September 30, 2009

Bumla Border

Filed under: Arunachal,National Security — loggers @ 1:40 am

One of the main attractions of visiting Arunachal Pradesh is to go to the Indo-China (or Tibet, based on your stance) border, along the McMahon Line that was drawn up during the British Raj. The treaty that was signed between British India and Tibet has never been officially recognized by the Chinese on account of illegitimacy of the erstwhile Tibetan government. After India gave political asylum to the Dalai Lama in 1959[i], tensions between the two countries rose due to significant army movement on both sides, ultimately leading to the Indo-China war that took place in the winter of 1962. The Bumla border was one of the main battlegrounds of the war, through which the Chinese were able to enter India and capture territory right up to the Assamese town of Tezpur.

After a bumpy ride towards Bumla, we had to walk the last couple of km to the border as a result of our car not being able to traverse the difficult terrain. We were welcomed by a warm and hospitable army officer who showed us around the LAC (Line of Actual Control), and explained the territorial claims agreed upon between the two sides after the war as well as the flag handover ceremony[ii]. Through the jawaans’ binoculars, we were able to observe the Chinese building a two lane highway leading up to the border, an ominous sign in itself. However, no skirmishes have taken place and not a single shot has been fired since the war in 1962.

View of the Indo-China border from Bumla

View of the Indo-China border from Bumla

With the jawaans at Bumla

With the jawaans at Bumla

Inside the hospitality room, we were treated to some hot, sweet chai and given a background on the diplomatic procedure that takes place at this location when Chinese delegations arrive. This space also serves as a place to entertain army guests and government officials, many of which are known to visit Bumla.

Meeting room for delegations at Bumla

Meeting room for delegations at Bumla

We then visited the Shungatser lake on our way back to Tawang, a 20km drive from the border. This is now better known as Madhuri lake, after a song involving the effervescent Madhuri Dixit from the movie “Koyla” was shot there. We were treated to some hot coffee and bhajias by army officers who ran a canteen by the lake, a perfect respite from the cold weather outside.

Compared to the palpable tension noticed at the Indo-Pak border at Wagah, the China border effused a sense of calm. However, this could well be deceiving in light of the peace pact that was signed between the two nations, which ends in 2012.

Peace (?)

Peace (?)

[i] This year marks the 50th anniversary the Lama’s stay in India, and he is expected to visit Tawang in November

[ii] This ceremony occurs 4 times a year, with the next one to be held on Oct 1, to celebrate the Chinese National Day. Celebrations on this day include a flag exchange, cultural dances from each side and other similar events, which tourists are allowed to observe


1 Comment »

  1. “Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”

    Comment by Amar Sheth — September 30, 2009 @ 3:28 am | Reply

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