R Dutta choudhury
GUWAHATI, Oct 28 – Despite the sharp difference in the pace of development on both sides of the McMahon line, the people of Arunachal Pradesh are still very much Indians at heart and there is urgent need for increasing the pace of development in the State, at least in the areas bordering China. This was the observation made by former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jarbom Gamlin.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Gamlin said that though 50 years have passed since the Chinese aggression, the people of Arunachal Pradesh are still very much apprehensive and India must step up pace of infrastructure development. Though in recent times, the Government of India has started initiatives for infrastructure development, the Chinese are miles ahead in this regard, he admitted.
Gamlin revealed that the people living in the international border areas have been witnessing the pace of development across the border for years. He pointed out that the people living in Kivito in Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh can always see the pace of development in China including growth of townships with lights and other facilities as well as all weather roads, while, the people in this side of the international border have to live without basic facilities including electricity. “But at heart, the people of Arunachal Pradesh are still very much Indians. In fact, the people of Arunachal Pradesh are more Indian than the mainland Indians. The Government of India should realize this fact and increase the pace of development,” he added.
Recalling the Chinese aggression, the former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister said that at that time India was ill prepared to take on the Chinese. He observed that the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru also could not read the mind of the Chinese and adequate precautionary measures could not be taken to deal with the situation.
Gamlin said that during the war, the Chinese built a road from Bumla to Tawang to come inside India and the Chinese Army personnel took precautions not to harm the local people. The Chinese tried to give the impression that they were friendly to the local people and a number of medical camps for the people of that area were organized and in Dirang valley, the Chinese even tried to help the locals in cultivating their land. Their effort was to win over the local people. But the people of Arunachal Pradesh are still very much Indians at heart, he said.
Gamlin is of the view that the people of Arunachal Pradesh are happy with the Army reinforcements in recent times but much need to be done for infrastructure development. The Government of India has pumped in lots of funds in recent years and a Trans Arunachal highway is coming up. But India is still far behind China in matters of border areas development and roads to the international border areas and bridges should be constructed immediately. The Government of Arunachal Pradesh took up the issue with the Government of India and Planning Commission on several occasions and there should be separate policy for road development in Arunachal Pradesh. The PMGSY norms for Arunachal Pradesh should also be different as the cost involved in construction of roads in difficult hilly terrain is much higher than in the plains. The Government officers should not formulate policies sitting in Delhi and they should visit the difficult terrain to see the situation on the ground and formulate policies accordingly.
On reports of Chinese incursions from time to time, Gamlin said that the McMahon line is an imaginary line and sometimes patrol parties from both sides cross the line. He said that there have been instances when the Chinese patrol parties , after crossing the McMahon line, dropped cigarette packets, liquor bottles etc in this side of the border and wrote something on stones so that the area can be claimed as theirs. But these cannot be called real incursions. However, there is need for trying to find permanent solution to the border disputes, he added.