Meghalaya tribesmen to approach UN over India-Bangladesh land deal

Shillong, (IANS) Describing the ratification of the land swap deal between India and Bangladesh as violation of the human rights of the indigenous people, tribal villagers in Meghalaya on Monday threatened to move the United Nations if the Indian government fails to revisit the bilateral agreement.

“We will petition the concerned state and central authorities to immediately conduct a review of the agreement, and if this does not fructify, then as indigenous people, a petition will be sent to the United Nations for intervening and overseeing a fresh boundary survey under its mandate,” said John F. Kharshiing, chairman of the Grand Council of Chiefs of Meghalaya.

Land owners and traditional heads residing near the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya went into a huddle in Dawki village on Saturday over the recent ratification of the land swap deal.

The chairman said the agreement was arrived at in the absence and ignoring the claims of the landowners and traditional heads, which is a violation of human rights of the indigenous people.

Kharshiing said the “faulty” Radcliffe Line was drawn in two months in June-July 1947 in Delhi, due to the urgency to divide India and Pakistan.

He said the boundary between India and Bangladesh along Pyrdiwah was supposed to be midstream on the Piyan river, and pillars were erected on the Indian side of the river as “reference pillars”, but on a number of occasions, the pillars were washed away by strong currents of the Umngot and Piyan rivers.

The chairman also said the land swap would affect the sacred forest of the Ryngksai clan at Umkrem, and “there is a possibility that this precious biodiversity will be lost to Bangladesh”.

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