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Rajdhani train to Arunachal hits roadblock

By The Assam Tribune

NEW DELHI, Sept 28 � The railways have a plan to introduce a Rajdhani Express to Arunachal Pradesh capital Itanagar but the proposal has met with opposition from the locals who had successfully resisted a train service with Assam five months ago.

As per the Railway Budget announcement, the railways are planning to connect New Delhi with Naharlagun, 15 km away from Itanagar, with a bi-weekly Rajdhani Express within this year after the necessary railway infrastructure is in place.

However, the powerful All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU) has opposed the plan maintaining that no traveller will be allowed to enter the State without the mandatory Inner Line Permit (ILP) which a non-Arunachali has to obtain from the State Government before visiting the State.

�We are ready to run the train. The tracks are ready, stations are ready, the whole system is ready. The problem is of ILP. Once the issue is resolved, we will run the train,� General Manager of North East Frontier Railway Ranjit Singh Virdi said over phone from Guwahati.

A senior Railway Ministry official said in New Delhi that efforts are on to resolve the ILP issue with the State Government. Railways are hopeful of resolving the ILP issue and a train like Rajdhani is likely to be launched this year.

�We will not allow anyone to enter Arunachal Pradesh unless he or she carries ILP. If we allow, the State will be flooded with influx which we cannot allow,� AAPSU president Kamta Lapung said over phone from Itanagar.

Lapung also made it clear that the proposal to allow passenger with a confirmed railway ticket to enter Arunachal Pradesh instead of the ILP will not be acceptable to the AAPSU. �We will oppose 100 per cent if one says that a train ticket will allow a person�s entry,� he said.

The threat from AAPSU had led to the suspension of Naharlagun-Kamakhya (Guwahati) Express train since April 2014 after running for just two weeks.

�A person entering Arunachal Pradesh should be photographed, his local address recorded and he must leave the State once the validity of the ILP is over,� he said.

ILP and Protected Area Permit (PAP) are required for non-Arunachalis entering Arunachal Pradesh, which shares border with China and Myanmar, as it comes under the restricted area category. A person entering Arunachal Pradesh is given an identity card (ILP) as per the mandatory provisions under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873.

ILPs are required by Indians other than natives of Arunachal Pradesh for entering any place in the State.

This permit is issued by the State Government offices at Delhi, Kolkata, Tezpur, Guwahati, Shillong, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur and Jorhat.

A foreigner requires PAP or Restricted Area Permit (RAP) for entering Arunachal. They can obtain the permit from all Indian Missions abroad, Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (FRRO) in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chief Immigration Officer, Chennai, Home Ministry, Delhi, and Arunachal Pradesh Home Commissioner�s office at Itanagar.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said a mechanism should be put in place so that passengers do not face inconvenience on one hand and the concern of the students on ILP is also resolved on the other.

�Once such a mechanism is in place, I do not think there will be any problem. We must encourage people from other parts of the country to visit Arunachal Pradesh,� he said. � PTI

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