The chief ministers of Assam and Meghalaya on Friday met for the second time in a month to discuss and settle the long-pending inter-state boundary dispute. Assam’s Himanta Biswa Sarma and Meghalaya’s Conrad Sangma met in Guwahati for the discussions.
Seven districts in Assam share their borders with Meghalaya in the northern and western parts. Among the border areas, the dispute exists in at least 12 points, according to NDTV. The chief ministers held the first round of talks on July 23.
The talks came 11 days after residents of Meghalaya’s Iongkhuli village in Ri Bhoi district protested against the Assam police who tried to remove electricity poles from the area. There were no reported casualties or injuries, the Meghalaya Police had said.
“Hopeful that after this meeting we will be able to come out with a common agenda of strengthening the long standing friendship between Assam and Meghalaya and continue contributing to the development of India,” Sarma tweeted. “Many senior ministers of both sides, CS [chief secretaries] and senior officials joined.”
Sangma said the two states were working towards finding an “amicable solution to the areas of differences”. The Meghalaya chief minister said that six disputed areas were discussed in Friday’s meeting.
“We have decided to form three Regional Committees headed by one Cabinet Minister each from both Meghalaya and Assam to look into matters of the six areas of differences,” Sangma tweeted. “The RCs [Regional Committees] will make joint visits and submit their report within 30 days.”
The Assam chief minister said the regional committees would submit the reports “consisting of their recommendations to find mutually agreeable solutions”. Sarma added that the panels would also take into account “historical aspects, ethnicity, people’s perceptions, administrative convenience and contiguity” as terms of reference.
Territorial disputes between the two states began after Assam was restructured to form other states – including Meghalaya – post Independence, and have been running since then. Meghalaya was demarcated in 1972. Since then, the North East has been rife with communal tension, border disputes, and separatist violence. Assam is the only state with which Meghalaya shares an internal border.