NEW DELHI: A delegation of Meghalaya cabinet ministers, led by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on August 8 to deliberate on crucial matters that impact the state’s development and stability.
The delegation, also comprising of Speaker of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly Thomas Sangma, presented a memorandum to Prime Minister Modi, outlining their concerns and seeking his intervention on various issues.
These included the implementation of Inner Line Permit (ILP), resolution of the border dispute with Assam, ongoing peace negotiations with the banned outfit Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), and the inclusion of Khasi and Garo languages in the Constitution’s Eighth Schedule, among others.
A central focus of the discussions was the ongoing border disputes between Meghalaya and Assam. Chief Minister Sangma sought the Prime Minister’s support for resolving the remaining six out of twelve disputed areas. He briefed the Prime Minister about the reconstitution of three regional committees assigned to assess the current status of these areas. It was noted that six areas had been successfully resolved in March 2022 through a joint survey and agreement signed in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Another significant topic was the importance of implementing the ILP system in Meghalaya. This effort, endorsed by a significant resolution from the Meghalaya State Assembly in December 2019, aimed to preserve the state’s unique identity. The delegation sought Prime Minister Modi’s intervention and awaited a response from the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding the potential implementation of ILP.
The delegation also discussed the persistent pursuit of integrating the Khasi and Garo languages into the Constitution’s Eighth Schedule. Chief Minister Sangma confidently emphasised the suitability of these languages for official recognition, underscoring the weight of the resolution passed by the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.
Furthermore, the discussion touched upon peace negotiations with the HNLC. Chief Minister Sangma conveyed the HNLC’s unwavering commitment to unconditional dialogues, aligned with the principles of the Indian Constitution and devoid of preconditions. Acknowledging this commitment, the Ministry of Home Affairs directed the state government to initiate these vital discussions, pledging full support and guidance throughout the process.
In addition, Chief Minister Sangma expressed concerns about the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Amendment) Bill, 2019, particularly regarding the nomination of underrepresented tribes to Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) in Meghalaya. The memorandum eloquently conveyed the state’s position, shedding light on potential disparities and divisions stemming from unequal seat distribution among tribes.
In the aftermath of the meeting, Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma conveyed gratitude for the opportunity to voice the state’s concerns. He highlighted the positive and receptive response from Prime Minister Modi and emphasized the importance of externally aided projects (EAPs) for Meghalaya’s economic growth. Chief Minister Sangma also acknowledged the Prime Minister’s support for Meghalaya’s growth initiatives, particularly in terms of holistic child development interventions and socio-economic upliftment.
The meeting concluded on an optimistic note, with Chief Minister Sangma expressing confidence in the resolutions and support received from Prime Minister Modi.