Border spurs split-cadre call


This tableau at the Behdeinkhlam festival on Tuesday focuses on the Assam-Meghalaya conflict.

Shillong, July 12 :
A fresh demand to demolish the joint cadre system of IAS and IPS officers of Assam-Meghalaya was made today in the wake of the ongoing protests against the long-pending inter-state border row.
Though the Centre had recently accorded Meghalaya a separate high court after years of being under Gauhati High Court, the state still shares a joint cadre system with Assam.
Stating that the joint cadre system was one of the factors responsible for Meghalaya losing land to Assam, Maitshaphrang Movement leader Michael N. Syiem said, “As long as we have the joint cadre with Assam, the loyalty of officers would remain divided. If someone who has served for many years in Assam comes to Meghalaya, his loyalty would remain with Assam.”
Mait Shaphrang Movement is a Shillong-based NGO.
Citing an example, Syiem said way back in 1979, when K.P.S. Gill was serving under Assam police, the officer went to Langpih where he stripped the Meghalaya police personnel of their arms and ammunition, leading to the closure of the police outpost. “But when Gill came to serve in Meghalaya police, he did not do anything against Assam police personnel at Langpih,” he recalled.
Syiem also said as long as a division of loyalty existed, the boundary imbroglio would linger.
“We will continue to have a weak border policy and weak border management. Although we welcome the demand to have a boundary commission, we need to first demolish the joint cadre system. We need to have officers who will be specifically loyal to Meghalaya,” Syiem said.
Speaking to The Telegraph, an IAS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, who did not wish to be named, said, “Questioning an officer’s loyalty is quite ridiculous. Bureaucrats are to implement the policies outlined of the government. Officers alone cannot decide on issues of significance like the border dispute.”
Stating that an officer has to serve the government of the day no matter in which state he is assigned to, the IAS official said, “If the government feels that an officer is not serving the state well, then the government can always release the officer.”
Another bureaucrat said, “No officer who has worked in Assam has come back to Meghalaya. If I am in Meghalaya, I will remain in Meghalaya. However, all IAS probationers have to be trained in Assam for one year. Every IAS officer has worked in Assam for one year.”
The officer also pointed out a disadvantage if the joint cadre system is bifurcated. “Suppose we bifurcate the cadre, there is every possibility of a Meghalaya IAS officer not being able to come to his home state and serve if he has been allotted work in Assam,” the officer said.
Moreover, Syiem said all the political parties in Meghalaya should take the blame if anything happened to the activists who are currently on a fast-unto-death at Langpih.
“The blame should go to all political parties. No one can play a blame-game here. If the border imbroglio is not solved, the people should give the political parties a befitting reply,” he added.
Expressing anguish over the lethargic attitude of the people towards the ongoing protests on the border dispute, Syiem said, “If the people want the government to act, they should come out and stage a protest. They should not be content with being paper tigers.”
“Unlike the Nagas who fight to defend their land from encroachment by Assam, the people here are lethargic,” he said.
According to Syiem, one of the reasons behind the lethargy was the absence of the sense of ownership over land among Khasi men. “Here, there is no emotional attachment to land as Khasi men do not inherit land, they only have self-acquired property. Psychologically, the feeling is why should you die for something which does not belong to you? Give Khasi men responsibility and things will change,” he said.
Syiem said the group has been demanding the enactment of a law on the equitable distribution of self-acquired and ancestral wealth.
He said, according to local customs and tradition, Khasi and Garo men do not inherit property and hence it was a necessity to have the act in place.