commissions have been consistently rejected.

On the Assam-Meghalaya border dispute, Meghalaya had rejected the recommendations of Justice Y V Chandrachud Committee, which had awarded Langpih to Assam while Assam had accepted them.

“But, Assam itself had rejected the recommendations of the three-member boundary commission appointed by the Supreme Court on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border dispute which, in its 2014 report, recommended the transfer of around 70-80 percent of the disputed land to Arunachal Pradesh.”

The Centre had also constituted two boundary commissions — the Sundaram Commission (1971) and the Shastri Commission (1985) to settle the Assam-Nagaland border disputes but both states rejected their recommendations.

“The issue has never been the absence of technology and expertise to draw the boundaries of the states but the absence of political will. Satellite mapping to demarcate boundaries and settle such disputes as suggested by the Ministry of Home Affairs cannot manufacture the political will over claims on territories based on borders drawn by the colonial British as early as 1835,” Chakma said.

Requesting the chief ministers to give up one-upmanship, the RRAG recommended that the Union Home ministry and the state governments to maintain status quo till final resolution of boundary disputes, identify the line of de facto control of the areas and deploy police from both the states, who will operate under the coordination of the CRPF with respect to any dispute, including in maintenance of law and order.

The rights group also suggested conducting biometric documentation of the residents living within the disputed areas on both sides, issuing identity cards, and declaring their names through joint gazette notifications to prohibit settlement in new areas, unless agreed by both parties.

The worst-ever violence along the Assam-Mizoram border on July 26 left six Assam Police personnel dead and around 100 civilians and security personnel of the two neighbouring states injured.

By IANS Updated: Aug 10, 2021 10:36:37 pm