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Modi Govt Failed People Of Northeast On Every Front: Congress

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NEW DELHI, April 17: The Congress on Wednesday alleged that incidents like Manipur violence and “Chinese incursions” prove that the Modi government has “failed” the people of the Northeast.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh also claimed that there has been a “chronic underutilisation of Northeast funds” and the region’s forests are under threat.

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“The Modi Sarkar has failed the people of the Northeast on every front,” he alleged in a post on X.

“Violence in Manipur, chronic underutilisation of Northeast funds, forests under threat, Chinese incursions in Arunachal Pradesh and languishing Naga peace talks,” he said.

Ramesh said that just four days after the PM claimed that “timely intervention by Centre saved Manipur,” fresh violence in Imphal district claimed two more lives.

“Although it has been dropped from the news cycle, the ‘civil war’-like situation in Manipur continues to persist. It has been more than 10 months since the conflict erupted, and contrary to what the PM would have us believe, lasting peace is still nowhere in sight,” he said.

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He pointed out that more than 200 people have been killed, more than 60,000 displaced, in Manipur and thousands of weapons have been stolen from the state police.

“BSF soldiers have been shot at, policemen have been killed, and mobs have stormed into and burned down Government offices. On March 11, Khwata Khunou, the last Meitei village in Manipur to have withstood the violence was burned to the ground,” he said.

In late March, several Kuki youths and women decided to boycott elections to the Outer Manipur Lok Sabha constituency to protest the system’s failure in ensuring their “protection, dignity, and rights,” the Congress leader said.

Ramesh alleged that chief minister Biren Singh ignored repeated calls to step down and was now violating the model code of conduct by giving speeches at purportedly “non-political” meetings to address the prevailing situation.

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Since May 3 last year, when large-scale violence broke out in Manipur, the Prime Minister has not visited the state even once, he said.

“He (Modi) has not even given an appointment to, or taken a call from, the Chief Ministers, MLAs, or any other political representatives of the state.

“In fact, he has barely even acknowledged the crisis, barring a three-minute speech that he delivered when forced to by the Opposition.

“In the meantime, Rahul Gandhi has visited the state twice to understand the situation and extend solidarity to the people of Manipur,” Ramesh said.

He also alleged that the Modi government has all along its 10-year rule allocated big budgets to the Northeast and then chronically underutilised them.

“Since 2014, the Modi government has utilised the full budget of DoNER only twice. While the UPA consistently utilised ~90% of the budget, the Modi Government’s utilisation regularly falls to just 60%,” he said.

In FY23, the DoNER budget was Rs 2,755 crore, however, in June 2023, a Controller General of Accounts report revealed that the Ministry had utilised only Rs 989 crore, just 35.9 per cent of the allocated budget, Ramesh said.

The Congress leader said that soon after the clearing of the contentious Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act (FCA) by the Parliament in August 2023 without substantive debate, both Nagaland and Mizoram assemblies passed resolutions against the implementation of the Act.

“It was met with sharp criticism because it drastically weakens safeguards against the over-exploitation of forest resources, and strips tribal communities of their Constitutional rights,” he argued.

In 1996, the Supreme Court clarified that the definition of “forest land” under the FCA extends beyond areas that have been officially recorded as forest by the government, Ramesh said.

“This was considered a historic victory for environmentalists. The amended FCA aims to nullify this historic ruling, stating that its provisions will only apply to forests that have been declared or notified as a forest, and forests recorded in government records on or after October 25, 1980,” he said.

This removes FCA protection from large tracts of forest in the Northeast where more than 50 per cent of the recorded forest areas is not notified by any law, the former environment minister said.

“Given the shapes of North Eastern states, this exemption covers the entirety of most states except Assam,” he said.

“In summary, the Modi Sarkar has declared that under its rule, the North East’s precious forests and thriving tribal communities shall be subservient to corporate interests,” he alleged.

Ramesh attacked the Modi government alleging that China has now built at least two villages, many kilometres inside Arunachal Pradesh, according to satellite images

“There have been multiple instances of PLA troops kidnapping Indian citizens on Indian soil. In fact, the BJP MP from Arunachal Pradesh alleged that the PLA had abducted 19-year-old Miram Taron for ten days in 2022,” Ramesh said.

“Since 2017, China has released at least three sets of Chinese names for places in Arunachal Pradesh. China has now released a fourth list of 30 ‘renamed’ Arunachal Pradesh places,” Ramesh said.

He also hit out at the Modi government over the Naga peace talks.

“In its 10 years in power, the Modi Sarkar has failed to gain any meaningful ground towards resolving the political crisis in Nagaland. The longer that talks languish, the more splinter groups emerge to make additional demands, further complicating an already murky issue,” he said. (PTI)

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