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‘NE prisoner within its own frontiers’
Correspondent SHILLONG, NOV 8:
Published on 9 Nov. 2008 12:58 AM IST
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Terming the land-locked North Eastern Region as “prisoner within its own frontiers”, Union DoNER Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar today urged the seven sister states to break the shackles in terms of trade relations with neighbouring countries including Bangladesh, China and Myanmar. By 2009, the North Eastern States could actively involve in trade collaboration with Bangladesh with both New Delhi and Dhaka coming out the of the era of protectionism, Aiyar said, addressing a seminar on ‘Development of Border Trade in North East India to enhance National Security’ organized by the Border Security Force. Once the general elections were held and a democratically elected government installed in the neighbouring country, Aiyar said the DoNER ministry would depute a delegation comprising all eight chief ministers and local entrepreneurs of the North Eastern states to Dhaka. “The chief ministers of the region should be actively involved in formulation of the foreign policy of the country vis-à-vis Bangladesh,” he said. Underscoring the need for a “very dynamic” economic relationship between the North Eastern states and their “natural economic hinterland Bangladesh”, the Union minister said, “put into perspective, the nature of the problem is partly political and partly economic”. Pointing out that Dhaka too needed to positively respond to the idea of re-opening border trade, Aiyar said “So long as the other hand is unwilling to clap its impossible to applaud!” “The Look East Policy has only benefited Western and Southern India and has brought zero dividends for the N-E,” he said but was quick to add that the Centre now appeared to be ready to allow the N-E States and the DoNER to take steps in reviving the age-old trade relations with Bangladesh. Meghalaya chief minister Donkupar Roy emphasized on re-opening of the age-old border ‘haats’ along the Indo-Bangla border even as he maintained that with proper monitoring, cross-border infiltration could also be checked. “We need to be in close contact with Bangladesh and there should be more co-ordination between the border people and the BSF,” Roy said. Inspector General of BSF (Assam-Meghalaya-Nagaland Frontier) P K Mishra said “to integrate the border with the mainland, economic and infrastructure development of the border areas must be done.” “The problem of border management is not just one of securing the borders but doing so without causing harm to the economic interest of the people, long dependent on mutual trade and various other forms of interdependence,” he said. PTI adds: “Certain authorities” in Bangladesh are backing Indian rebel groups sheltering in that country and there was urgent need to impress upon them that by doing so nothing would be gained, Union Minister for DoNER Mani Shankar Aiyar said here today. “Certain authorities of Bangladesh are encouraging activities that are detrimental to India,” Aiyar told mediapersons here. It was also necessary to impress upon Bangladesh to admit that there were anti-India groups on its soil which were not doing any good to them, he said, adding that the situation could be improved if relations between the two countries are moulded. Aiyar, however, said the insurgency problem was “home grown”. “The insurgents grow here and when they are hemmed in they tend to cross the border.” Describing the recent blasts at Agartala and Assam as episodic, the Union Minister said, “It would have been a cause of worry had there been a systematic deterioration of the situation.” He asserted that the northeast was still secure and claimed that the insurgency problem in the region has shown a tangible improvement over the years. “The northeast, barring Manipur, is a secure place for people to come and companies to invest.” Even in Manipur, the gross state product rate is as high as 11.4 per cent, the highest in the NE, and can be compared to that of China, he claimed. “Of course, the disturbing elements have to be tackled and the Centre is taking measures towards that end,” he said.

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