KIBITHOO, Apr 10: The era when anyone could encroach India's borderlands has passed and no one can dare cast an evil eye on its territorial integrity, Union home minister Amit Shah said here on Monday.
Launching the 'Vibrant Village' programme in the border village of Kibithoo in Arunachal Pradesh, one of India's easternmost places, Shah said the valour of the Army and ITBP personnel ensures that no one can encroach even an inch of India's land.
He said border areas are the top priority of the Modi government, pointing to the infrastructure and other development works carried out by his government in the Northeast.
"The era is gone when anyone could encroach on our lands. Now, not even land equal to 'sui ki noke' (inch of land) can be encroached...," the minister said.
He said no one can cast an evil eye on India because of the security forces who protect the country's frontiers.
"In 1962, whoever came to encroach this land had to return because of the patriotic people living here," Shah said.
He called this frontier location the "first village of India" and not the last, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has brought about a "conceptual" policy change to develop these areas and help the locals living here by providing basic amenities to them.
Earlier, people who returned from border areas used to say that they visited the last village of India but the Modi government has changed this narrative with people now saying that they visited the first village of India, Shah said.
"Before 2014, the entire Northeastern region was seen as a disturbed area but because of the Look East policy, it is now known for its prosperity and development," Shah said.
Paying homage to the martyrs of Kibithoo who laid down their lives during the 1962 war, Shah said they fought with indomitable spirit despite the lack of resources.
Shah said no one says 'Namaste' in Arunachal Pradesh as people greet each other with 'Jai Hind' that "fills our hearts with patriotism".
"It is because of this attitude of the Arunachalis that China which had come to occupy it had to retreat," Shah said.
The minister said the 'Vibrant Village' scheme envisages that tap water, electricity, cooking gas, financial inclusion, digital and physical connectivity and employment opportunities are available in the remote border areas.
He said the government has set a three-year target for making available such facilities in these regions.
This scheme has a three-pronged aim as this will ensure the personal development of individuals, provide basic facilities and employment avenues so that they do not desert the border villages for better opportunities in the mainland and provide facilities of basic infrastructure, electricity and health, Shah said.
The minister said enhanced facilities for border guarding troops of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Army will also be provided.
"Our policy is that no one can challenge the honour of our borders and our forces," he said.
Speaking about the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Shah said the law was removed from about 70 per cent of the Northeastern states and the day "is not far" when it will be "entirely" lifted from these areas. PTI