New Delhi/Beijing/Kibithoo (Arunachal): Union home minister Amit Shah on Monday said that the era when anyone could encroach on India’s border lands has passed, and “no one can dare cast an evil eye on its territorial integrity”.
Speaking at the launch of the “Vibrant Village” programme at the border village of Kibithoo in Arunachal Pradesh, one of India’s easternmost places, he said the valour of the Army and ITBP personnel ensures that no one can encroach on even an inch of India’s land.
“The era is gone when anyone could encroach on our lands. Now, not even land equal to ‘sui ki noke’ (inch of land) can be encroached,” the minister asserted.
He said no one can cast an evil eye on India because of the security forces who protect the country’s frontiers. “In 1962, whoever came to encroach this land had to return because of the patriotic people living here,” Shah noted.
Calling this frontier location the “first village of India” and not the “last”, he further said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had brought about a “conceptual” policy change to develop these areas and help the locals living here by providing basic amenities to them. He also announced that he would be staying in Kibithoo village Monday night.
Saying that the border areas were the top priority of the Modi government, he pointed to the infrastructure and other development work carried out by his government in the Northeast.
Meanwhile, China on Monday criticised home minister Amit Shah’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, stating that this violated “Chinese sovereignty” over the area, just days after India hit back at Beijing’s move to rename some places in the border state in an attempt to stake its claim over the area.
Responding to a question on Shah’s visit, Chinese foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said: “Zangnan (the Chinese name for Arunachal Pradesh) is China’s territory”.
“Indian officials’ activities in this area violate China’s sovereignty and (are) not conducive to peace and tranquility in the border regions. We firmly oppose it,” he said at a media briefing in Beijing.
Shah said that earlier, people who returned from border areas used to say that they visited the “last village” of India, but the Modi government had changed this narrative with people now saying they visited the “first village of India”, the home minister said.
“Before 2014, the entire Northeast region was seen as a disturbed area but because of the Look East policy, it is now known for its prosperity and development,” Shah said.
Paying homage to the martyrs of Kibithoo who laid down their lives in the 1962 war, the Union home minister said they fought with indomitable spirit despite lack of resources.
He also said no one says “Namaste” in Arunachal Pradesh as people greet each other with “Jai Hind” that “fills our hearts with patriotism”. He added: “It is because of this attitude of the Arunachalis that China, which had come to occupy it, had to retreat.”
The minister said the “Vibrant Village” scheme envisages that tap water, electricity, cooking gas, financial inclusion, digital and physical connectivity and job opportunities are available in remote border areas. He said the government has set a three-year target for making available such facilities in these regions.
Last week, China announced renaming of 11 more places in Arunachal Pradesh in Chinese, that it claims as “Southern Tibet”, evoking a sharp reaction from India. “We have seen such reports. This is not the first time China has made such an attempt. We reject this outright,” MEA spokesman Arindam Bagchi said in New Delhi.
The Vibrant Village Programme has a three-pronged aim as this will ensure the personal development of individuals, provide basic facilities and employment avenues so they do not desert the border villages for better opportunities in the mainland and provide facilities of basic infrastructure, electricity and health, Shah said.
The minister said enhanced facilities for border guarding troops of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Army will also be provided. “Our policy is that no one can challenge the honour of our borders and our forces,” he said.
Speaking about the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the home minister said the law was removed from about 70 per cent of the Northeast and the day “is not far” when it will be “entirely” lifted from these areas.