Meghalaya and Assam CM to meet on boundary row

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Shillong, Jun 10 (UNI) Meghalaya Chief Minister Dr Donkupar Roy would meet his Assam counterpart tomorrow to restart talks on the three- decade-old boundary dispute between the two neighbouring states.

Tomorrow's talks between the two Chief Ministers assumes significance against the backdrop of the recent controversy over Langpih village, an area which has been claimed by both Assam and Meghalaya.

Dr Roy would lead a five-minister delegation and senior government officials to Dispur to hold talks with Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. He will be assisted by Deputy Chief Minister Hoping Stone Lyngdoh, who is in-charge of the Home Department.

Meghalaya has 12 areas of difference with Assam, besides Langpih, which Meghalaya claimed that Assam government had encroached upon it.

''Due to five to six historical points and events right from the British era the present dispute over the (Langpih) village has cropped up,'' government spokesperson and Finance Minister Conrad Sangma told reporters after the cabinet meeting, while reiterating Meghalaya's claim over the village.

Terming Assam government spokesperson and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma's recent statement that the Langpih issue was ''non-negotiable'' as an ''immature statement,'' Mr Sangma said the Meghalaya government would meet tomorrow with ''mind to solve the issue.'' However, the spokesman of Assam governmnet, Himanta Biswa Sarma said Mr Gogoi had told his Meghalaya counterpart that the ''matter (Langpih) needs no further discussion since it has been established that Langpih belongs to Assam.'' '' The problem has been there for years. We cannot come with an overnight solution, but we hope to move forward and eventually come to an acceptable solution,'' Mr Sangma added.

Meanwhile, delegates from Langpih village met Dr Roy and submitted a memorandum to him. They reiterated that most of the Khasi and Garo villagers in Langpih want to stay with Meghalaya as Langpih was ''historically'' part of the erstwhile Khasi state.

''If the Assam government wants we can have a referendum over the issue. The settlers who came here in 1987 are just 400 in number.

The Khasi and Garo population is over 10, 000,'' advisor of Rait Mynsaw (the area in Langpih)K P Paniang said.

Earlier, the Meghalaya government had also taken up the matter with Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and sought his intervention to avoid backlash, even as it was considering to move the Supreme Court, if talks with Assam failed to sort out the vexed inter-state border problem, while the Congress had called for the Centre's intervention.

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