Logistics, Significance as Venue: Why Shinzo Abe Delayed Assam Visit Over Citizenship Act Unrest

CNN-News18

New Delhi: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India for the annual summit between the countries has been postponed due to the unrest in Assam, specifically in Guwahati, over the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Sources told News18 that the dates will be reworked as this is an annual summit and has to be held at some stage.

They added that security and logistical concerns were raised by the Japanese side as it was getting difficult for teams to reach Guwahati due to cancellation of flights to Assam. Those who had reached Guwahati were unable to access venues and hotels due to unrest in the city, they said.

Though shifting the venue to Delhi was discussed, it was ruled out for two reasons. First, logistics for the visiting team and pre-visit security recce and other aspects need to factor in the comfort of the visiting delegation for which time was very limited.

Second, the idea behind choosing Guwahati was to further the purpose of "Act East" policy and in consonance with the India-Japan Act East Forum that came into being in 2017 when Abe last visited India for the annual summit.

The forum was to identify specific projects for economic modernisation of India’s Northeast region, including those pertaining to connectivity, developmental infrastructure, industrial linkages as well as people-to-people contact through tourism, culture and sports-related activities, a statement in December 2017 at the launch of the forum read. Specific announcement related to the Northeast was expected at the summit as Guwahati is seen as the gateway to the East. The message would stand lost with shifting of venue, officials felt.

Both sides are yet to officially make an announcement of the postponement or rescheduling of the summit. Till Thursday evening, the MEA had said they had nothing new to share on the status of the visit venue, Guwahati, but indicated it could be moved out.