2022: China face-off, Assam border dispute hog news in Arunachal

India China Border
LAC
Image: Reuters

The face-off between the Indian and Chinese soldiers along the line of actual control (LAC) in the frontier state, efforts for early resolution of disputed areas along its boundary with Assam, and the state public service commission paper leak case dominated news from Arunachal Pradesh through the year.

The Northeastern state was also in the news for helicopter crashes, floods, and landslides. The state government earmarked 2022 as the year of e-governance with 22 people-centric initiatives, making the state a leader in e-governance across the nation.

Indian and Chinese troops clashed along the LAC in the Tawang sector in early December and the face-off resulted in “minor injuries to a few personnel from both sides.”

The incident took place near Yangtse, along the LAC in the sensitive Tawang sector, amid the over 30-month border standoff between the two sides in eastern Ladakh.

The clash took place within a month of the anniversary of the 1962 border war between India and China. The Arunachal border is disputed by the Chinese who have stepped up their military presence along the border for the past few years.

Efforts to resolve the decades-old boundary dispute between Arunachal and Assam got a fresh impetus this year with the two states on 15 July inking the Namsai Declaration – an agreement to reduce the number of disputed villages from 123 to 86.

“Namsai Declaration is hugely significant and a landmark progress towards enduring brotherhood, peace and prosperity in the Northeast,” Chief Minister Pema Khandu said.

Three rounds of the regional committee-level meet, besides several rounds of district committee-level meets were also held between both states this year.

The first round of regional-level talks was held in Namsai, followed by the second in Dibrugarh and the third in Guwahati. The two Northeastern states share an 804.1-km-long border.

Arunachal, which was made a union territory in 1972, has alleged that several forested tracts in the plains that had traditionally belonged to its hill tribal chiefs and communities were unilaterally transferred to Assam.

After Arunachal achieved statehood in 1987, a tripartite committee was appointed, which recommended that certain territories be transferred from Assam to Arunachal. Assam contested the recommendation and the matter is being heard by the Supreme Court.

The alleged paper leak in an examination conducted by the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC), that rocked the state, came to light after a candidate filed a police complaint.

The assistant engineer (civil) examination conducted by the commission came under a cloud as a result. More than 400 candidates had appeared for the examination held on 26 and 27 August.

In October, the state government handed over the case to the CBI. A chargesheet was filed by the investigating agency against 10 accused people at the district & sessions court in Yupia near here on 8 December.

The case was initially investigated by the capital police, and later transferred to the Special Investigation Cell (SIC) of the state police.

Ten people, including APPSC deputy secretary-cum-deputy controller of examination, have been arrested by the police for their alleged involvement in the paper leak case. The chairman of the APPSC, Nipo Nabam, too resigned on 14 October as a fallout of the scam.

The state government also ordered a separate probe into all exams conducted by the commission since 2014 by the SIC. Thirty-four people have thus far been arrested by the SIC in this case.

The state cabinet on 22 December gave its approval for a separate departmental inquiry into the APPSC paper leak case, which will be independent of the ongoing investigations by the SIC and the CBI.

It was also decided that the state government will urge the high court to designate a court exclusively for the matter. In recognition of the efforts of the whistleblower who uncovered the paper leak, the cabinet resolved to frame rules for immediate implementation of the Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2014.

Tragedy also hit the state during the year with six army personnel losing their lives in two different helicopter crashes in the state in 2022. Five army personnel died in a helicopter crash near Migging village in Upper Siang district on 21 October.

 On 5 October, an Indian Army pilot lost his life when a Cheetah helicopter crashed near Tawang. The state government during the year launched three new verticals  Aatmanirbhar Plantation, Aatmanirbhar Pasupalan and Aatmanirbhar Matsyapalan Yojanas and allocated Rs 310 crore as front-end subsidy, which would benefit 15,000 farmers and 500 self-help groups across the state.

“We have adopted a five-pillar approach – krishi, bagwani, plantation, pashupalan, and matsyapalan – to realiase the goal of Aatmanirbhar Arunachal,” Chief Minister Pema Khandu said.

Flood and landslides also hit the frontier Himalayan state, claiming at least 20 lives during the year. More than 200 houses were damaged and over one lakh were affected by floods.

Over 20 militants from various outfits were arrested during the anti-insurgency operation in the state during the year, while five rebels were killed in a gun battle with security forces.