Chief Minister Pema Khandu is trying to work out a solution to the long-pending Assam-Arunachal boundary row. The CM on Thursday informed that Assam and Arunachal have in principle agreed to sort out the interstate boundary issue out of court, “for which the state government has already started its homework.” It was during the recent visit of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to Kimin, where Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma was also present, that Khandu discussed possibilities of an out-of-court settlement with his Assam counterpart. The attempt of Khandu to try to work out a solution outside the court is admirable. However, it is fraught with danger. Khandu will have to tread very carefully.
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma is known as a wily, tough negotiator. He may try to use the boundary negotiation to further cement his political base in Assam. The Assam-Arunachal boundary row is being currently heard in the Supreme Court of India. The Assam government in 2020 had claimed that the state had faced 56 instances of land encroachment by the neighbouring states such as Arunachal, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram, whereas the fact remains that it is Assam which continues to encroach into Arunachal’s territory. Recently, there has been a boundary row between Assam and Nagaland and also between Mizoram and Assam. CM Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed in the state assembly that Mizoram encroached on Assam’s land. This claim was immediately refuted by the Mizoram government. It is in this context that Arunachal CM Pema Khandu should be extremely careful if indeed he is going to go ahead with the decision to look for an out-of-court settlement.