Delimitation notifications issued by past Assam govts source of ascertaining Meghalaya’s territory

SHILLONG, Apr 18: The Meghalaya government on Wednesday said that the delimitation notifications issued by the then Government of Assam in respect of the constituencies of the then Khasi and Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council, thus, form a reliable source of ascertaining the territory of the then United Khasi and Jaintia Hills district.“An examination of the delimitation notifications of 1952, 1966 and 1972 indicate that a large number of villages located within the areas of differences were part of the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills district and, therefore, should now form part of Meghalaya,” Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma said.Conrad was replying to a resolution on the boundary dispute between Meghalaya and Assam brought by lone Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) legislator, Adelbert Nongrum.The Chief Minister also pointed that similarly, the de-limitation notification in respect of the constituencies of the Legislative Assembly issued during the period when Meghalaya was part of the composite state of Assam would throw light on the extent of territories of the then United Khasi and Jaintia and Garo Hills district.According to him the status of villages in the areas of differences could be determined with reference to these notifications issued before the creation of the state of Meghalaya.Conrad also informed the House that census operations during the relevant period were carried out with reference to police stations, and these were administrative units within a district.“Therefore, the Census records could also form one of the bases for determination of the status of villages located within the areas of differences,” the Chief Minister added.He also said that a large number of villages located within the areas differences with Assam formed part of the Khasi states, historically, and therefore, should now form part of Meghalaya.“Even if for some specific administrative purposes, a few of these villages were placed under the control of the revenue districts of the erstwhile composite state of Assam, such villages continued to be part of the Khasi states for all other purposes. Historically, linguistically, and ethnically also, they were more akin to the Khasi community,” Conrad said.He also pointed out that when the Khasi states were included in the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills district as per the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, then these villages should fall within the newly created district even as he added that the administrative reasons of the pre-independence era were no longer relevant, and the historical status of their belonging to the Khasi states should be recognised.The Chief Minister also pointed out that there are official communications of the British period, which establish thatb the areas which were part of the Khasi states has been tagged with the neighbouring district (now falling under Assam) for the limited purpose of revenue collection, without severing their historical links with the Khasi states.“If they were part of the Khasi states, then they should now form part of Meghalaya,” Conrad said.The Chief Minister also said that the state government has been able to buttress the claims by presenting supporting documents including maps.“These documents and maps, amongst others, have been shared with the government of Assam. These documents are of ample evidentiary value and could eventually pave the way for adjudication before the judiciary, if the situation so warrants,” Conrad said.These apart, the Chief Minister also said that series of meetings between the Chief Ministers as well as Chief Secretaries of both the states were held at various intervals with a view to find an amicable solution to this vexed problem through bilateral talks, to identify the raeas of differences and to suggest measures to resolve the differences but a long term solution has not emerged so far.Earlier, Nongrum while initiating the debate on the Resolution said that there should no longer be debates and discussions on the matter and the issue should be solved once and for all.The KHNAM legislator also said that eventhe Chandrachud Commission had given its report on the matter but yet there has been no solution.Lamenting that it was only Meghalaya that was respecting the status quo agreement between Meghalaya and Assam in the areas of differences, Nongrum said, “Status quo is being adhered to only by Meghalaya while Assam continues to obstruct our positive motive.”He also urged the government to speed up developmental works in areas which lie on the edge of the areas of differences or else Assam may claim such areas too.Nongrum also express concern that the border dispute remains only an election issue and once polls are over it is forgotten.

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