India and China have been on the edge for quite some time, the recent incident of alleged abduction of five youths from the border state of Arunachal Pradesh by the Chinese troops has opened the Pandora’s Box. Even though prompt action from the Indian side has led to the safe return of the youths. However, as India, reached out to China to know the whereabouts of the missing youths who had inadvertently crossed the LAC, China also reiterated its claim to Arunachal Pradesh. Considering the fact that the red dragon does not recognize Arunachal as a part of India, its movement near the border at a time of repeated incursions and skirmishes has raised an alert of its old tactics of occupying neighbouring territories. Northeast Today writes.
China’s claim on Arunachal
On September 3, five youths from Nacho in Upper Subansiri District in Arunachal Pradesh who reportedly went for hunting were abducted by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The incident came to limelight when one Prakash Ringling who claimed to be the brother of one of the abducted youth has posted in social media that his brother along with four others has been abducted by the PLA troops. The post also named the five people who have been missing.
Taking heed of the situation, MLA Ninong Ering took to Twitter to express his concern over the abduction. “Few months earlier, a similar incident happened. A befitting reply must be given to PLA and China,” he tweeted.
This was followed by ruling party MP Tapir Gao’s tweet, wherein he has alleged that five young men had been abducted by the Chinese army personnel near the border on September 3. He further added that similar incident happened in March as well and its time to take a stand against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju who is also from Arunachal Pradesh was prompt in his action and he announced that those who went missing on the Sino-Indian border in Upper Subansiri district, were found by the PLA in their territory. Accordingly, the youths were returned to the Indian Army on 17 September.
However, prior to this when Rijiju stated that the Indian army was awaiting a response from the PLA after a message was conveyed through the hotline about the missing youth. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said, “China has never recognised so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’, which is China’s south Tibet region, and we have no details to release yet about questions on Indian army sending a message to PLA about five missing Indians in the region.”
Border and beyond
Arunachal Pradesh constitutes a mountainous area in the extreme northeastern part of the country and shares 1,126 km border with China. Situated in India’s north-eastern border it has been a separate state since 1986 and is claimed by China as ‘Southern Tibet’. The McMahon Line’ defines the border between British India and Outer Tibet at the Simla conference in 1913-14. While the British and Tibetans signed the resulting Accord the Chinese did not. Today, India still recognises the McMahon Line as the border but the Chinese disagree, citing Arunachal Pradesh as being geographically and culturally part of Tibet since ancient times. Adding to this was the exile of the Dalai Lama during the Tibet uprising in 1959 and the Sino-Indian war of 1962 over the disputed border area. China swiftly declared victory but voluntarily withdrew back to the McMahon Line. Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh remain sources of tensions between China and India and both sides have not managed to negotiate an agreement as to the precise border. (EU-Asia Centre)
Till today Beijing has been objecting when dignitaries visit Arunachal Pradesh claiming Arunachal to be part of the geographical territory of south Tibet or the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
Last year, customs authorities in a northeastern Chinese city had destroyed nearly 30,000 world maps that showed Arunachal Pradesh as a part of India and Taiwan as a separate country. It was said to be the largest such exercise in recent years and was carried out to protect China’s “territorial integrity”.
Call from the region
The recent “abduction” of the five youths has raised eyebrows amongst various organisations in the state. Accordingly, they demanded that the centre and the state government to take concrete measures to tackle the problem of frequent intrusion near the border area.
In March, a 21-year-old man was reportedly “abducted” by the PLA near Asapila sector. He returned after 19 days.
As per local reports, India-China border is a hub of exotic items many say people go hunting for these herbs as the youths who were abducted also went for hunting. Moreover, organizations claimed that recurrence of such incidents “simply reflects the failure of the Central as well as the state government in protecting life and ensuring the security of our people inhabiting the border areas.”
“The recent incident is not an isolated case as time and again the PLA have been repeatedly indulging in similar antics whereby innocent civilians living at inhospitable border areas are taken captive at regular intervals,” the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) said.
It further said that the respective governments have shown utter negligence to this frontier state in terms of accelerating development in border areas.
AAPSU asserted that the absence of all-weather roads and other infrastructure in the border areas was not only making life difficult for people who live in border areas, but also for the defense personnel deployed along the LAC. “Stop looking at Arunachal only through the prism of security; rather take a more inclusive approach of development at par with other states of the country,” said AAPSU.