Karbi groups call for end to border impasse

“Permanent solution needed for peace, harmony among residents”

GUWAHATI: Karbi groups in Assam have called for immediate settlement of the boundary issues with Meghalaya in the wake of uncertainty and attempts by both states to set up border outposts along the constitutional boundary from time to time.

Organisations such as Joint Action Committee for Autonomous State (JACAS), and several factions of the Karbi Students Association have been demanding a permanent solution of the border issue keeping in mind the interests of the residents of the area.

The past couple of weeks have triggered tension along the boundary between West Karbi Anglong and West Jaintia Hills after foiled bids by Assam and Meghlaya police to set up temporary structures at Khatkhasla and Psiyar villages respectively.

“There has been tension in the villages bordering Meghalaya since decades now, which is why both states must talk and settle the issue once and for all,” Stalyn Ingti, vice-chairman of JACAS, told The Shillong Times on Monday.

Meghalaya has been demanding transfer of Block I and Block II of Karbi Anglong to the state. On September 7, 2018 the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) had raised the same demand.

JACAS, which has been spearheading the movement for an autonomous state for the Karbis of Assam over the decades, reiterated its demand for an autonomous state under 244 (A) of the Indian Constitution.

“Most of the villages along the border do not have good roads. There has been no development work initiated by the Assam government and the intention is rather questionable. If the home and border departments cannot solve the long-pending issues, then it is better we get an autonomous state under 244 (A) of the Constitution,” Ingti said.

“Karbi Anglong became a district (United Mikir Hills) in 1951 and during the British era, it was divided into three parts for good governance. However, we are of the view that a state within a state would pave the way for speedy resolution of all pending issues,” he said.

It may be mentioned that Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, while addressing the 68th foundation day of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council in West Karbi Anglong on Sunday, assured to discuss the matter (demand for autonomy) with the chief minister.

The Suren Hanse faction of Karbi Students Association (KSA) also demanded immediate solution to the border dispute between Assam with Meghalaya.

“We have submitted a memorandum to chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council chief executive member (CEM), Tuliram Ronghang on Friday demanding early settlement of the boundary dispute,” Suren Hanse told this correspondent on Monday.

According to the KSA, the BOP dismantled at Khatkhasla should be constructed permanently on the bank of Umtang which is the constitutional boundary.

“There should be a survey for proper demarcation of the boundaries and development work should be taken up by the KAAC and the Assam government so that there is peace and harmony among the residents of the border hamlets,” Hanse said.

KSA has also alleged that Karbi-populated villages such as Umkhirmi, Lumujem, Khasiskhat and Khatkhasla located along the inter-state boundary have over the years borne the brunt of encroachment by illegal settlers, posing threat to the residents.

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