Ummat and Phuldungsei are sleepy tribal villages nestled in two remote corners of Northeast India. Some of the residents from both these villages, separated by more than 500 kilometres, enjoy a dubious advantage of voting and drawing rations from two states.
There are several such villages in the region as in many places boundaries between states remain contested, often triggering inter-state conflicts akin to one witnessed recently between Assam and Mizoram, and Mizoram and Tripura, laying bare a major chink in India’s nationhood concept.
“When we could resolve the boundary issue with Bangladesh, why can’t north-eastern states resolve their inter-state boundary disputes? We are not different countries. We are states of the same country,” Home Minister Amit Shah said at a meeting of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) in Guwahati in September last year.
Incidentally, all the ruling parties in the seven-sister states of Northeast are part of the NEDA, and Shah mistakenly assumed that the common political identity would obliterate the much deeper ethno-nationalistic and territorial aspirations of myriad ethnic groups that are in the root of these conflicts.
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