Amit Shah allays fears in northeast about Article 371

NDA govt. committed to preserving the unique cultures and traditions of the region, he says

February 20, 2020 05:35 pm | Updated 05:38 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Union Home Minister Amit Shah being greeted by locals as he arrives to attend the 34th Statehood Day of Arunachal Pradesh, in Lakhimpur Kheri district, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah being greeted by locals as he arrives to attend the 34th Statehood Day of Arunachal Pradesh, in Lakhimpur Kheri district, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday allayed fears in the northeast about Article 371 meeting the same fate as Article 370 while addressing a public rally at the 34th Statehood Day celebrations in Itanagar.

His visit was marked by protests in Arunachal Pradesh and China, which claims the State as part of southern Tibet. Students of the Rajiv Gandhi University led the protest related to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) at Mithun Gate, less than a kilometre from Itanagar’s Indira Gandhi Park where the Statehood Day was held.

Also read : A snapshot of Article 371

“Misinformation was spread after the abrogation of Article 370 that Article 371 will also be scrapped… It will never happen and nobody can do it ,” Mr. Shah said, asserting that the NDA government was committed to preserving and protecting the unique cultures and traditions of the northeast inhabited by various ethnic groups.

While Article 370 had special provisions for Jammu and Kashmir, Articles 371-A to 371-J have certain provisions for Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh besides Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Karnataka.

Mr. Shah said the northeast was only geographically connected to the rest of India till 2014 when the BJP-led NDA government began to integrate the region emotionally.

“The region used to get importance earlier only on political grounds but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has changed the trend with efforts to unite it with the rest of the country,” he said, giving a count of the number of visits by the PM and the Central Ministers to the region to drive home his point.

“The Modi government wants the entire northeast to be free of militancy, inter-State boundary conflicts, law and order, drug menace and other problems. When we seek votes in 2024, the northeast will have been free from all problems,” the Home Minister said.

He cited the example of the Bodo Peace Accord, signed on January 27 , to underline the Central government’s efforts to restoring peace in the region. He also reminded of the hike in funding for the northeast’s development from ₹83,000 crore in the past to ₹3,13,375 crore now.

Mr. Shah referred to major projects such as the 2,000-km Arunachal Frontier Highway while referring to the Centre’s attention on Arunachal Pradesh where road projects worth ₹50,000 crore were sanctioned within five years. He lauded Chief Minister Pema Khandu for his development initiatives and the war against corruption.

China had earlier objected to Mr. Shah’s visit saying his trip violated Beijing’s “territorial sovereignty and sabotaged political mutual trust”. Beijing routinely protests the visit of any Indian leader to Arunachal Pradesh to highlight its claim over the State.

Mr. Shah also faced protests in Itanagar, though security forces kept the protesters off the main route. “Many students and locals nevertheless gathered to voice their anger at the egocentric decision of implementing the CAA and violent crackdowns on anti-CAA protesters across universities,” Kumar Rai, general secretary of the Rajiv Gandhi University Students’ Union told The Hindu from the university at Doimukh near Itanagar.

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