Meghalaya's Ri-Bhoi district administration responded quickly to avert what could have been another border confrontation with Assam lately. What started out as a simple civic amenity project by the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) by constructing electricity poles in Iongkhuli village along the same stretch where its Assamese had erected electricity poles earlier this year in January, quickly escalated into a violent fight between Assam police and officials and other local residents.

While the work was being done, a big posse of Assam government officials and top police officials came to the spot and demolished the erected poles, according to Meghalaya officials. The plan did not go over well with the locals, who put up a fight that nearly ended in fisticuffs. The ADM of Ri-Bhoi, the SP, and senior police officials who were on the scene in a timely manner managed to diffuse the situation.

Assam Mizoram Conflict
Assam and Mizoram clashed over border dispute last monthPTI

Later, Titosstarwell Chyne, Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC), expressed concern about Assam's intentions, observing that while it appears to be eager to resolve the border dispute, on the one hand, it appears to overtly promote disputes with Meghalaya on the other.

Starting on August 9, 2011, Meghalaya identified 12 areas of divergence with Assam and presented paperwork on them. To address the conflicts, the hill state has requested the establishment of a boundary commission overseen by the Centre. The overall contested area is approximately 2700 square kilometres.

Assam Mizoram Conflict
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma paying last tribute to the policemen who lost their lives in the Assam-Mizoram border clash last monthTwitter

Assam has 12 border siputes

The dispute between Assam and Meghalaya began when the latter contested the Assam Reorganisation Act of 1971, which handed Assam control over Blocks I and II of the Mikir Hills, which are now part of the Karbi Anglong district. When the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills district was notified in 1835, Meghalaya claims that both of these blocks were part of it.

There are now 12 places of contention along the 733-kilometre Assam-Meghalaya border. Meghalaya's case is based on survey maps from 1872 and 1929, as well as specific announcements from 1878 and 1951, whereas Assam wishes to follow the Churachand Committee's suggestions, which Meghalaya has rejected.