Thursday, October 6, 2022

Cong demands discussion on Assam govt’s formula to resolve border row

Guwahati, Jan 22 (PTI)

The Congress on Saturday kept up its opposition to Assam government’s recommendation for a ‘give and take’ formula to settle partially the long-pending boundary dispute with Meghalaya and demanded discussion on the matter in the state Assembly.
It said the Assam government’s decision should be challenged in court and a mass movement should be built against it.
Congress, which is the main opposition party in Assam, staged a demonstration in front of its headquarters here during the day against the government’s proposal.
It also convened a meeting of academicians, intellectuals and lawyers to discuss the issue. Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia (Cong) wrote to Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, saying the decision is against the interests of the state and demanded a special Assembly session to discuss the matter in detail.
“By taking a final decision on the Assam-Meghalaya border imbroglio in the state cabinet and sending a report to the Centre without a discussion in the state Assembly, you have done something that is against the state’s interests. This is irresponsible and unconstitutional,” he said.
Saikia urged the chief minister to rescind the cabinet decision and the final recommendation.
“…If you do not allow a discussion in the House on the issue and proceed without concern for public opinion, you will be remembered in history as the chief minister who surrendered,” the Congress leader said in his letter.
According to the final set of recommendations given jointly by three regional committees formed by the two states, out of 36.79 sq km of disputed area taken up for settlement in the first phase, Assam will get full control on 18.51 sq km and Meghalaya on 18.28 sq km.
The recommendations were approved by the cabinets of the two states on January 19 and were submitted to Union Home Minister Amit Shah by Sarma and his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad Sangma on Thursday.
In the meeting organised by the Congress, civil society participants called for immediate withdrawal of the proposals made by the government, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) spokesperson Manjit Mahanta said in a statement.
“The meeting was equivocal in stating that the public of Assam will never accept such surrender by the government,” he said.
The statement said the government did not heed the Congress’ request for further discussion on the issue and went ahead and got it approved by the state cabinet.
It said several persons present in the meeting pointed that the state government had on many occasions informed the Assembly that Meghalaya has been encroaching its land. “Now the same government is ready to concede it”.
Speaking at the meeting, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee president Bhupen Borah said the party will never allow such an “undemocratic, unconstitutional” decision as the one taken by the Assam government to be imposed on the people.
He also questioned the state government’s failure to discuss the matter in the Assembly and to take the people into confidence before approving the recommendations of the regional committees and forwarding it to the union home minister.
Meghalaya was carved out of Assam in 1972 and it had challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, leading to disputes related to 12 areas in different parts of the shared 884.9 km long border. Six areas with relatively less critical differences have been taken up in the first phase of the settlement of the inter-state border dispute.