Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju on Saturday said the Central government has identified many pockets in the northeastern states for opening up with neighbouring countries. On the Indo-China border disputes, he said the talks have been going on and stressed that India believed in friendly neighbourly relationships.
“We have identified so many pockets within northeast in India, exc ept the border with (area towards) China where we have problems, to open up with neighbouring countries,” he said at the India Today Conclave East.
Along with the infrastructural and connectivity development, the Central government has identified border trade, and relaxed “many things” along the border so that the life of people in those areas improved, he said, adding commissioning of integrated check posts and border ‘haats’ would help to open up with neighbouring country.
“Problem along the border line with China, it is not the creation during our time. This is a long-pending issue. There are talks going on and I do not want to put extra spin into that by commenting on what happens there.
“Since the Indo-China border along the McMahon line in Arunachal segment is undefined, border haats, integrated check posts and these kind of communications have been stopped since 1962. Besides, all other borders are being looked into properly,” Rijiju said.
He said India has no problems with any of the neighbouring countries “in terms of trade, political, cultural relationship and people-to-people connect”.
According to him, unless eastern India and northeast India get into a particular mode, the dream of India becoming a super power would remain unrealised.
“We had a Look East Policy and were looking at the northeast but it was lacking in action. That is why, it has been turned into Act East Policy.
“Considering the geography of the entire Southeast Asia, the northeast occupies a crucial position. Southeast Asia starts from the region but we were unable to harness the potential that we have,” he added.
He said only two per cent of the northeast is connected with the rest of the country, and the rest 98 per cent with neighbouring countries.
Responding to a query on how the government is planning to overcome strategic vulnerabilities, he said: “We are not aggressive towards anybody but we are firmed in defending our interests.”
He said: “Prime Minister has made things aptly clear that we are not too small to be cut down (bogged down) by anybody’s action and we are not kind of a power that we will intimidate our smaller neighbours. We believe everybody is equal and (also believe in) peaceful coexistence”.