Article 371 of the Indian Constitution is a special provision which will not be altered by the BJP-led NDA government, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said Sunday.
Addressing the 68th plenary session of the North East Council in Guwahati, Assam, Shah said that while Article 370 was temporary in nature, Article 371 is about special provisions in the North East.
“After the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, there were attempts to misinform and misguide the people of North East that Article 371 would also be scrapped by the Centre,” PTI quoted Shah as saying. “I think it is important to clarify the difference between the two. Let me make it clear that the Prime Minister and the BJP government respects Article 371 and 371 (A),” he said.
“I have clarified in Parliament that this is not going to happen and I am saying it again today in the presence of eight chief ministers of North East that the Centre will not touch Article 371”, Shah added.
The government has asserted it has no intention of removing Article 371 of the Constitution, which includes “special provisions” for 11 states, including six states of the Northeast.
Fears over its removal surfaced after the government revoked the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated the state into two union territories.
Articles 370 and 371 have been part of the Constitution from the time it was adopted on January 26, 1950. Articles 371A-H and 371J, however, were incorporated into the Constitution by Parliament through amendments under Article 368. This Article describes the “power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and procedure therefore”.
The special provisions laid down in Article 370 (before it was modified by the Presidential Order of August 5, 2019) were, however, much more farreaching than the special provisions for other states, described in Articles 371, 371A-H, and 371J.
The reason for this is the unique circumstances in which Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India, and the specific guarantees that the Government of India gave to the state during the negotiations at the time.
On the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Home Minister said, “Questions are being raised about the NRC by
different sections but today I just want to say this that the BJP-led government is committed to ensure that not a single illegal immigrant enters the region.” The NRC has also been completed within the stipulated time-frame, he added.
Shah’s visit comes just days after the publication of the final NRC in the state on August 31. Pointing out that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi there has been a “drastic decline” in terrorism and militant activities, Shah said, “I do not want to quote statistics but the entire country and the world knows that we have been able to control it.”
The miguided people who take up arms are “our own but are tools in the hands of vested foreign forces”, he said. He further pointed out that border dispute between the different states of the Northeast is a major issue which must end.
“If Indo-Bangla border dispute can be resolved, why not disputes among our states in the region? Rise above border disputes and support each other, so that the region can develop together,” Shah added. “Modiji has given top priority to the development of the Northeast and he was the first Prime Minister in 40 years to attend a NEC meeting at Shillong”, he said.
“No Congress Prime Minister had attended a NEC meeting and though I do not want to make a political statement but among all the eight Chief Ministers present at the meeting today, none are from the Congress but all are North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) constituents”, Shah said.
(Inputs from PTI)