Major Bob Khathing Credit: Twitter

Itanagar (PTI): Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Friday announced that his government will set up a memorial for Major Bob Khathing, an Army officer who commanded a small team of soldiers to establish India’s administrative control in Tawang bordering China in 1951.

Khandu said that the foundation stone of the memorial will be laid at Tawang on February 14, the day when Maj Khathing was believed to have hoisted the Indian Tricolour there for the first time 70 years ago.

The site of the memorial for the Army officer, who hailed from Manipur, will be selected by the Tawang district administration, he said.

“Not many of us are aware of Maj Khathing and his contribution to Arunachal Pradesh. Once the memorial is built, visitors will come to know about him while having a glimpse of Monpa life,” he said.

The memorial at Tawang will also house a museum of local Monpa tribe and a cafeteria.

Tawang, famous for one of the largest monasteries of Tibetan Buddism, became part of British India after the signing of the Simla Convention in 1914 by Great Britain, China and Tibet. However, the then government could not bring the area under its administrative control for various reasons, official sources said.

Maj Khathing, a decorated officer who fought the World War II, was inducted as an assistant political officer in November 1950 in Tirap division of North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA), which later became Arunachal Pradesh.

Sources said that following an instruction from the government, Maj Khathing and a team of soldiers from Assam Rifles embarked on an arduous journey from Charduar on January 17, 1951, and after negotiating inhospitable terrain in sub- zero temperature, reached Tawang on February 6.

After holding interactions with local village heads, he established Indian authority in that area which was under a loose Tibetan administration at that time, they said.

A British Army officer, after finding it difficult to pronounce his name, ‘Relengnao’, decided to call him ‘Bob’, and he came to be known by this name, sources said.

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