Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was in Aizawl on a day-long tour on Saturday, said that Mizoram stands as a symbol of peace and fraternity.  Shah inaugurated the North East Handloom and Handicraft Exhibition in Aizawl and said that the handicrafts can play a pioneering role in the development of the region.

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“Once affected by insurgency and separatism, today Mizoram stands as a symbol of peace and fraternity and is giving this message to the whole World,” Shah said expressing his happiness to visit one of the most beautiful states in India and also called it an important representative of Indian democracy.

He said that this is the first handloom and handicraft exhibition being organised in the Northeast region.

“Handloom holds the capability to generate huge employment opportunities in the Northeast and play an important role in the growth and development of the people. During the first Narendra Modi government, bamboo was taken out of the list of trees that were prohibited for felling due to environmental concerns. With this decision, the availability of bamboo has been increased to facilitate the handicrafts sector by the government. The region that would benefit the most would be the Northeast,” Shah said.

In Mizoram, in the last five years, a number of developmental projects have been initiated which include 60 MW Tuirial hydro power project. The home minister also expressed confidence that by 2021, Aizawl would be connected by broadgauge railways. The Kaladan multi modal waterway and establishing of new border hats would bring huge opportunities of trade and commerce to Mizoram. Other initiatives that have been initiated in Aizawl are Greater Aizawl water project, state referral hospital, state sports academy, horticulture colleges and a cricket stadium, he added.

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Drawing a comparison with the previous government, Shah said that Mizoram received over Rs 19,970 crores during 13th Finance Commission (FC), whereas, during the 14th FC, over Rs 42, 970 crores have been spent by the Modi government for Mizoram’s development.

Earlier in the day, several organizations staged protest on his visit against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) which endorses citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from the neighbouring countries.

People stood on the road holding placards against the controversial bill in different places of the state.

Peoples Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM) Party and Mizoram Peoples Conference (MPC) office bearers including their party presidents also joined the protests. They also submitted memorandum to plead exemption of Mizoram and other Northeast states from the CAB. They also plan to have street demonstration.

Vanlalruata, PRISM party president said, “We have always been demanding that the Mizoram and other Northeast states should be left out of the CAB. They (BJP) must exempt us. We will continue our opposition and protest till our demands are met”.

Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 was already passed in the Lok Sabha but it couldn’t be tabled in the upper house due to the huge protests especially from the Northeast states.

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“I asked for a special clause in the CAB to check adverse impact of the CAB on the indigenous people of Mizoram and NE,” Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga said. He, however, didn’t elaborate much.

Shah has assured more provisions on the existing Inner Line Permit (ILP) for the safety of the Mizo people. ILP is a special permission to be granted by the Indians visiting the states of Mizoram, Nagaland (except Dimapur) and Arunachal Pradesh.

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Abdul Gani is a Guwahati-based journalist


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