Itanagar: Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Monday termed the Border Roads Organisation’s (BRO) howler of representing an administrative headquarters (Kimin) in Arunachal Pradesh as a part of Assam a “gross mistake” and one that needs urgent rectification.
“A serious mistake was committed by the BRO during the inauguration of 11 new and old widened roads in Arunachal Pradesh by mentioning Kimin as Assam. The matter came to my notice after the event and I’ve immediately conveyed to BRO for urgent rectification of mistake which happened without the knowledge of Defence Minister and Arunachal government,” Rijiu said in a social media post.
The MoS was reacting to recent developments wherein Kimin, an ADC headquarters in Arunachal’s Papum Pare district, was referenced by the BRO as a part of Assam during defence minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to the town to inaugurate 12 border roads built by the organisation.
Singh had later tweeted about attending the programme and shared a statement of his ministry that suggested the event was held in Assam’s Lakhimpur district.
“At an event organised in Lakhimpur district of Assam, the Raksha Mantri e-inaugurated a 20-km long double lane Kimin-Potin road, along with nine other roads in Arunachal Pradesh and one each in the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir. The roads have been constructed under ‘Arunank’, ‘Vartak’, ‘Brahmank’, ‘Udayak’, ‘Himank’ and ‘Sampark’ projects of BRO,” the statement had said.
During the inauguration, it was also noticed that several sign boards displaying Arunachal’s name were covered with white paste while communication shared by the BRO regarding the inauguration programme also mentioned that the event was being held in Bilgarh, Assam.
A few mainstream media organisations had also carried the story mentioning Kimin to be a part of Assam instead of Arunachal.
“We are strong people and this gross mistake will not affect an inch of our territorial status,” Rijiu further said in his post, while adding that Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu and his Assam counterpart Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma will meet soon for better coordination to avoid any local land disputes.
“We are sister states and we must co-exist peacefully,” the MoS said.
Chief Minister Khandu termed the matter to be unfortunate on the part of the BRO.
“The Arunachal government came to know about the inauguration programme quite late. The public leaders of Kimin later apprised the government that the sign boards displaying Arunachal’s name and other mentions of the state were being covered with white paste. Taking the matter seriously, I briefed the same to MoS Rijiju who was at the time travelling with the defence minister,” Khandu said while addressing reporters here on Monday.
Khandu said, “Even defence minister Singh never mentioned Kimin to be a part of Assam in his speech and it was unfortunate on the part of the BRO to do so.”
The chief minister said he has directed the local administration to look into the matter and clear the “miscommunication” with the BRO chief engineer concerned.
With regards to the boundary disputes with Assam, Khandu said he has spoken to his Assam counterpart and they would hold talks soon to solve the matter amicably outside the court.
“I agree that the BRO has made a mistake, however, I appeal to the people not to ignite the issue. We are determined to resolve this border dispute and will give our best,” Khandu said.
Arunachal shares around 716 kms of inter-state boundary with Assam.
While the BRO has denied feeding wrong information, it also claimed that the same was done due to “strategic reasons which were deliberated at the highest level”.
All the BRO officials contacted by this reporter refused to comment on the matter.