GUWAHATI/BOKO: Amidst allegations of browbeating to a section of fringe dwellers who wants to side with Assam, most of the villagers of Amagaon, Hohuapara, Malang Salbari and Malang Joypur today expressed their willingness to stay with Meghalaya.
The committees of Assam and Meghalaya visited the villages located between Kamrup in Assam and West Khasi Hills in Meghalaya today. While Border Development and Protection Minister Atul Bora led the Assam committee, PHED Minister Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhan led the Meghalaya committee.
The four border villages are mostly Garo and Rabha populated ones. During the interaction with them, most of the villagers expressed their willingness to side with Meghalaya.
However, allegations do the rounds that a few people from Meghalaya browbeat the villagers who want to stay with Assam. They allegedly asked the villagers not to express their willingness to be with Assam before the regional committees.
Border village Malang Joypur was tense before the arrival of the two regional committees there. Police personnel and district administration officials accompanied their respective regional committees during today's visit.
Talking to The Sentinel, Atul Bora said, "We took opinions of the fringe dwellers today. We will submit the report to our Chief Minister on November 30. While some villagers want to stay with Meghalaya, some want to be with Assam for their social and traditional affinities.
"We don't want any dispute on land with Meghalaya. However, border skirmishes do occur because of misunderstanding. However, we have joined hands to put an end to such disputes. We have also requested the local people to maintain peace.
"After the regional committees submit their reports to their respective chief ministers, the two chief ministers will hold talks to take the right decision."
Bora further said, "Sporadic incidents started in some of the border villages. Some people from Meghalaya are allegedly preventing the villagers not to express their willingness to stay with Assam. We hope to settle the disputes amicably."
Talking to the media, Lyngdoh Tongkhan said, "Both the states are cooperating to put an end to border disputes. We have taken the opinions of the people and will submit the report to our Chief Minister. Both the CMs will meet again and take the right decision."
When asked about the reported browbeating to the villagers by some people from Meghalaya, Lyngdoh Tongkhan said, "We have no such reports. If such incidents happened, that shouldn't have been. We need peace.
"The main problem in the border villages is dual voting rights. Many of them have voter cards from Assam and Meghalaya as well. I request the fringe villagers to surrender the voter cards of the state which they don't want to side with."
Boko MLA Nandita Das said, "I have reported that a few people from Meghalaya have been browbeating the border villagers who want to stay with Assam. The people from Meghalaya didn't allow them to attend today's hearing. Thus, what the villagers said today is not the opinion of all. I have talked to Minister Atul Bora and the Kamrup SP on this issue."
MLA Das is a member of the regional committee.