Border pact: People will get to pick state of choice | India News

GUWAHATI: The partial resolution of the five-decade-old Assam-Meghalaya border dispute on Tuesday was the culmination of a unique exercise that gave people living in the six disputed areas with dual voter cards the freedom to choose which state they wanted to be part of.
Although Meghalaya was carved out of Assam in 1972, the demarcation of the boundary between the neighbors has remained vague all these years, perpetuating the tussle for territory, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said after inking the agreement with his counterpart Conrad Sangma.

Many voters in Boko assembly constituency of Assam are also registered as voters in Meghalaya’s Rambrai Jyrngam assembly constituency. Similarly, a large chunk of voters in Jirang constituency of Meghalaya are also voters in Assam’s Palasbari and West Guwahati assembly seats.
As the border dispute dragged on, both states built infrastructure on the disputed land, benefiting people living there not just in terms of voting rights but also welfare schemes offered by either state.

The two state governments have long been asking these people to pick the state of their choice and surrender one voter card, albeit without success. A key feature of the agreement to end the dispute at Tarabari, Gizang, Hahim, Baklapara, Khanapara (Pilingkata) and Ratacherra, which straddle Cachar, Kamrup and Kamrup metropolitan districts of Assam, and the corresponding Meghalaya districts of West Khasi Hills, Ri- Bhoi and East Jaintia Hills, is to have the residents of these areas choose one of either state.

“The will of the people was given priority, besides historical facts and maps,” Sangma said.
His Assam counterpart said the unclear demarcation of the boundary meant that asking people where they wanted to be was the only way out. He said the agreement was finalized “with the spirit of accommodation”.

“There is now hope that we can resolve border disputes and live together. The signing of the agreement will send a strong message to our other neighbors that border disputes can be resolved, ”Sarma said.

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