Guwahati, September 8: On his first visit to Assam following the publication of National Register Citizen (NRC) final list, Union Home Minister Amit Shah attempted to assuage apprehensions among the heads of North Eastern states, assuring them that status quo will remain on Article 371. Voices of concern had emerged from the region last month, after the Centre abrogated Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir, ending the special status accorded to the permanent residents of the state.
Shah, while addressing the 68th Plenary Session of North Eastern Council, said Article 371 should not be compared to Article 370. The former, he said, would remain intact in the Indian Constitution. The government is committed to protect and uphold it, he added.
"Article 371 of the Indian Constitution is a special provision. BJP government respects Article 371 and will not alter it in any way," the Home Minister said.
Update by ANI:
Union Home Minister Amit Shah at the 68th Plenary Session of North Eastern Council, in Guwahati: Article 371 of the Indian Constitution is a special provision. BJP government respects Article 371 & will not alter it in any way. #Assam pic.twitter.com/Bkbn6824Wf
— ANI (@ANI) September 8, 2019
Notably, Article 371 accords special status to a clutch of northeastern states, including Assam, Sikkim, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. Provisions of the law prevent outsiders from permanently setting in the state (or in parts of the state) and buying properties. Aimed at protecting the region's demography, the law is considered similar to the now-repealed Article 370.
Meanwhile, Shah's visit also comes in the backdrop of the release of final NRC list. Published on August 31, it ended up excluding over 19 lakh people from the list of Indian citizens in Assam. The final list has, however, satisfied none among the stakeholders, with the All Assam Students Union (AASU) expressing dissatisfaction over the "low amount" of "illegal migrants" identified, whereas, the All Assam Minority Students Union (AAMSU) alleging that several among the legitly settled citizens have been excluded.