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Tue, 22 May 2018

Northeast Today

China’s Road Construction in Arunachal: A Planned Move?

China’s Road Construction in Arunachal: A Planned Move?
February 13
14:14 2018

NET Bureau

When the Chinese road construction machines rolled, almost 1.25 km inside the imaginary Line of Actual Control or the McMohan Line at Bishing village in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tuting area in Upper Siang district, one young boy Joni Yaying first noticed it and he took steps to not just stop the construction but he also destroyed one Chinese excavator. Even though his heroic act has been lauded by many, but China entering into the Indian territory with ‘ease’, however, once again opens up a lot of questions regarding the vigil along the India-China border, especially in Arunachal Pradesh. Northeast Today digs in deeper

Chinese Road Construction

India and China have been at loggerheads for the past 5-6 decades and the tension between the two countries refuses to die out. From Siachen to Arunachal Pradesh, the entire Himalayan belt is a hot-belt of conflicts. It was only in August 2017 when both the Indian and the Chinese army found themselves pointing guns towards each other at Doklam. A strategic solution was achieved in this matter and it was thought that things are gradually turning sweet from sour between the two Asian giants, but this presumption, however, was short-lived. Towards the end of December 2017, it was reported that China was constructing a road at Bishing village in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tuting area in Upper Siang district, the point closest to where the Chinese road construction machines rolled, almost 1.25 km inside the imaginary Line of Actual Control or the McMohan Line. This irked many and eventually, the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) had to step in and thwart off the Chinese construction workers.

Even though the Chinese government has later issued a clarification that the construction workers entered into the village by ‘mistake’. But going by China’s claim over Arunachal Pradesh, which they call as the Southern Tibet, the clarification is, however, difficult to buy.

“There are a lot of skeletons inside the closet. I feel the road construction by mistake is just a small chapter of an even larger book,” says ManishTalukdar, a doctoral student pursuing his PhD in international relations from Delhi.

Joni Yaying Story

Joni Yaying is a local youth, working as a porter who carries supplies to ITBP posts. He first noticed the Chinese excavators at work while on a routine trek. He alerted the ITBP, which who in turn got the Army there. He also destroyed an excavator at Tenggo-5 pass near Tuting. It was his alertness that prevented a major ‘goof up’ and hence stopped a possible intrusion by the Dragon.

 

Joni Yaying

Mundane Government Interests 

Connectivity is one of the pillars of development and the Narendra Modi-led NDA government over the past three years have put in a lot of thrust in constructing roads and connecting every nook and corner of the country. This, in fact, was also one of the primary goals of the Dr Manmohan Singh led previous UPA government. But even after so much of promises and claims, Bishing village stands tall as one of the symbols of India’s yet-to-be-connected places. And it is an irony that Bishing does not have a motorable road.

“When Arunachal Pradesh has been the apple of discord for decades between India and China and when the Red neighbour is always on the lookout to make inroads into the Indian land through Arunachal Pradesh, the state should receive first priority and there should be proper roads in the entire state. But this is not the case so, thanks to some absurd policies of the Union government,” says a local resident of Itanagar seeking anonymity.

“As per my information, the norms of Pradhan Mantri Gram SadakYojana (PMGSY) are such that a village must have a population of 100 persons for the construction of a government road. But Bishing’s population is a meagre 50 persons only and the village has 16 households. Due to this, there is no road. So does this mean that to protect the lives and properties of these 50 persons is not a government obligation? Will the government always keep ignoring the developmental issues of the people of Bishing? This incident may seem simple and if we buy the Chinese version this being actually a mistake, but then can’t mistakes like these lead to something grievous?” he further questions.

Biju Rajkumar, a Manipur-based social scientist, speaking on a similar vein said, “North-easterners have always been neglected. The Central policies have failed to reach and touch the emotions of the people. Arunachal Pradesh is a strategically placed state and China always has an eye for it. The road construction there by the Chinese is a serious issue and the government should now take some stringent steps against China and its policies regarding Arunachal Pradesh.”

“I salute the brave act of  Joni. Had he noticed the excavators, wonder what would have been the situation now?” he further questions.

Last Words

It may be mentioned here that the Chinese road-building move happened soon after the end of the Army’s month-long annual EWT (early warning test) along the border. Because of the standoff at Doklam, this time the EWT deployment was larger and but the month’s time ended all the additional soldiers were withdrawn and that is when this road building happened.

Does this point towards a planned move by China? Was the Chinese administration waiting for the Indian Army to move back and then carry out this ‘move by mistake’? A lot of questions are still flying n the open seeking concrete answers.

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