Silchar: A recent statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the export of leather products from Assam’s Hailakandi district has left a large section of people “scratching their heads” since the district has no such industry or any such manufacturing facility. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the statement in the 87th edition of the Mann Ki Baat radio broadcast programme. Expressing happiness over the increase in exports of Indian items, the Prime Minister said that new products from all corners of the country are reaching foreign shores and mentioned Assam’s Hailakandi, saying leather goods from the district are being exported.

Talking to EastMojo on Thursday, the general secretary of District Industries Centre (DIC), Hailakandi, S. Nath said, “There is no official record of any leather industry in Hailakandi district.”

“Maybe some traders/businessmen export leather in secret ways, but it cannot be considered as an export by the government as there has to be an official validation,” Nath stated. 

He refrained from saying anything further on the matter.

Karimganj North Congress MLA and working president of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha termed Modi’s statement “hilarious” and criticised the Prime Minister, saying he had “fooled people” with the “false statement.”

APCC secretary Sanjeev Roy said the BJP is full of “liars” and all they (BJP leaders) know is to “delude” people with misleading and fake statements.

Roy claimed: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in the past claimed that China did not capture India’s lands illegally, whereas, in reality, the neighbouring country had built a village in a disputed area near the Indo-China international border in Arunachal Pradesh.”

“Modi, through his remarks on the export of leather goods from Hailakandi district, has spoken another lie,” he added.

Assam Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) chairman and former (four-time) BJP legislator of Karimganj North assembly constituency Mission Ranjan Das said, “He does not have much idea whether there is any industry in Hailakandi district.”

He suspected that there were some “data-related errors,” due to which the Prime Minister might have mistakenly taken the name of Hailakandi district in his statement.

The president of the BJP, Hailakandi district committee, Swapan Bhattacharjee said, “He was not aware of any facts/information about the topic, and thus he cannot comment anything about it.”

When asked if there is any leather industry in Hailakandi district, deputy commissioner Rohan Kumar Jha told EastMojo on Thursday morning that “he was checking the matter”. He did not respond to messages sent later to know about further updates.

Posts related to the matter have surfaced on social media, where netizens expressed their surprise and raised questions about the authenticity of the Prime Minister’s statement. A section of people also raised questions on the credibility of the Prime Minister’s team that provided the data/information about the export of leather items from Hailakandi district.

Hailakandi, which comes under Karimganj Lok Sabha constituency, is one of the three districts in southern Assam’s Barak Valley. It was constituted as a civil sub-division on June 1, 1869. It was upgraded to a district in 1989 when it was split from Cachar district. In 2006, the Indian government had named Hailakandi as one of the country’s 250 most backward districts (out of a total of 640).

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