Previous governments had adopted a “defeatist” attitude by not constructing roads in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh as they felt Chinese forces could use them, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said today.
Speaking ad lib at a conference on ‘Homeland Security, Smart Border Management’ organised by FICCI here, the Minister of State for Home Affairs claimed an “unwritten” policy of the governments of the past was not to develop border areas.
He cited a statement made by L K Advani during a visit to Arunachal Pradesh when he was the deputy prime minister that India was making a “huge blunder” by neglecting its borders.
“I am talking about pre-1998. Our deputy prime minister L K Advani came to Arunachal Pradesh. He made a very important statement at Itanagar. He said India has committed a ‘huge blunder’ by neglecting its border,” Rijiju, who hails from the northeastern state, said.
“Because the policy (previously) was don’t construct roads in Arunachal Pradesh. If you develop roads the Chinese will come and use them in the time of crisis. That means you are a defeatist, you have a defeatist mindset. In Ladakh, don’t construct good roads along the border because they may use it. So to protect our territory leave it underdeveloped… What kind of policy we had in India. Terrible!” he said.
“So, when Advani ji came he said it is very, very regrettable that this was the policy of the country,” Rijiju said, adding people in border areas crave for development.
He mentioned that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had initiated Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna in far-flung areas of Arunachal Pradesh and quoted him as saying “it takes will power and not money to work for development”.
Noting that border guarding is a challenging task, the minister said, “We have done a commendable job in managing our borders successfully. There were one or two incidents like Kargil but by and large we have managed our borders or at least made it look like we have successfully managed our borders. The government whoever is there.”