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Itanagar Turns 100

ITANAGAR, Feb 16: A month after waiting for UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to add more than just sheen, India’s oldest easternmost town kicked off its centenary celebration on Wednesday.

Sonia Gandhi’s presence at Pasighat, the oldest town in Arunachal Pradesh, was expected to have sent a political statement to Beijing. Hopes were also pinned on her to check a wave of dissidence against Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu with the town as its epicenter.

Pasighat, 280 km east of Itanagar, is almost at the centre of Arunachal Pradesh. Beijing claims the State belongs to China.

The UPA chairperson declined to inaugurate the Pasighat centenary celebration despite Khandu and his Ministers camping in New Delhi for days. It was finally left to the Chief Minister to let China know what his State was doing to protect the “territorial integrity” of Arunachal Pradesh.

“We raised a regiment of Arunachal Scouts in Shillong last year. The Centre has sanctioned three more toward aiding the armed forces in protecting this frontier.

The Centre is also working on our proposal for a Rs 4,200 crores package to link 22 unconnected administrative circles in our state,” Khandu said while inaugurating the centenary celebration at Pasighat General Ground. Arunachal Scouts, modeled on Ladakh Scouts, is affiliated to the army and is envisaged to produce war-ready locals familiar with the state’s mountainous terrain. Almost all the unconnected administrative circles border China.

Khandu also had the churning within the ruling Congress in mind. He refrained from attacking the rebels but came along with almost all his ministers to make a political statement. Often called the gateway of Arunachal Pradesh, Pasighat is the headquarters of East Siang district. It was established by the British in 1911 after the Abor expedition that year against the Adi tribe.

Pasighat has in recent years been in headlines for being the converging point of public and private hydropower project developers.

Most of these projects are on river Siang that flows past the town.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express/Newmai News Network)

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