Agartala/Guwahati, Aug 15:
Braving incessant rain and a boycott call by militants, the northeastern states Friday celebrated Independence Day with great zeal and enthusiasm.
Several militant groups had issued a joint statement that “A general strike would be observed from midnight of Thursday to wee hours of Saturday in the entire northeastern region.”
The statement urged the people to boycott the Independence Day celebrations.
Issues like development, militancy and the economy dominated the Independence Day speeches of chief ministers of the northeastern states.
They urged the militants to shun violence and help in the development of the mountainous region.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi urged militant groups to return to the mainstream by giving up arms.
“Violence cannot solve any problem. So, I appeal to all the militants to shun the path of violence,” Gogoi said while delivering his Independence Day speech amid incessant rain at the Veterinary College playground in Guwahati.
At the same time, he warned the militants that they will be dealt with severely if they do not stop the violence.
Referring to the border dispute between Assam and Nagaland, Gogoi said peace was needed to solve any dispute.
“I personally urged Home Minister Rajnath Singh, seeking his initiative to end the problem.”
The chief minister said: “The situation in Assam has been changing since 2001. The frustration among the people has been replaced with hope. The state was in a financial mess when my government took over. We have stressed on the creation of employment and increasing per capita income.”
In Agartala, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said communal violence has increased after the Narendra Modi government assumed power at the centre.
“At least 30 incidents of communal violence have taken place in seven states after the government assumed office in May,” Sarkar said after unfurling the Tricolour at the Assam Rifles ground.
He said people, especially Muslims in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra were among the worst victims of communal violence in recent months.
He accused the central government of following all the policies of the previous Congress government. “Price rise and inflation remain unchecked.”
Demanding more power to the states, Sarkar, a politburo member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, urged the central government to suitably amend the Essential Commodities Act (ECA).
Without sweeping changes in the ECA including a ban on the hoarding of essential foodstuff like onions, potatoes and grains, the actual “food security” of the people could not be ensured, he said.
In Aizawl, Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla said the state has attained success in achieving economic, educational and societal empowerment of the people.
“The Mizoram government has achieved success in economic, educational and societal empowerment of people,” he said.
“The state government has achieved huge success in implementation of its flagship programme – New Land Use Policy (NLUP) – to remove the age old ‘Jhum’ cultivation (slash and burn method of cultivation),” Lal Thanhawla said.
In Imphal, Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh urged the extremists to lay down arms and participate in the development programmes undertaken by the government for the welfare of the people.
Unfurling the national flag at the Parade Ground of first Manipur Rifles Battalion, he said: “In a democratic country like India, everything can be discussed through dialogue and violence will not bring any solution.”
Independence Day was celebrated in militancy devastated Manipur amid tight security in view of a ‘general strike’ called by major insurgent groups.
In Shillong, Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma appealed to the militants to shun violence and promised steps to check illegal immigration from Bangladesh.
Sangma made the appeal at the main Independence Day celebration attended by thousands of people despite rain and boycott calls by militants.
“I call upon all the misguided youth (militants) waging war against the nation and our own people to realize the futility of violence,” he said in his speech.
He urged them to take advantage of the government’s offer to come overground and avail of the rehabilitation package.
“Violence has never been an option for providing any solution to grievances,” Sangma said. “There is no issue that does not lend itself to solution through meaningful engagement and reconciliation.”
In Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki urged people to stand united and join hands to fight anti-social elements who had been trying to ‘dislodge the social fabric’ of the state.
Unfurling the national flag at Indira Gandhi Park in Itanagar, Tuki exhorted the people of the state to become partners in the state’s journey towards development.
“We must strive to promote a pan Arunachal image even while deriving strength from past heritage of each individual tribe,” he added.