Interstate Border Row Takes Volatile Turn in India


Opposition parties’ stormed the Meghalaya Assembly yesterday seeking Parliamentary amendment of the North East Reorganisation Act 1971 to enable the state to retransfer the Khasi and Jayantia villages situated within controversial Block I and Block II of Assam.

The issue has kicked off fresh interstate border tension in the autonomous district of Karbi Anglong which shares the contentious portion of land situated at high altitude in the western part of the autonomous zone bordering Ribhoi district of Meghalaya.

According to last information received from the border which is totally cut-off from telecom network, three platoons of armed Assam police have taken position across Saboda around 120 kilometres from Hamren town, headquarter of Hamren subdivision, Deputy Commissioner of Karbi Anglong P. Buragohain, NN Goswami, Superintendent of police Hamren police district and senior police and civil administration officials have reached Saboda. Section 144 of the Indian Panel Code has been declared in the Meghalaya part of the disputed area by the local authority. Unconfirmed source has informed that, the Superintendent of police, Ribhoi district and his Hamren counterpart has already held a meeting to assert their control over the disputed area which covers major portion of the entire hilly subdivision of Karbi Anglong. The same source has informed that meanwhile moderate exodus of Khasi and Jayantia people have began, fearing clash between armed forces of the two state police battalion which has taken position. “Maximum local people of the area have gone to Meghalaya side for safety reasons although till now situation is calm” said a student leader of the locality from the nearby Jowai town of Meghalaya.

The situation took a volatile turn after the construction of a reception gate in Saboda by the Tourist department under the control of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, which was opposed by civil societies of Ribhoi district. This was followed by intimidating annotations by the people living across the border that the gate along with another building which accommodates a rural bank will be demolished. To quell the situation, Deputy Commissioner of Karbi Anglong P. Buragohain rushed to the place on 4thApril and held an official meeting with his Ribhoi district counterpart.

It may be mentioned that, the total area in question was merged with the autonomous zone of Assam comprising present Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong district on 13th April 1951 through a notification of Assam government bifurcating from Khasi and Jayantia hills to award the new 6th schedule area a bulky shape. Fresh controversy begins in 1971 when the state of Meghalaya was created under the provision of North East Reorganisation Act 1971. Political parties and civil societies of Meghalaya made desperate attempt to regain the lost land which was not integrated with the newly created state but could not succeed.

“We do not recognize any area which the Meghalaya government is describing as Block I and Block II, the area which is inside Karbi Anglong now was well demarcated by the ‘Survey of India’ map, beside this the river Um-min Tung is the natural boundary between the two states, I want that respecting the decision of the SOI peace should be maintained. Autonomous Council is doing its best to develop the border areas, roads connecting Assam and Meghalaya are being built through the help of North Eastern Council, beside this other amenities will be made available in those areas. We have given prestige and appreciation to the Khasi and Jayantia people living within the autonomous area by giving them representation in the council recognizing them as village headmen” Joi Ram Engleng, Chief Executive Member of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council said today commenting on the border issue.

At the time of filing this report, no senior officials of the administration or police could be reached to assert the situation in the interstate border.

Sushanta Roy is a journalist in Assam, India, who photographs and writes about the people, animals and flora of Assam, and the things that affect them.