Amit Shah in Arunachal: N-E special status will stay

Amit Shah, Amit Shah on article 371, North-East special status, amit shah in arunachal pradesh, north east news

Union Home Minister Amit Shah with Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu during the 34th Statehood Day celebrations, in Itanagar on Thursday. (PTI)

HOME MINISTER Amit Shah Thursday assured the North-East that Article 371, the Constitutional provision that grants special status to some states, “will never” be abrogated. The provision is aimed at protecting the ethnic and cultural rights of tribals.

Speaking in Itanagar Thursday during an event to commemorate the foundation day of Arunachal Pradesh, Shah said: “I want to assure Arunachal Pradesh that it is the duty of our government to protect the rights, traditions and culture of the 27 castes and 120 tribes of the state. In August last year, when Narendra Modi took the decision to abrogate Article 370 in Kashmir, rumours were spread in the North-East that Article 371 would also be removed. On the occasion of the foundation day of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram, I want to tell the North-East that no one can remove Article 371, nor does anyone harbour such intentions. Those who want to create differences between India and the North-East through these rumours will never be successful.”

Apart from Arunachal, the states in the region covered under the provision include Nagaland, Assam, Mizoram, Manipur and Sikkim.

“Without the cultural prosperity of the North-East tribes, Indian culture is not only incomplete but also handicapped. Before 2014, the North-East was connected to India only administratively and geographically. But now, it is also integrated with India culturally. Now, there is no difference between the North-East and India,” he said.

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“All Indians believe that the progress of the North-East and the welfare of its people is the responsibility of the entire country. And the entire North-East today believes that security of the borders and acknowledgement of Indianness is the responsibility of the North-East,” he said.

Shah went on to attack previous governments for failing to reach out to the region.

“The region was just used to take MPs to Delhi to help form governments. Under the Narendra Modi government, initiatives have been taken to rid the North-East of its problems, to develop it, to make it an impenetrable wall of the border and to make its culture a beautiful part of Indian culture,” he said.

“In just five years, this process of integration has surged ahead. When PM Narendra Modi took charge, he decided that a Union minister will visit the North-East every 15 days. Before I arrived here, as many as 200 ministers have visited Arunachal. The PM himself has toured 30 times...” he said.

The Home Minister said that through the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh, the Bru-Reang agreement and the Bodo Accord, the government had solved many problems. He announced that by 2020-21, all North-East capitals would be connected by road and air.

Shah also inaugurated a slew of projects and schemes for the state, including the launch of the Arunachal Pradesh Industrial and Investment Policy 2020 and laying of foundation stone for the police headquarters at Itanagar, among others.

Talking about the government’s efforts to bring a lasting solution to the problems of the North-East, he said that before the Modi government came to power, the region was identified by insurgency, extremism, separatism, blockades, corruption, ethnical tensions, drugs and arms trafficking.

“The region is now famous in the whole world for its infrastructure development, connectivity, boost to sports, Act East policy and organic farming,” he said.

The Home Minister said that under the Modi government, the developmental budget allocation for the North-East in the latest Finance Commission (FC) saw a sharp rise of over 200 per cent from the previous panel.