Time is ripe to resolve interstate border disputes

Monday Musing

[ Ranjit Sinha ]

The killing of at least six police personnel in the recent border skirmish following a border dispute between Assam and Mizoram has created a wave of unhappiness that shook not only the central government but all the northeastern states also.

The incident, which occurred even after the intervention of the union home minister, advocating amicable solution of interstate boundary disputes in the NE, is condemnable in strong words. Whatever may be the reason, such criminal activities are not the solution to interstate border disputes.

Fortunately, with constant pressure from the central government, the Assam and Mizoram governments have agreed to take measures to de-escalate the boundary tension and find a lasting solution to the boundary disputes between the two neighbouring states.

It was reported that “representatives of the governments of Assam and Mizoram have agreed to take all necessary measures to promote, preserve and maintain peace and harmony amongst the people living in Assam and Mizoram, particularly in the border areas.”

The two states share a 164.6-km border between Assam’s Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts, and Mizoram’s Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl districts.

The home ministry’s constant advice to the NE states to seek an amicable solution to the interstate border disputes has compelled Assam and other neighbouring states to think seriously to bring about a lasting solution to the border disputes.

The Nagaland assembly has formed a 10-member committee to scrutinize all aspects of the border row with Assam. The committee has been asked to submit its report within a period of three months.

The Nagaland government has also opted for an amicable solution to the border dispute with Assam out of court, and emphasized on maintenance of the status quo in letter and spirit till the settlement of the border disputes.

The chief secretaries of Assam and Nagaland signed an agreement in July to de-escalate the tense situation in two locations in the boundary area.

The first border clash along the Nagaland-Assam boundary area had occurred in 1965. This was followed by several border clashes between the two states.

Nagaland shares a 512-km long border with Assam.

Assam and Meghalaya have also decided to form two regional committees to settle the border disputes between the two neighbouring states in phases. The committees are expected to visit the disputed areas and interact with the people along the boundary area within 30 days.

Meghalaya, which was carved out of Assam as a separate state in 1972, shares a 884.9-km long border with Assam.

Arunachal, the most peaceful state in the country, has also opted for out-of-court solution to the boundary dispute with Assam.

The Arunachal and Assam governments have reportedly agreed to go for an out-of-court solution to all issues related to the boundary dispute, and the groundwork for a solution to the long-pending boundary problem has already started.

“If everything goes well, in the next few months we may see some concrete results towards instilling peace permanently along our boundaries,” Chief Minister Pema Khandu said.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday revealed that “Assam is in touch with Arunachal Pradesh to explore if any out-of-court settlement by mutual trust and confidence is possible.”

Even though a case regarding the border dispute with Assam is pending in the Supreme Court, it is time for the Arunachal government to continue its efforts to find an out-of-court solution to the border dispute with the neighbouring state.

At the same time, the state government should keep a strict vigil on the Arunachal-Assam boundary areas, so that the status quo is strictly maintained before a final settlement of the interstate border dispute.