April 22, 2015 9:07:38 pm
BJP president Amit Shah’s maiden visit to the predominantly Christian state of Meghalaya on Wednesday was marred by a bandh by one rebel outfit, while another group staged a protest against the saffron party’s alleged anti-Christian attitude by singing protest songs and eating beef outside the Raj Bhavan in Shillong.
Shah, who held a series of meetings with party workers, NGOs, intellectuals and other citizens, however, preferred to keep himself restricted to talking about all-round development of the Northeast, as also exposing corruption allegedly indulged in by the Congress-run governments in the region.
The BJP president also focused on improved rail, road and air connectivity to and within the Northeastern region and called for increased trade and commerce with the neighbouring countries.
He said rapid development of the North-eastern region would not be possible unless there was significant improvement in road, rail and air connectivity to all the states. The Centre would provide adequate funds for connectivity and infrastructure in the Northeast, but one must ensure that the funds were not siphoned off, he said.
Shah particularly asked BJP party workers in Meghalaya to compile a list of instances of corruption involving the Congress-led government in the hill state and send it to every household in the form of a booklet. He also asked the party workers to tell the citizens how development funds have either remained unutilized or have been allegedly embezzled across the Northeast.
“Exposing misdeeds of the Congress-led governments in the region is very important keeping in view election to the state assemblies in Meghalaya and Assam soon,” he said. Shah, who in his first leg of Northeast visit touched Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur last week, on Wednesday visited Shillong. He is coming to Assam next Monday.
Shah said the Narendra Modi’s BJP-led government at the Centre had put up special efforts to accelerate the pace of development the Northeast. “But funds provided by the Centre to the states have not reached all the targeted citizens. Had the funds reached the people properly, there would not have been poverty in the country. This is true for the Northeast also,” the BJP president said.
Bandh, Beef protests
Even as the BJP president held meetings in the convention centre in the Hotel Pine Wood complex in Shillong, normal life in the Meghalaya capital was affected by a 12-hour bandh called by the banned armed group – Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC). The outfit called the bandh to protest alleged atrocities on minorities including Christians by the sangh parivar and alleged that the proposed ban on cow slaughter by some BJP functionaries would render jobless thousands of tribal people apart from hurting their religious sentiments.
Members of another organization called Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR) on the other hand protested Amit Shah’s visit by holding a protest party. The demonstrators sang protest songs, distributed beef and displayed placards demanding arrest of the BJP president for allegedly inciting attack and atrocities on minorities. Police, however, prevented the TUR protestors from reaching the venue where Shah was addressing party workers following which they organized their “beef lunch party” in front of the Raj Bhavan.
TUR convenor Angela Rangad said they protested against Amit Shah’s visit because they believed he and his party were anti-tribal, attacked freedom of culture, religion and faith through ban on beef, and vandalized churches and mosques. The group also demanded repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, making school curriculum secular, putting a stop to uranium mining in Meghalaya, and preventing weakening of the RTI Act.
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