Centre's 4-member committee to report on NE border conflict
New Delhi, Aug 31
As border disputes in northeast states remain unresolved, a central government-appointed committee from the Manohar Parikkar Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis will visit the region and submit a report on the cause of the conflict and propose solutions.
The four-member committee will be headed by a senior bureaucrat and former joint secretary (NE division) in the Home Ministry, Shambhu Singh.
While serving as joint secretary in Union Home Ministry, Singh gained expertise in northeastern states' matters.
Speaking to ETV Bharat, Singh said right now the committee will be basically looking at documenting every detail as to what led to such a clash. "We will look into the historical background which led to such a situation where border disputes keep happening. The committee will also make certain suggestions to the government," said Singh.
It may be mentioned here that in one of the rare bloody border conflicts between Assam and Mizoram on July 26, as many as six Assam police personnel and one civilian lost their lives.
"Our broader mandate is to bring out clearly how and why these disputes have occurred," he said.
Singh said that Assam has been the mother state as far as the northeast is concerned. "Except Manipur and Tripura (two princely States) all States in the northeast have been carved out from Assam," Singh said.
However, Arunachal Pradesh was in a different category. "But since the land was common to Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, and when Arunachal Pradesh used to be a union territory (under North-East Frontier Agency or NEFA), about 900 odd square kilometres of land had been transferred to Assam... so Arunachal Pradesh has been asking that the land be returned back to them," informed Singh.
As far as Nagaland is concerned, there has been encroachment in the reserve forest which were earlier within the boundary of Assam.
"That is another dispute," Singh said.
The senior bureaucrat said that the border dispute with Meghalaya is by and large under control because both the States understood what is required to be done.
Referring to the border conflict with Mizoram, Singh said that the conflict and dispute are not very recent. "When Inner Line was introduced, there was a reserve forest that was included in the inner line in Mizoram. Subsequently, when Mizoram was separated from Assam, this reserve forest was given back to Assam.
Mizoram has been demanding it, besides a boundary which was according to the inner line of 1873," Singh said.
Mizoram has been demanding that 389 square miles of inner line reserved forest area in possession of the Assam government should be handed over to them. Singh, however, said that incidents of encroachment have been happening in the reserve forest.
"The encroachment is mainly by Bengali speaking population who come from outside. And they don't seem to be the original Bengali population of Assam," Singh said. The statement given by Singh assumes significance following encroachment allegedly done by Bangladesh infiltrators.
"The Mizos hold land pattas and agricultural farms in that area. So, there is a conflict of interest. People on the one side want more land and people on the other side does not want to lose their land...and the issue remains the same," Singh said.
According to Singh, the vexed border issue between different States in the northeast could be resolved with a strong political will.
"The political leaders must have to agree to come to a conclusion. But it seems no chief minister is willing to risk giving their land to another state for fear of losing political mileage," Singh said.The team from the Manohar Parikkar Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis already visited Assam in June and held a detailed discussion with the State government representatives over the border issue. Assam and Mizoram share a boundary of about 165 kilometres.
The conflict began during the colonial period.The British rulers demarcated the boundary between Lushai Hills (Mizoram was earlier known as) and the Kachar Hills (Assam). A notification was issued in 1873 for the purpose, which was called the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) defining the inner line permit (ILP) regulations.BEFR was later lifted in Assam and other northeastern states. However, it continued to be in force in Mizoram and Nagaland. Mizoram backed it with the inner line of the Lushai Hills notification of 1993. ETV Bharat