Sonowal, Sangma meet at Guwahati; discuss various bilateral issues

Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and his Meghalaya counterpart Mukul Sangma met at Brahmaputra state guest house in Guwahati on April 1 and discussed border and various other issues of mutual interest.

Both the chief ministers vowed to take forward the dialogues to resolve some long pending issues and build a foundation for a robust relationship.

In the meeting, it was discussed to resolve boundary issues through dialogue taking into account views of both sides.  Both Sonowal and Sangma agreed to take steps to amicably demarcate the 12 disputed areas at the border, fixing of boundary pillars etc. so that long pending contentious border issues can be resolved to the satisfaction of the people of both states.

Chief secretary level meetings were decided to be held between the two states to iron out differences and reach at acceptable conclusions.

Raising the issue of extremist activities in South Salmara and Mancachar districts of Assam bordering Garo Hills districts of Meghalaya, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that joint mechanism must be put in place to check criminal activities like extortion and abduction carried out by Meghalaya insurgent outfits in the border areas and intelligence sharing and other cooperation to maintain law and order must be increased.

Saying that people of Assam and Meghalaya have age-old ties, Sonowal stated that protection of environment must be the prime objective of both state governments and he urged the Meghalaya counterpart to take steps to prevent cutting of hills that causes flash floods in Guwahati city.

Expressing his pleasure for being invited to Assam for the talks, Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma said that his government has been able to reduce crime considerably in his state and Assam government has also extended full cooperation in managing crimes at border areas and insurgent groups would be controlled at border areas in near future.  As Meghalaya depends heavily on agro-horticulture produce as a mainstay of its economy, the government of Meghalaya is committed for facilitating peaceful environment for Assam traders to augment the supply chain of its products, Sangma said.

Saying that illegal cutting of hills would be stopped, Sangma said as Meghalaya shares 433 kilometre long international border with Bangladesh, stopping illegal migration and managing crime at the border areas remain key concerns for Meghalaya similar to Assam and both states must jointly tackle these issues. Only strong political will can make it possible for both state governments to bring peace and contribute to the development of Northeast region, Sangma added.

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