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PM Modi in Arunachal today, first visit since Doklam row

Modi’s visit may irk China, which treats parts of Arunachal Pradesh as “disputed area”. Beijing had in the past objected to visit by Indian leaders to the frontier state.

Written by Rahul Tripathi | New Delhi | Updated: February 15, 2018 5:41 am
From Arunachal PM Narendra Modi will proceed to Tripura Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Express Photo/Renuka Puri/File)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to go to Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday, his first visit to the border state after the Army’s standoff with Chinese soldiers in Doklam plateau last year.

Modi’s visit may irk China, which treats parts of Arunachal Pradesh as “disputed area”. Beijing had in the past objected to visit by Indian leaders to the frontier state.

Modi had last visited the state in February 2015. His visit then had drawn a sharp reaction from China, which expressed its “diametrical opposition” to the trip and said that such visits are not conducive to resolving the border dispute. “The act of the Indian side is not conducive to properly resolving and controlling disputes between the two sides, nor in conformity with the general situation of growth of bilateral relations,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying had said then after Modi’s visit.

On Wednesday a government official said, “Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India and visit to the state by the Indian Prime Minister is nothing new. As far as transgressions by the Chinese PLA in Arunachal are concerned, we have taken up the matter with Beijing through diplomatic route,” a senior government official said.

During his visit, Modi will inaugurate the Dorjee Khandu state convention centre and relaunch Doordarshan for the Northeast in Arunachal Pradesh. Modi is also expected to dedicate the State Civil Secretariat building to the nation and lay foundation stone of the academic block of Tomo Riba Institute of Health and Medical Science, according to a government statement.

It may be recalled that visits by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and President Ram Nath Kovind to Arunachal Pradesh in November last year had drawn criticism from China, which claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet and disputes the McMahon Line.

After Kovind’s visit, Beijing had issued a statement saying that India should refrain from “complicating” the border dispute when bilateral relations are at a “crucial moment”.

Beijing did not spare the then US envoy Richard Verma when he visited Arunachal Pradesh in 2016 and had expressed strong displeasure when Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama visited the state in April 2017.

From Arunachal Pradesh, the Prime Minister will proceed to Tripura, where he is likely to address election rallies. Tripura goes to the polls on Sunday, and the BJP is expected to give the ruling CPI(M) a close fight.

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