Shillong(Meghalaya), Mar 13 : State Governor Tathagata Roy on Friday said that a disputed area along the Assam- Meghalaya border is being monitored continuously and neighbouring Assam has been requested to maintain status quo.Following recent reports that senior Assam officials had visited Umwali village on February 19 to carry out a survey for construction of a police outpost, villagers gathered at the spot and opposed the attempt to set up the structure, Roy said.
The area is a bone of contention between the two north-eastern states. Meghalaya claims it to be part of West Khasi Hills district, while Assam asserts that it falls under its Kamrup (Rural) district.Following the incident, the deputy commissioner of West Khasi Hills district had taken up the matter with the deputy commissioner, Kamrup (Rural) district, requesting him to maintain status quo and ensure peace and tranquility in the border area.
The governor was addressing the Assembly on the first day of the budget session.After a chief secretary level meeting on June 20, 2019, the state government had requested Assam to have a chief ministerial level meet on the border issue after the budget session in April, the governor said. Roy also said the state government is committed to ensure the security of its citizens, irrespective of the community they belong to.
The governor’s assurance came in view of the recent violence arising out of a clash between two groups at Ichamati and its fallout in Shillong city. “Protection of life and liberty is a fundamental right in our Constitution…The government has taken all necessary steps…to provide adequate security to all citizens, irrespective of the community they belong to,” Roy said.
He said the state has witnessed agitation and protests by various NGOs against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) and the demand for implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) in the state. Mentioning that “overall” agitations against the CAA and demand for ILP were effectively handled by the state police, Roy, however, said in an unfortunate incident that took place on February 28 in Ichamati, Lurshai Hynniewta, a Khasi Student’s Union member, succumbed to his injuries following the clashes.
The clashes broke out during an anti-CAA and pro-ILP meeting organized by the KSU in East Khasi Hills district close to the Indo-Bangladesh border. After the clashes, curfew was imposed in Shillong and adjoining areas and mobile internet services were suspended in six districts.
“The police was swift to take action and eight people were arrested following the incident,” the governor said while informing that a magisterial inquiry has also been ordered. He said the government has released an amount of Rs 2 lakh as ex-gratia to the next of kin of the deceased KSU member adding that the medical expenses of those who were injured will also be borne by the government.
The government has also sanctioned Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased who was stabbed to death at Iewduh, from the Chief Minister’s Special Grant. He said all persons who were injured in the assault and stabbing incidents in Shillong are being treated in hospitals.
Expressing concern over the recent incident of mob lynching in Syntung area, the governor said such occurrences tend to mar the reputation of the state as a peaceful tourism destination. On coal mining in Meghalaya, the governor said, the state government is committed to promote scientific and secure coal mining by complying with all statutory central legislations pertaining to environmental protection and safety of mine workers.
Efforts by the government to resolve coal mining issues culminated in the landmark judgment by the Supreme Court in which it was held that both private owners of land and community owners have surface as well as sub-soil rights.
There are different types of land ownership in Meghalaya — some are privately owned by individuals, some are owned by a clan and some by a community. In addition to consultation with various stake holders and experts to secure environment-friendly coal mining, the state government has also conducted sensitisation programme in West Jaintia Hills to educate mine owners about the procedures to be followed while starting coal mining.
The state government is also committed to restore the environment, damaged by coal mining in the state, Roy said. The state has been collecting 10 per cent of the value of coal being transported as per orders of the Supreme Court and National Green Tribunal (NGT) and depositing it in the Meghalaya Environment Protection and Restoration Fund (MEPRF).
Meghalaya had earlier admitted that a large number of mines were operating illegally in the state. A total of 15 miners were trapped on December 13, 2018 in an illegal coal mine in East Jaintia Hills district when water from a nearby river gushed into it.