NEW DELHI : The annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe scheduled from December 15-17 in Guwahati has been cancelled in the wake of massive protests rocking the Assam capital city over the amended citizenship law.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said both India and Japan have decided to “defer” Abe’s visit for the summit to a mutually convenient date.
“With reference to the proposed visit of Japanese PM Abe to India, both sides have decided to defer the visit to a mutually convenient date in the near future,” he said in response to a query on the summit.
Assam reeled under violent protests over the newly amended law which provides for granting citizenship to non-Muslim persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday while the Rajya Sabha cleared it on Wednesday. It became law after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to it on Thursday.
Diplomatic sources said the Japanese government has clearly conveyed to New Delhi that it would not be possible for Abe to travel to Guwahati in view of large scale protests in the northeastern city.
They said the summit is now expected to take place next year.
The MEA last week announced the dates for Abe’s visit but did not mention the venue. However, preparations were in full swing in Guwahati for the high-profile summit.
At least two persons died due to bullet injuries on Thursday after police opened fire on protesters in Guwahati. On Wednesday, protesters pulled down hoardings erected in central Guwahati to welcome Abe.
Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and parts of Arunachal Pradesh have been witnessing large-scale protests in the last two days with thousands of people hitting the streets defying prohibitory orders to demand scrapping of the contentious law.
Sources said a Japanese team visited Guwahati on Wednesday to take stock of the preparations following which Tokyo clearly conveyed to the MEA that Abe’s visit cannot go ahead under current circumstances.
Last year, Japan hosted the summit in picturesque Yamanashi prefecture during which both sides had resolved to significantly expand bilateral cooperation in a range of areas.
Reflecting growing congruence in bilateral ties, the two countries held their inaugural foreign and defence ministerial dialogue two weeks back which prepared the ground for the Modi-Abe summit.
The Indo-Japan defence and foreign ministerial dialogue took place following a decision taken by Modi and Abe during last year’s annual summit.