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Arunachal MPs angry over Chinese claims on it

China has never recognised the 1914 McMahon Line and claims 90,000 square km -- nearly all-of Arunachal Pradesh.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2006 12:55 IST

A Chinese claim over the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh has triggered angry reactions with regional lawmakers demanding that New Delhi settle the issue once and for all during President Hu Jintao's visit next week.

"New Delhi must say explicitly that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India and such statements should not be made in future," said Nabam Rebia, a Congress MP from Arunachal Pradesh.

In a letter to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Rebia said New Delhi should take up the matter with the Chinese president when he visits India November 20 on a four-day trip.

"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should take up this sensitive matter during the Chinese president's visit and try to get a commitment from Beijing not to rake up such issues again," added TG Rinpoche, a revered Buddhist spiritual leader and a ruling Congress legislator.

"The majority of the people residing along the border with China are Buddhists and everybody here rejects Beijing's claims," Rinpoche said.

Chinese Ambassador Sun Yuxi had said in an interview to a private channel: "The whole of what you call the state of Arunachal Pradesh is the Chinese territory... We are claiming the whole of that."

India has strongly reacted to the Chinese claims with Mukherjee Tuesday saying, "Arunachal Pradesh was an integral part of India".

Beijing had in 2003 given up its territorial claim over Sikkim but was still holding on to its old stand that a vast stretch of Arunachal Pradesh belongs to it.

The mountainous state of Arunachal Pradesh shares a 1,030 km unfenced border with China.

The India-China border along Arunachal Pradesh is separated by the McMohan Line, an imaginary border now known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

India and China fought a bitter border war in 1962, with Chinese troops advancing deep into Arunachal Pradesh and inflicting heavy casualties on Indian troops.

The border dispute with China was inherited by India from British colonial rulers, who hosted a 1914 conference with the Tibetan and Chinese governments that set the border in what is now Arunachal Pradesh.

China has never recognised the 1914 McMahon Line and claims 90,000 square km -- nearly all-of Arunachal Pradesh.

India also accuses China of occupying 8,000 square km in Kashmir.

After the 1962 Sino-Indian War, tension flared up once again in 1986 with Indian and Chinese forces clashing in the Sumdorong Chu valley of Arunachal Pradesh.

The Chinese troops reportedly constructed a helipad in the valley leading to fresh skirmishes along the borders during that time.

"India should not repeat the mistake once again by remaining silent on the Chinese claims as that could encourage the neighbouring country to try and forcibly annex our land," another lawmaker from Arunachal Pradesh said.

Several pressure groups, influential tribal students' organisations and the Congress-ruled state government have voiced their anger over the recent claims by China.