Conrad defends delay in holding talks

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SHILLONG, February 16: Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has defended the delay in holding CM and CS level meetings between Assam and Meghalaya to discuss the vexed boundary dispute while instances of skirmishes continue to be reported from the disputed areas.
The long-standing border dispute between Assam and Meghalaya raised its ugly head once again in the Langpih area on Thursday when Assam Police personnel allegedly stopped the staff of MeECL engaged in electrification in a nearby village from working and arrested two persons. This led to a clash between local residents and the police personnel.
The police later released the two persons, who were arrested in connection with the incident.
Sangma on Friday said the dispute has been there since the inception of the state and it is not easy to nd the right time and place to hold border talks.
“There is a need to hold a preliminary discussion before holding discussions on the boundary dispute at the top level.
But I can assure that we are discussing at different levels,” he said.
The chief minister added that if the meetings at the levels of chief minister and chief secretary take place, these should come up with some concrete points.
When asked about the documents which were submitted by Meghalaya government to Assam long time back to substantiate its claims over the 12 areas of differences, Sangma said the past governments were also not able to resolve the issue since there are claims and counter claims and there is documentation from both sides.
“We need to nd a solution to this. But at the same time, we need to ensure peace and harmony in the border areas and we need to take the people into confidence besides ensuring that development is not acted,” he added.
Giving an account of the incident which happened on Thursday, Sangma said that as per the report given to him, work was being done for electrification and while the lines were drawn, some people came out and starting objecting.
Following this, there were some arguments and some residents started pelting stones. The Assam Police personnel, who were stationed in the area, resorted to lathi-charge to stop the stone pelting, the chief minister added.
Sangma further informed that the government immediately took up the issue with the Assam counterpart and added that the DGP’s oce and the additional superintendent of police of West Khasi Hills have raised the issue with officials of the neighbouring state.
“We are trying to ensure that the status quo is maintained so that the sentiments of the people are not hurt. That is where the challenge lies. It is a difficult task sometimes since such incidents take place very quickly. From our side, we are maintaining a very strong stand with Assam to ensure that this kind of incident does not recur,” he added. (Courtesy: TST)