Shillong: Traditional village headman from seven villages of inter-state boundary villages with Assam on Monday threatened to seek legal recourse after Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma “refused” to meet them to discuss on the Memorandum of Understanding which has resolved the land disputes in six out of the 12 areas of differences.
Officials said that Chief Minister couldn’t give the visiting traditional heads an audience since they had no prior appointment. These headmen were from villages falling under Mylliem, Jirang and Nongspung Syiemship (kingdom.)
“The Chief Minister have betrayed us by giving away our land to Assam without the consent of the landowners. The Meghalaya government went ahead signing the MoU with Assam. We will approach the High Court and Supreme Court,” Kalden Sangma, the village headman of Maikhuli, said He said villagers from Maikhuli possess all the land documents, but still the village was handed over to Assam, as per the agreement, without consultation.
“We will not part our land with Assam. Come what may we will not allow them to give away our land to Assam,” the disappointed Kalden said.
Others too showed their land documents and vowed to take the fight to the court stating that land is under the sixth schedule and can’t be alienated. Meghalaya Pradesh Youth Congress accompanied these village chiefs and also echoed their concerns.
Meanwhile, these villagers want the government to rescind the agreement and come to an agreement based on a notification from September 14, 1876.
“The Agreement was signed without the knowledge, consent and concurrence of the land owners, villagers, clan elders, headmen and Syiemships falling under the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council,” the memorandum signed by the headmen and land owners stated.
The village chiefs also referred to a joint Border Committee formed in 1967 between Meghalaya and Assam to identify the boundary at the undefined Basistha-Khanapara area, which the committee concluded that the boundary of Mylliem Syiemship remains unchanged as notified in 1876.
However, under the boundary agreement signed between Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma on March 29, large parts of territories along the Basistha-Khanapara of Mylliem Syiemship were arbitrarily handed over to Assam. Our tribal people inhabiting the borders had been steadily losing their lands due to forceful encroachments and land grabbing by non-tribal from Assam… Meghalaya government by signing the MoU has now openly sided with the illegal encroachers,” the memorandum claimed.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong has ruled out revisiting the boundary agreement signed with Assam and maintained that the decision was taken after thorough consultation with all stakeholders.
“Though land belongs to the people in Meghalaya, it is, however, the job of the government to resolve the disputes in the inter-state boundary areas. The decision was a well-balanced arrangement,” Tynsong said. He, however, appealed to the people of the State to cooperate with the government on the matter.