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Assam-Meghalaya border dispute

GS Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:  Polity: Border demarcation, Internal security-related issues.

 

Source: The Hindu

 Direction: Boundary disputes between the states are in news of late. Also check Maharastra and Karnataka boundary dispute. (See Infographic)

  

Context: Recent killing of 6 personnel in Assam police firing while catching timber smugglers from Meghalaya has flared up the Assam-Meghalaya boundary dispute.

Background of the issue:

Meghalaya was carved out of Assam & became a full-fledged state in 1972. They share 884 km of border. 12 points of dispute between the two states emerged when Meghalaya refused to accept the Assam Reorganization (Meghalaya) Act of 1969. Out of the 12, border disputes along six sectors have been partially resolved last year (2021).

 

Assam Reorganization (Meghalaya) Act of 1969 is based on Gopinath Bordoloi committee recommendations (1951). It recommended that Blocks I and II of Jaintia Hills (Meghalaya) be transferred to the Mikir Hill (Karbi Anglong) district of Assam, besides some areas from Meghalaya’s Garo Hills to the Goalpara district of Assam. Meghalaya rejects these claims.

 

The six disputed sectors are:

Tarabari, Gizang, Hahim, Boklapara, Khanapara-Pillangkata and Ratacherra under the Kamrup, Kamrup (Metro) and Cachar districts of Assam and the West Khasi Hills, Ri-Bhoi and East Jaintia Hills districts of Meghalaya.

 

 

Langpih:

A major point of contention between Assam and Meghalaya is the district of Langpih in West Garo Hills bordering the Kamrup district of Assam. Assam considers it to be part of the Mikir Hills in Assam. Meghalaya says these were parts of erstwhile United Khasi and Jaintia Hills districts, and therefore part of Meghalaya.

 

What was the immediate fallout of the killing incident?

  • Social:
    • Violent clashes, arson and killing
    • Threat to social harmony in the region
  • Economic:
    • Restrictions on the movement of vehicles: Assam police restricted the movement of vehicles to Shillong while there were cases of arson, vandalisation of Assam-registered vehicles
    • Hard impact on tourism: A record highest tourist footfall in Meghana has been badly hit due to the issue
  • Political:
    • Delay in resolving the border dispute. The complications arising out of the incident also delayed the process of resolving the boundary dispute between the two States in the remaining six of the 12 sectors.

 

Way forward:

  • State committees to work with Survey of India for new demarcation of borders while keeping the interest of local communities
  • Using Inter-state councils (Article 263) and Zonal Council for convergence of interests
  • Establishment of tribunals for time-bound resolution of inter-state disputes

Insta Curious:

Do you know, under Article 131(c), the Original jurisdiction of the supreme court can extend to any dispute between two or more states involving legal rights (exclusively)? E.g. the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border dispute has been in SC since 1989.

Insta Links:

Towards a resolution of the Arunachal-Assam border dispute

Assam-Meghalaya border dispute

 

Mains Links

Q. The concept of cooperative federalism has been increasingly emphasized in recent years. Highlight the drawbacks in the existing structure and the extent to which cooperative federalism would answer the shortcomings. (UPSC 2015)

 

Prelims Links: 

Which of the following is the correct arrangement of Northeastern states from North to South?

    1. Arunachal Pradesh-Assam-Nagaland-Meghalaya-Mizoram
    2. Arunachal Pradesh-Nagaland-Assam-Meghalaya-Mizoram
    3. Assam-Arunachal Pradesh-Meghalaya-Mizoram-Nagaland
    4. Arunachal Pradesh-Assam-Mizoram-Meghalaya-Nagaland

Ans: (1)

Justification: See the map above