Thursday, October 6, 2022

Assam-M’laya border deal: ASM threatens to move court

Asom Sattra Mahasabha (ASM), the umbrella organi-sation for Vaishnavite monasteries in Assam (called ‘satras’) has alleged two ‘satras’ and over 20 ‘naamghars’ (prayer houses) located in Assam will go to Meghalaya as part of the recent deal between the two states to sort out border disputes, reports the Hindustan Times.
Last week, chief ministers of Assam and Meghalaya met union home minister Amit Shah in Delhi and apprised him of the recommendations of regional committees of the two states which suggested division of 6 of the 12 disputed border areas between them with the help of a give-and-take formula of swapping land.
The chief ministers also urged the Centre to take necessary actions so that the recommendations get implemented.
As per the recommendations, of the total 36.79 sq km disputed land in six areas-Gizang, Tarabari, Boklapara, Khanapara-Pilingkata and Ratacherra–Assam will get 18.51 sq km while Meghalaya will get 18.28 sq km.
The recommendations, which sought to end the five-decade old border row between the two neighbours, were approved earlier by the cabinets of both the states.
“We have learnt that due to this deal, two ‘satras’ and over 20 ‘naamghars’, which are very much part of Assam will be handed over to Meghalaya. This is totally unacceptable to us and we won’t allow it,” said Kusum Kumar Mahanta, general secretary of ASM.
He added that the two ‘satras’, which could go to Meghalaya are Baberi Gosai Satra in Mohmorang and the other one is Netwajapa Satra in Longsai. Both the ‘satras’ and the ‘naamghars’ fall in Boklapara (one of the 6 disputed areas), which is part of West Guwahati legislative constituency.
As per the details available of the deal between the two states, of the total 1.57 sq km disput-ed area in Boklapara, 1.01 sq km will be part of Assam while the rest 0.56 sq km go to Meghalaya.
“It seems ASM has got it facts wrong. As part of the recent agreement, only one ‘naamghar’ would go to Meghalaya. This was discussed with residents of the area by the regional com mittee and over 70% of them said they wanted to be part of the neighbouring state,” West Guwahati MLA Ramendra Narayan Kalita, who represents the ruling Ason Gana Parishad (AGP), said.
“Most residents of these areas have agricultural land in Meghalaya and when it was said that those plots can’t be merged with Assam, they decided to side with Meghalaya. We will have talks with ASM and apprise them about the factual position,” he added.
Denying the assertions by Kalita, Bijoy Rabha, ‘satradhikar’ (head) of Netwajapa Satra, which was established nearly two centuries ago, said that the regional committee didn’t visit the area to take views of local residents.
The ‘satra’ falls in Longsai village and has around 100 families, almost all of whom belong to the tribal Rabha community.
Informing that ASM won’t allow Assam’s land that covers ‘satras’ and ‘naamghars’ to be handed over to Meghalaya, Mahanta said the organization will soon approach Gauhati High Court seeking revocation of the deal and will also write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union home minister Amit Shah.