EDITORIAL | Border disputes in NE: Unending saga of unresolved issues



The never-ending saga of unresolved issues in Northeast India no longer takes people by surprise, as many are now well aware that various issues tend to crop up from time to time.

Such issues flare up, die a quiet natural death, and somehow magically resurface every time some sort of friction is reported.

One of these unresolved issues is the interstate boundary dispute between Assam and Meghalaya, Assam and Mizoram and Assam and Nagaland.

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We may note that Assam shares its border with almost all northeastern states except Sikkim. Therefore, border-related disputes are more or less a sure thing.

However, it was until recently that we witnessed one of the ugly clashes between the border residents of Assam and Mizoram, which left many people from both sides injured.

On attempting to find out the primary reason behind all of this, allegations and counter-allegations all revolve around the same claim—“This land belongs to us”.

With memories of the violent incident still fresh in the minds of the people, the chief ministers of both Assam and Mizoram stepped up and engaged in talks to ensure that something like this would never happen again.

They also raised the issue before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, with the latter asking both CMs to resolve the issue at the earliest.

But we need to remind ourselves that this was not a one-off dispute between the two states.

Past incidents were tenser with the Assam police being alleged of encroaching and harassing people on the other side of the border.

Similarly, the dispute between Meghalaya and Assam is nothing new either. Consecutive governments have tried to resolve this issue - at least that was what they had promised and assured.

The Langpih border clashes of 2010 and 2012 were some of the worst disputes between the two states.

With both state governments remaining adamant and sticking to their claims, the issue is far from being resolved.

At present, the situation has calmed down. But the dispute is very much alive.

The Assam-Nagaland border dispute is also one of the unresolved issues in the region.

The two states have been at each other’s throats over the shared border since Nagaland was carved out of Assam in the year 1963.

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In August 2014, there were clashes along the Assam-Nagaland border at Uriamghat in Assam’s Golaghat district. The clashes resulted in the deaths of several people and rendered thousands homeless.

Disputes are ugly affairs as they often give rise to disharmony, insecurity, hardship and disunity.

We must all hope that in time, disputes can be settled in a non-violent way through peaceful dialogue.

Conflict is inevitable, but combat is always optional.