Guwahati/Itanagar/Gangtok/Aizawl, Aug. 15 (PTI): The 73rd Independence Day function passes off peacefully on Thursday in seven sister states as well Sikkim in the Northeast amid tight security.
Chief Ministers of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim unfurled the tricolour and took salute from marching contingents at state- level functions attended by a large number of people.
Amid heightened security arrangements in tune with the Centre’s advisory across the country after abrogation of Article 370 that accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the event took place in a peaceful environment without any untoward incident reported from anywhere in the region.
Some CMs used the occasion to allay apprehensions prevailing in some quarters if the measures taken in Kashmir (repeal of Art 370 and bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories) could have resonance in the northeastern states enjoying special status under Article 371 of the Constitution.
Some of them justified steps taken on crucial issues and also promised new welfare measures for the masses.
Even though Union Home Minister Amit Shah had clarified that the central government has no intention to touch special status enjoyed by states like Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Sikkim, Nagaland and Manipur,doubts have been expressed by some political parties and a few social organisations if NE would be the next target.
Addressing Independence day function at Itanagar, Chief Minister Pema Khandu congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his bold move in J&K, and said,” the provisions of Article 371 are inclusive in nature, but that of Article 370 are primarily divisive. The government has taken the first step towards the inclusive development of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
“I assure the people of my state that the provisions of Article 371-H will continue to stay in force and the same had been categorically assured in the Parliament by the Centre.”
Article 371 H vests the governor of Arunachal Pradesh with special responsibility with respect to the law and order siatuation. It also states that the Legislative Assembly shall consist of not less than thirty members.
Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang said “On the occasion of 73rd Independence Day celebrations, I pledge to protect, conserve and consolidate the Article 371(F) of the Constitution which provides a special status to our state.”
Tamag, better known as Golay, also said Union Home Minister Amit Shah assured him that the rights granted to the state will not be tinkered with.
In Guwahati, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal defended his government’s decision to appeal to the supreme court for sample re-verification of the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC), saying it was done to ensure an error-free document.
Sonowal also said the state government is committed to ensure safety of every genuine Indian citizen living in Assam. On July 23, the apex court had rejected the pleas of the centre and the Assam government seeking permission for 20 per cent sample re-verification. The permission had been sought to find out wrongful inclusions and exclusions of persons in the NRC, the final version of which is scheduled to be published by August 31.
He said they will soon formulate a new policy to give land rights to landless families in over 900 villages of the state.
In neighbouring Meghalaya, chief minister Conrad K Sangma hailed as “people’s victory” the Supreme Court directive to lift the NGT ban on coal mining and said the verdict has upheld indigenous people rights on land and mineral deposits.
The supreme court on July 3 set aside the ban on coal mining in Meghalaya imposed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) since April 2014, and allowed mining operations on privately and community-owned land, subject to permissions from authorities concerned.
At capital Aizawl, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga announced that the Socio-Economic Development Policy (SEDP) would be the flagship programme of the new state government elected late last year.
Zoramthanga said the SEDP would also aim at improving social life and bringing happiness and peace to the people.
“The policy will focus on increasing the Gross State Domestic Product of Mizoram, improving economic condition of the general public, creation of employment opportunities and favourable business environment and bringing in sustainable development,” he said delivering his Independence day speech.
He said cultivation and processing of bamboo would be one of the most important components of the government’s flagship programme.
Arunachal CM Pema Khandu said the cabinet committee on economic affairs has sanctioned funds for “pre-investment activities and various clearances of the 2,880-MW Dibang multi-purpose project” in the state.
Nagaland joined the nation in peaceful celebration of Independence day displaying rich tradition of the Nagas.
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) exercise is to properly identify the indigenous people of Nagaland as well as those domiciled and permanently settled in the state which will also help in the effective implementation of Inner Line Permit (ILP).
Manipur CM N. Biren Singh listed development projects of his government.