A long last resolution likely as Arunachal-Assam sign MoU in Delhi

Assam-Arunachal Border The resolution of the long-standing border dispute between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, was concluded with an MoU signed on April 20, 2023. The dispute concerning 123...

Assam-Arunachal Border

The resolution of the long-standing border dispute between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, was concluded with an MoU signed on April 20, 2023. The dispute concerning 123 villages that stretched across 12 districts of Arunachal Pradesh and 8 of Assam, had been a source of tension for nearly five decades. The MoU was signed in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Union Minister for Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju, who represents the Arunachal Pradesh West Lok Sabha constituency. The resolution stands “final” and delineates a conclusive remark to the long-standing border dispute. Both states have agreed “no new claims” would be raised and have ensured the prevention of any encroachment in the border areas.

In efforts to resolve the long-standing border dispute between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, an MoU was signed between the Chief Ministers of both states on April 20, 2023. Calling it a “historic occasion”, Home Minister, Amit Shah lauded the efforts of both states to bring rest to the border issue that festered for nearly five decades. The MoU was signed in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Union Minister for Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju, who represents the Arunachal Pradesh West Lok Sabha constituency.

Shah emphasised that the government is constantly working towards the resolution of discord between neighboring states. The MoU concludes the dispute over 123 villages that stretch across 12 districts of Arunachal Pradesh and 8 of Assam.

History of the dispute

In 1951, before North East Frontier Agency or NEFA (present-day Arunachal Pradesh) was carved out of Assam, a sub-committee headed by then Assam Chief Minister Gopinath Bordoloi submitted a report with reference to the administration of NEFA. In the recommendations stated, around 3,648 sq km of the “plain” area of Balipara and Sadiya foothills were to be transferred from NEFA to Assam.

However, in 1972, when Arunachal Pradesh became a Union territory, it contested the claims of the recommendation maintaining that the forested tracts of the plains had traditionally belonged to the hill tribal chiefs and were unilaterally transferred to Assam.

Past efforts to resolution

A tripartite committee was set up to resolve the boundary issue in April 1979. However, only 489 km of the 804 km could be demarcated on the agreement of both states and further demarcation remained contested by Arunachal Pradesh based on earlier claims of 1972.

Assam objected to the claims and filed a case in the Supreme Court, calling it “encroachment” made by Arunachal Pradesh.

Following, in 2006, a local boundary commission was appointed headed by a retired SC Judge, and in 2014, the local commission submitted a report recommending the transfer of territories Arunachal claimed post the 1951 report. However, the discussions ended in futility.

Read: Border row concludes between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, MoU to be signed soon

The MoU

In 2021, following the insistence of Prime Minster, Modi, and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, both states decided to settle the dispute through dialogues. Several rounds of talk took place on the issue on January 24, 2022, and again on April 20, 2022. It was decided that the disputed villages would be confined to 123 which Arunachal had claimed before the Local Commission in 2007 and second, realignment of the boundary would be done with reference to the 1979 tripartite committee recommendations. Finally, both parties would set up 12 regional committees for joint verification of the 123 villages in the 12 districts of Arunachal Pradesh and 8 districts of Assam.

Resolution

On July 15, 2022, Namsai Declaration was signed between the Chief Ministers of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, and the dispute over 37 villages of the 123 was settled. With the MoU signed on April 20, 2023, the dispute over another 34 villages has been resolved. Of the 71 villages on which the resolution was agreed, it stated that 1 village in Arunachal Pradesh will be included in Assam as per the notified boundary, 10 villages will remain in Assam and similarly, 60 villages will remain in the territory of Arunachal Pradesh. Of the remaining 52 villages, the boundaries of 49 villages, the demarcation of boundaries is set to be finalsed within a period of 6 months “through continuous dialogue” and the other 3, located partially within the Indian Air Force area in Dullong will be taken up by the Government of Arunachal Pradesh in line with the discussions with the Government of India and the Indian Air Force.

The MoU stands “final” and delineates a conclusive remark to the long-standing border dispute between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. Both states have agreed “no new claims” would be raised and have ensured the prevention of any encroachment in the border areas.

The Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Pema Khandu calling it a “historic MoU” said that, “With this resolution of 123 villages, the peaceful coexistence of both the states will only increase.”

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