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India, China on with Border Personnel Meeting

By Super

Tezu (Arunachal Pradesh), Nov 15: Close on the heels of the exchange of rhetoric over Arunachal Pradesh between India and China, the Indian army will hold the first ever Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) with the Chinese army at Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh, opening a new chapter of peace.

Official sources from the 3 Corps of the Army confirmed that the BPM would go as planned even as strong statements emanated from China and India regarding the picturesque Tawang region.

Just days before the maiden visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to India on November 20, Indian and Chinese troops will assemble for the first time in a Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) at Kibithu, signaling a new beginning in the Indo-China relations, defence sources said.

A visiting Chinese envoy had recently claimed that Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory which was strongly rebutted by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

In fact, after Nathu La in Sikkim, Kibithu, a tiny village of Arunachal Pradesh's Lohit district, was fast emerging to be a new melting pot of Indo-China friendship.

Unlike Bumla in the Tawang sector, Kibithu offers relatively easy travel up to the Chinese side and the Army was highly optimistic about the new development.

Kibithu is controlled from Tezu, where a brigade headquarters of the 4 corps is located and senior officers from the nearby post of Walong will join the troops of Kibithu in the November 18 talks.

On the entire Indo-China border, BPMs take place only at Nathu La and Bumla, also in Arunachal Pradesh, and now Kibithu will be the third point to host border talks between the troops of the two countries.

Defence sources, however, could not confirm whether the BPM will be held on the Indian territory or the Chinese side. The Lohit river, one of the three main originating tributaries of the Brahmaputra, flows by the side of Kibithu.

Kibithu is supported from the nearest civilian and military administrative post Walong, a small cantonment and administrative town in the Anjaw district about 180 km by road from the district headquarters town of Tezu.

Anjaw was carved out of Lohit district in 2004. North of the border lies the Tibetan trading town of Rima. Illegal crossing by the Tibetans to visit relatives are very common there.

In the autumn of 1962 Walong was the scene of the ''Battle of Walong'' when the outnumbered Indian Army's 11th Infantry Brigade blocked the thrust of the invading Chinese Red Army. The Brigade put up a valiant and tenacious defence between October 22 and November 16 until it was reduced to pitiful remnants, and then withdrew down the valley to Hayuliang. The Chinese, who had suffered large casualties, did not follow up beyond Changwinty.

However, defence sources said there was no such hostility any longer and Kibithu can provide much easier and better road access to Tibet for future trading. The nearest civilian airport is Dibrugarh and with a very hard drive, one can reach Walong or Kibithu the same day traveling around 350 kilometers from Dibrugarh.

Recently Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Gegong Apang had visited the areas to explore the possibility of border trade between the two neighbours.


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