Living with border disputes
Call of Shah to end row
Border disputes. These are as old as the understanding of the North East region of India. Mizoram, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh are all States which have experienced border disputes in one form or the other and this is besides the border dispute or disagreement with neighbouring Myanmar but amongst the States, which are otherwise known as the Seven Sisters of North East. Assam is central to the border disputes and not surprising for many of the States in the North East have been carved out of Assam down the years, the last being Mizoram which was part of Assam until 1972 before it was granted the status of a Union Territory and later a full fledged State in 1987 after the signing of the Mizo Accord. The latest flare up in October 2020 in which people on either side were injured with some huts being torched underlined how border disputes can take an ugly turn. Manipur too has had its fair share of border flare ups, particularly with Nagaland over Tungjoy village in Senapati district and the famed Dzuko valley, the stretch of which lies in both Nagaland and Manipur. There have also been border disputes between Nagaland and Assam, and the flare ups at Merapani back in the 1970s and others in the 1980s and even in 2014 should testify this. This is a very brief summation of the border disputes which are rife in the North East region and it is in acknowledgment of this fact that Union Home Minister Amit Shah asked all the North Eastern States to resolve the border disputes by August 15, 2022. The date set by the Union Home Minister is also significant and this must have been taken note of by all the North Eastern States. The occasion in which the Union Home Minister urged the North Eastern States to resolve the border disputes could not have come at a better occasion, coming as it did while Amit Shah was addressing the 69th plenary meeting of the North Eastern Council.
Obviously resolving the border issues will not be an open and shut case. There are reasons why the disputes have lingered on for so long. As Nagaland Chief Minister Nephiu Rio observed, “The only way out is for the parties to get together and work towards finding a long-lasting solution to these disputes. The parties need to be good neighbours and solve the issue amicably.” The observation of the Chief Minister of Nagaland should be of immense significance to Manipur. Apart from the occasional stand off along the Indo-Myanmar border, particularly to the location of border pillars, Nagaland is perhaps the only State with which Manipur has a border dispute particularly at Tungjoy village in Senapati district and over Dzuko valley. Remember how some Dzuko trekkers from Manipur were detained at Nagaland in 2018 after a wildfire ravaged parts of the valley. With the Union Home Minister reaching out to the North Eastern States to settle the border disputes amongst themselves, this is an opportunity that should not be missed. Much will depend on how the different States approach the issue at hand, but it should not be forgotten that the North Eastern States will continue to live as neighbours and good neighbourly ties demand that all approach the issue with an open mind. Sit down, talk things over and don’t come to the negotiating table with extra baggages, should be the mantra of all concerned. Perhaps the different States may address the issue through the North East Democratic Alliance, of which many Govts in the North East are part of.