Still stuck with boundaries
A few days back there were some hiccups along the Manipur – Nagaland border; the commutation and transportation were stalled on both sides. It was reported that the stranded people were brought by special flights from Dimapur. The boundary issue between Nagaland and Manipur has been long-standing and it keeps cropping up every now and then. An amicable solution is still alluding. On an ad hoc basis, we keep appeasing both sides whenever the tension is aggrandized at the village level or local level.
In the recent past, there occurred boundary-related violence at the Assam- Meghalaya border in which some civilians lost their lives. Due to a lack of understanding and due to unclear demarcation such incidents keep happening. Fortunately, both sides were restrained; otherwise, it could have been a major clash in that area. The villagers were controlled and appeased with great difficulty.
Again, a few months back we had seen a conflict between Mizoram and Assam. There was violence at the border. Police from both sides were also involved. There were a lot of firings and tension. That was almost a war-like situation between the two states. Perhaps Central Forces were called and stationed at the disputed sites for quite some time. Now, I believe the forces have been withdrawn.
There are unsettled boundary issues between Arunachal and Assam. And some disputes are still lingering along the Nagaland-Assam Border and Nagaland-Arunachal border. These are minor matters for Delhi, but these small matters are actually big issues for the villagers and local people. In normal times people in adjoining areas live happily and interact with each other. But whenever some controversies come up they tend to kill one another.
We have land issues with China, Bangladesh, and Myanmar; but these are international bilateral issues. Let all these boundary issues may be handled by the competent authorities. The boundary issues with Bangladesh are almost over. However the boundary matters along the McMahon line are still lingering. We just saw a border skirmish at Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh. Indo-Myanmar boundary issues are also lingering. JUNTA is willing to talk; both countries should come forward to do the needful. The fencing work along the Indo-Myanmar border is stopped due to some uncomfortable confusion. These may be sorted out by the competent authorities.
For the time being, we may keep aside the international boundary issues and let us concentrate on the interstate boundaries of the Northeastern region. There are many unsettled boundary issues between the States. This problem is mainly because almost all the NE states are carved out from Assam except Tripura and Manipur which have been Independent Princely States during the British Raj (before that they were sovereign kingdoms).
We really don’t know which way we are moving – I mean the world - whether we are integrating or disintegrating. Some people have started demanding to carve out a separate state from Manipur, and another from Nagaland. Actually, we really don’t understand who is demanding from whom? Whether these are really serious demands or simply they want to open bargaining counters is yet to be seen. Even in Assam, the demand for separate states is still continuing.
We are still living in the past when the land was an important asset for survival. Still land is important. But we need to change our attitude towards the land. We are still following the ancient and medieval concept of land - my land, your land, his land, their land, and so on. It is high time to start thinking collectively that the land belongs to this planet and we are just a temporary guess – this approach will bring about a sea change in our existence.
The continuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine is also about the land; we are still not moved out from the earlier mindsets. Expansionist and imperialist thinking is still looming large. Sometimes we feel like going back to the hunting-gathering stage or the cave life – where there were no boundaries of land, forest, rivers, and seas.
According to a report the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has culminated in a cost of living crisis. An estimated 1.6 billion people are exposed to at least one dimension of the crisis - food, energy, and finance. What a waste! Our Prime Minister Modi ji has rightly said that “now is not the time for war “.
Let us come back to the crux of the matter. We have been encountering border disputes between the states in the northeast for quite some time. Considering the tension and conflict at the border areas which have been a perennial source of headache for the State Governments, the Hon. The Union Home Minister may be urged to look into all these issues. A high power committee of Chief Ministers concerned and local leaders under the aegis of the Union Home Minister may be constituted to amicably settle the state boundary issues in a time-bound manner. ‘Chhote mu bari baad … maap kijiyega Saheb’.