The tendency of people to possess dual voters’ identity cards in order to claim benefits from both Assam and Meghalaya governments has come in the way of settling border disputes, Meghalaya’s Revenue Minister Kyrmen Shylla has suggested.
Meghalaya was carved out of Assam as a State on January 21, 1972. But the boundary between the two north-eastern States has not been demarcated clearly.
Both the States had identified 12 areas of dispute covering a total of 2,765.14 sq km. The largest of the disputed areas are marked Block I and Block II comprising 356 villages. According to a petition filed by a retired Meghalaya-based forest officer in the Supreme Court, the Assam government had merged these villages with present-day Karbi Anglong district in 1951.
“It is hard to settle claims of people in border areas who want benefits from both the State governments. Instead of possessing two EPICs (electoral photo identity cards), the people should identify themselves as residents of either Meghalaya or Assam,” Mr. Shylla told newspersons in Shillong on Wednesday.
He also pointed out that possessing dual voter IDs was illegal.
“We want the people to cooperate with us in order to end the border disputes unsolved for so many years,” Mr. Shylla said, adding people in the border areas cannot claim to be residents of both states.
Officials in Meghalaya said on Thursday that the appeal has started taking effect. The residents of Ummat, one of the disputed villages, have decided to discard the EPIC issued by the Assam government.
The EPICs that the residents of Ummat possess show that the village falls under Baithalangso Assembly constituency in Assam as well as Mawhati Assembly constituency in Meghalaya.