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Border row raked up before PM's visit

The border row between India and China is once again in the news ahead of Manmohan Singh's two-day visit to Arunachal Pradesh beginning on Thursday.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2008 11:52 IST

The border row between India and China is once again in the news ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's two-day visit to the frontier state of Arunachal Pradesh beginning on Thursday.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has raked up the issue of the age-old border dispute between the two countries by urging the prime minister to assure locals in the state about New Delhi's commitment to protecting the territorial integrity of Arunachal Pradesh.

"Let the prime minister assure the people by announcing the government's decision to adopt a resolution in Parliament in its upcoming budget session to protect every inch of the state," BJP MP from Arunachal Pradesh Kiren Rijiju said.

The demand by the BJP assumes significance in view of Beijing still holding on to its age-old stand that a vast stretch of the frontier state belongs to China.

Rijiju and another BJP MP from the state, Tapir Gao, have in a joint letter to the prime minister also urged that Indian residents residing along the border should not be disturbed when the two countries take any decision to resolve the border dispute.

"New Delhi must take initiative to improve road connectivity and provide telecommunication facilities to border villages, besides taking steps to re-open traditional trade routes," the BJP MPs said in their letter.

The ruling Congress party is, however, unlikely to rake up the border dispute.

"There is no such demand from the Congress party or the state government on the prime minister to raise the border issue. It is a well known fact that Arunchal Pradesh is an integral part of India and that our stand is very clear that there cannot be any compromise on the territorial integrity of the state," Takam Sanjay, adviser to Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, told IANS.

Locals in the state, however, want an assurance from the prime minister.

"We want the prime minister to make a bold statement and ask China not to meddle in our territory," said Nima Loya, a tribal community elder.

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, drawn on a map in 1914 and now known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The two countries fought a bloody 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 recognized the 1914 boundary and claims 90,000 sq km - nearly all of Arunachal Pradesh. India accuses China of occupying 8,000 sq km in Kashmir.