Rajnath’s visit reignites Assam-Arunachal boundary row

By Express News Service
GUWAHATI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh may have made a spirited statement on “peace” and “aggression” on June 17 but he also ended up reigniting an inter-state border row.

After e-dedicating 12 border roads built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to the nation that day, Singh had tweeted about attending the programme in the “North East” and shared a statement of his ministry that suggested the event was held in Lakhimpur district of Assam.

Now, various organisations in Arunachal are hitting the streets, baying for the BRO’s blood for “misleading” the Defence Ministry. They as well as Lok Sabha member from the state Tapir Gao said the venue of the Defence Minister’s event was Kimin in Arunachal, and it is well within the frontier state.

“The BRO has created a misunderstanding between Assam and Arunachal by misguiding the Defence Minister. Kimin is in Arunachal, not Assam,” Gao told this newspaper on Sunday. 

He said ahead of Singh’s event, the words “Arunachal” and “Kimin”, written on landmarks and structures in Kimin, were covered with “white paste”.

“By doing this, they tried to erase Arunachalhood. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was with the Defence Minister that day. He also knows Kimin is in Arunachal. The BRO officer concerned should be booked. The Arunachal government should file an FIR against the official,” Gao demanded.

He said the officer, who had issued directions to conceal the words Arunachal and Kimin should also be booked and suspended.

“The BRO should apologise to the people of Assam and Arunachal. The two states are already locked in border disputes at many places,” the BJP MP said.

Sources said possibly, the venue of the Defence Minister’s programme was deliberately mentioned as in Assam for “strategic” reasons. But Gao said: “I know Rajnath Singh Ji. He is one who will not be bothered by what China says.” Beijing had opposed Singh’s visit to Arunachal in 2019.

The All Kimin Youth Welfare Association had staged a protest against the BRO in Kimin on Saturday. It described the incident as an insult to Arunachal as well as Kimin.

Similarly, the All Nyishi Youth Association demanded that the state government conduct a probe and find out why the BRO had insulted Arunachal and its people. 

Addressing a crowd at the event that day, the Defence Minister had said: “As far as India is concerned, there is no second opinion. We are a worshipper of peace and we never resorted to aggression against any country, whether a neighbour or otherwise. But if someone resorts to aggression against us, we know how to give a befitting reply.”