In a TV debate uploaded to TV9 Bharatvarsh’s YouTube channel on July 22, BJP’s national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla claimed that in the eight years before the NDA came to power under Narendra Modi, more than 8,000 people had died in the Northeast. There were incidents in which more than 2,000 people were killed. He alleged that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not speak a word on the violence or visit the state despite being a Rajya Sabha member from Assam. BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla challenged Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate and also remarked that if it could be proved that Singh had uttered even a word addressing the Northeast, he would change his own name.

At the 18:48 mark of the full-length TV debate video on YouTube, BJP’s national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla said, “इस 9 वर्ष के कालखंड से पहले, नॉर्थ-ईस्ट में 8 वर्ष के कालखंड में 8.5 हजार घटनाएं हुई. एक बार मनमोहन सिंह जी ने, जो असम से चुने हुए थे राज्यसभा सांसद, वहां पर जाना तो दूर, कुछ बोला तक नहीं.” [Before this nine-year period, 8,500 incidents (of violence) took place in the Northeast in a period of eight years. Manmohan Singh, who was elected Rajya Sabha member from Assam, did not even say anything once, let alone go there.” At the 20:34 mark, while repeating the same claim, Poonawalla challenges Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate, saying, “इनके 8 वर्ष के कार्यकाल में 8 हजार घटनाएं हुई जिसमें 2 हजार से ज्यादा लोग नॉर्थ-ईस्ट के मारे गए. एक शब्द मनमोहन सिंह के मुंह से निकला होगा तो मैं अपना नाम बदल दूंगा. ये असम से चुने हुए थे, असम नहीं जाते थे.” [“During his tenure of eight years, there were 8,000 incidents in the Northeast in which more than 2,000 people were killed. . . If he really uttered even one word, I am willing to change my name. He was elected from Assam, but he did not go there.”]

Fact Check

Alt News fact-checked the claim made by BJP national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla in a TV debate and found it to be false. We searched the archives of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Press Information Bureau (PIB) for speeches and press releases made by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. We discovered he had made several statements on the incidents in the Northeast. In addition, as a Rajya Sabha member from Assam, he also visited the state several times. Details of these visits can be found in the following article.

Statement of former PM Manmohan Singh on violence in the Northeast:

May 3, 2014 – Statement on violence in Assam:

February 4, 2014 – Statement on the attack on a student in Arunachal Pradesh:

August 17, 2012 – Statement on the security of citizens of Northeast in Rajya Sabha:

The speech given by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Rajya Sabha on August 17, 2012, is available on YouTube.

July 28, 2012 – Statement on violence in Kokrajhar, Assam:

August 18, 2004 – Statement on the death of several people in a bomb blast in Dhemaji, Assam:

Manmohan Singh’s visit to Assam as Rajya Sabha member and PM:

April 20, 2012 – Inaugurated the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the Assam legislative assembly in Guwahati.

November 21, 2004 – Inaugurated the new capital complex of Assam at Dispur.

February 19, 2011 – Laid Foundation stone of National Institute of Design at Jorhat campus in Assam

July 28, 2012 – Visited Assam after violence in Kokrajhar, Assam

To sum it up, while speaking in a TV9 Bharatvarsh debate, BJP national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla falsely claimed former that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh never publicly addressed incidents in the Northeast during his prime ministership and never visited Assam while he had been elected to the Rajya Sabha from the state.

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About the Author

Abhishek is a senior fact-checking journalist and researcher at Alt News. He has a keen interest in information verification and technology. He is always eager to learn new skills, explore new OSINT tools and techniques. Prior to joining Alt News, he worked in the field of content development and analysis with a major focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).