The Telegraph
Saturday , January 4 , 2014
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Rhino in the room: the Northeast

New Delhi, Jan. 3: If security and development in the Northeast was the elephant in the room, it was rubbing shoulders with the rhino.

Not much was forthcoming on the region or the pachyderm at the Prime Minister’s news conference.

“The rhino is a national asset,” Manmohan Singh said when a reporter cited rhino poaching in Assam, where 41 were killed last year and 22 in 2012. “Every effort should be made, and will be made, to protect this precious animal.”

If the answer fell short of expectations, neither did the Rajya Sabha member from Assam elaborate on what his government had done for the Northeast over the past decade.

“The Prime Minister has said nothing on security,” diplomat-turned-BJP member Hardeep Puri said.

Singh conceded that infrastructure projects in the Northeast had hit hurdles. When a reporter suggested the Centre used the difficult terrain as an excuse, Singh said: “I think fencing (of the Bangladesh border) and some of these other projects have been facing some difficulties because of difficulties of terrain. There is no doubt about that.”