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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Bhubaneswar: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Odisha government to respond within four weeks time on an affidavit filed by the Andhra Pradesh government claiming that the latter has been holding elections in villages at Kotia in Koraput district since long.

On February 18 (Thursday) the Andhra Pradesh government had filed the affidavit claiming that it has been holding elections in the area since 1952.

The affidavit was in response to a direction by the Apex Court while hearing a contempt petition filed by the Odisha government alleging that the southern neighbour had violated status quo by grabbing villages in the bordering areas in Kotia and taking unilateral decision in holding elections recently.

Senior counsel Shibshankar Mishra who is representing the Odisha government in the Supreme Court said that the Court’s direction comes as a big respite for the State.

“We have enough documents to prove our sovereign rights over Kotia. Now we have got time to compile the documents and produce those before the court for consideration,” said Mishra.

He said Andhra is falsely claiming its right over the area. “They have submitted only four photographs in support of their claim. But we have all the documents in our favour since 1936. We have also albums full with photographs to substantiate our claim on the area,” he added.

Meanwhile, BJP leader Balabhadra Majhi said that the Parliament is the proper forum where the State government should raise the issue with documentary evidence.

“There is nothing to celebrate with the Supreme Court’s direction. Earlier the Court has stated that Parliament is the proper forum to resolve the dispute between both the states. The State government should have approached the Central government with concrete facts and documents in their support. The Centre has the power to issue the necessary orders,” stated Majhi.

Kotia dispute is a long pending border issue between Andhra Pradhesh and Odisha. Both states have been claiming their sovereign rights over the area, which consists of 27 small tribal hamlets on the border.

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