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Purno urges Modi to curb influx

- NPP leader pushes for multipurpose ID cards to ‘true citizens’

Shillong, June 1: Veteran parliamentarian Purno Agitok Sangma has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to issue multipurpose identity cards to Indian citizens as a mechanism to check infiltration to the Northeast.

Sangma, who is also the National People’s Party (NPP) chief, met Modi at 7 Race Course Road on Friday.

“Attempt to stop and solve the problem of infiltration of migrants from across the border by identification and deportation as agreed upon by the Assam Accord has totally failed,” Sangma said.

The Tura MP opined that instead of identification of the foreigners, the government should identify “true Indian citizens”, and issue multipurpose identity cards within six months.

“After which, those who could not prove their citizenship should be deported. This process will also stop the harassment of genuine citizens,” he said.

Calling for the scrapping of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, Sangma noted that in spite of various measures undertaken by successive governments, the insurgency problem still remains in the Northeast.

Stating that the approach should now be “development for peace” instead of “peace for development”, the veteran politician said the insurgency problem was connected to the lack of development and employment avenues.

Expressing concern over the reported construction of dams in the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra by China, he said the mighty river was the lifeline of the region, and any attempt to interfere with its natural flow should be considered “an act of aggression”.

On the problems faced by students from the Northeast in New Delhi and other cities, he said the students really feel “insecure and discriminated against”. He, therefore, urged the Prime Minister to call a meeting of the parliamentarians from the region to discuss the issue.

Touching upon the Look East Policy, Sangma expressed disappointment that the same has not been implemented in “true spirit”.

“We want the Indian portion of the Stillwell Road to be rebuilt. The Northeast should become the hub of the policy, and that this objective can be achieved by strengthening infrastructure and road connectivity,” he added.

He suggested that the Guwahati to Calcutta route via Garo hills and Bangladesh, which would save over 700km from the current route via Siliguri, could be taken up.

Sangma pointed out that a road connecting the Northeast and countries of Southeast Asia could be considered.

He also stressed on strengthening economic ties and activities along the border by setting up industrial units and border haats on both sides.

“India should also look south wherein huge economic possibilities lie for the region. The Northeast shares 98 per cent of its borders with other countries, which sometimes is perceived as a threat. But there also lies an opportunity,” he added.

Touching upon the North Eastern Council (NEC) and the DoNER ministry, he said these bodies have merely become “funding agencies” to the states.

“These agencies should actually become agents of change and also focus on policy-related issues and planning for the region. Their powers and functions should be reviewed without delay,” Sangma said.