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World War II museum coming up in Arunachal

 ITANAGAR, Aug 12 – The tourism industry in Arunachal Pradesh has received a shot in the arm with the Union Ministry of Culture sanctioning funds for construction of a museum in memory of those who laid down their lives in World War II at Nampong in Changlang district.

 The Second World War Memorial Museum, which will come up adjacent to the historic Stilwell Road, is expected to boost tourist inflow from South East Asian countries.

“The museum, to be constructed with a sanctioned amount of Rs 2.25 crore, will also be in honour of the Arunachalees who laid down their lives fighting under the British,” Director of Research of Arunachal Pradesh Government Tage Tada said.

Tada said that the sanctioned fund had already been released in the current fiscal and his department was undertaking the site selection job for the proposed museum. “We have already entrusted the responsibility to the concerned engineering department for preparing the master plan of the building,” he stated.

He said the museum would not only preserve the remnants of the War, but also personal belongings of the soldiers and other persons involved.

The Stillwell Road, near which the museum will be set up, is part of a tourist circuit where there already exist a World War II cemetery near Jairampur, Hell Gate and the Iron Bridge, the last two being the living testimonies to the WW II.

The National Highway Authority has been undertaking renovation and construction of the Stilwell Road up to Pangsau Pass, the last Indian post.

“We have asked the NHA to re-align the road near the Hell Gate and the Iron Bridge so that both structures could be preserved as historical evidences of the War. They have already agreed upon,” he said.

Not long after the construction of the Stilwell Road was completed and the first convoy of Allied supplies reached China in February, 1945, the Second World War ended.

The Stilwell Road’s construction and the airlift of supplies from Assam to Yunnan in China across mountains exceeding 10,000 feet are considered to be one of the most remarkable chapters of World War II.

It was necessitated following the Japanese invasion of China and the consequent inability of the Allied Forces to reach supplies to China by sea. To make matters worse, the Japanese land thrust towards India from South East Asia cut off access to the Burma Road once Myanmar fell.

The airlift from Assam, called “Flying the Hump”, became a legend in aviation history. Flown by American and Chinese pilots, several aircraft were lost on the way.

Lobbying to re-open the Stilwell Road, much of which lay in Myanmar, has been on for some time. Nampong, where the museum is proposed to be built, is a town where unofficial trade between Myanmar and India is carried out. Trade articles on offer include packaged food items, garments, toiletry, cosmetics, porcelain and small gadgets.

Border policing in these parts works on the principle that people residing in the neighbourhood of the international divide be allowed to cross. There are specific days for visits by either side. Soon the region will gain the official status of tourist circuit, Tada said. – PTI

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