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Arunachal Pradesh and Assam Border Dispute

Context:

Recently, the Governments of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam have decided to form district-level committees for resolving boundary disputes.

  • The district committees will undertake joint surveys in the disputed areas to find tangible solutions to the long-pending issue based on historical perspective, ethnicity, contiguity, peoples’ will and administrative convenience of both states.

 Relevance:

GS II- Polity and Governance (Inter State Relations)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Assam’s border dispute with Arunachal
  2. About Assam-Meghalaya boundary Dispute
  3. About the Assam – Mizoram Border Dispute

Assam’s border dispute with Arunachal

  • Assam Chief Minister disclosed that the state’s boundary dispute with Arunachal Pradesh was at 1,200 places.
  • Arunachal Pradesh shares a 800-km boundary with Assam and was granted statehood by the State of Arunachal Pradesh Act, 1986 in 1987. Clashes were first reported in 1992 and since then, there have been several accusations of illegal encroachment from both sides, and intermittent clashes.
  • Cases pertaining to Assam’s boundary dispute with Nagaland and Arunachal are pending in the Supreme Court.
  • There was a clear delineation of the boundary when Uttarakhand and Jharkhand were created as states. However, when Mizoram, Arunachal, and Nagaland were created, it was left to certain situations and the ambiguity remained, leading to the disputes.
  •  Miscreants allegedly fired at Assam Forest officials in November 2021 near the Arunachal Pradesh border.
  • A few days prior to which a team of Assam Forest officials were detained by allegedly illegal settlers from Arunachal Pradesh in the forest. They were later rescued by the Assam police.
  • The firing coincided with the visit of the members of the border committees of Assam and Meghalaya to various areas of difference along the inter-State boundary.
  • There was a mixed response from the locals the committee members met. A majority in some villages wanted to be with Meghalaya while most in some other villages wanted to be with Assam.

About Assam-Meghalaya boundary Dispute:

  • Meghalaya, carved out of Assam as an autonomous State in 1970, became a full-fledged State in 1972.
  • The creation of the new State was based on the Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act of 1969, which the Meghalaya government refused to accept.
  • This was because the Act followed the recommendations of a 1951 committee to define the boundary of Meghalaya.
  • On that panel’s recommendations, areas of the present-day East Jaintia Hills, Ri-Bhoi and West Khasi Hills districts of Meghalaya were transferred to the Karbi Anglong, Kamrup (metro) and Kamrup districts of Assam.
  • Meghalaya contested these transfers after statehood, claiming that they belonged to its tribal chieftains. Assam said the Meghalaya government could neither provide documents nor archival materials to prove its claim over these areas.
  • After claims and counter-claims, the dispute was narrowed down to 12 sectors on the basis of an official claim by Meghalaya in 2011.

About the Assam – Mizoram Border Dispute

  • Mizoram borders Assam’s Barak Valley and the boundary between present-day Assam and Mizoram is 165 km long. Both states border Bangladesh.
  • The boundary issue between present-day Assam and Mizoram dates back to the colonial era when inner lines were demarcated according to the administrative needs of British Raj.
  • Assam became a constituent state of India in 1950 and lost much of its territory to new states that emerged from within its borders between the early 1960s and the early 1970s.
  • Mizoram was granted statehood in 1987 by the State of Mizoram Act, 1986.
  • The Assam-Mizoram dispute stems from a notification of 1875 that differentiated Lushai Hills (During colonial times, Mizoram was known as Lushai Hills) from the plains of Cachar, and another of 1933 that demarcates a boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur.
  • Mizoram believes the boundary should be demarcated on the basis of the 1875 notification, which is derived from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873.
  • According to an agreement between the governments of Assam and Mizoram, the status quo should be maintained in no man’s land in the border area.
  • In the Northeast’s complex boundary equations, clashes between Assam and Mizoram residents are less frequent than they are between other neighbouring states of Assam, like with Nagaland.

Assam-Nagaland: Nagaland shares a 500-km boundary with Assam and achieved statehood in December 1963 and was formed out of the Naga Hills district of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh (then North-East Frontier Agency). Violent clashes and armed conflicts, marked by killings, have occurred on the Assam-Nagaland border since 1965.

Way Forward

  • Satellite mapping of the real boundary locations can be used to resolve border disputes between states.
  • Reviving the Inter-state council as a means of resolving an inter-state conflict is a possibility.
  • The Inter-state council is mandated by Article 263 of the Constitution to investigate and advise on disputes, examine issues that affect all states, and make proposals for better policy cooperation.
  • Zonal councils, therefore, must be resurrected to debate issues of common importance to states in each zone, such as social and economic planning, border conflicts, inter-state transportation, and so on.
  • India exemplifies unity in variety. To further deepen this unity, both the federal and state governments must embrace the cooperative federalism attitude.

-Source: Indian Express

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