Union defence minister Rajnath Singh declared open 11th Maitree Diwas along China border in Tawang on Thursday Credit: EastMojo image

Tawang: People living in border areas are no “ordinary” citizens but “strategic assets” to the nation, said Union defence minister Rajnath Singh while declaring open the 11rh Maitree Diwas in presence of chief minister Pema Khandu, Lok Sabha MP Tapir Gao near the China/Tibet border on Thursday.

Singh said that the bonhomie shared by civil administration, local public, paramilitary forces and the military forces in the district must also be emulated in other parts of the Northeast India for the region’s speedy development.

Such celebration must be extended to other parts of the country. Such patriotism exhibited by the Arunachali people is applauded not only in India but also by Indians living abroad, said Singh, who is on his maiden visit to Arunachal Pradesh as the defence minister.

The defence minister also paid tribute to former chief minister Dorjee Khandu under whose leadership the celebration of ‘Maitree Diwas’ was first started in the frontier state.

Singh further said that Arunachal has a bright future under the leadership of chief minister Pema Khandu whose tirade against corruption will take the state to new heights of development.

He said his ministry will see that Arunachali youths will have special opportunity to work with the Indian Army. He informed that a ‘Sena Sampark’ centre is being proposed at Itanagar under a brigadier offering single window opportunity to be heard on any issue.

He also said that his ministry is proposing to identify and develop “tourism hotspots” in Arunachal, which will be developed with the assistance from the Indian Army posted in the border areas.

Also speaking on the occasion, chief minister Khandu said the bonhomie shared by civilians and the Indian Army here is exemplary and the kind of cooperation extended between the civil administration, public and the Indian Army can be seen nowhere else in the country.

He said the presence of Indian Army in the border areas of Arunachal has contributed lot to its development. “Wherever civilian administrations are unable to reach out to people for medical assistance, education and for distress help during natural calamities, Indian Army has always proved to be of great assistance,” Khandu said.

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He further extended his thanks on behalf of people of Arunachal to the defence forces for their humanitarian services in Arunachal.

Acknowledging that people living in the border areas are still striving for basic needs, the chief minister said the Centre and the state government is now together working to give a big push for the development of the people living in remote border areas.

Khandu on the day also remembered great freedom fighters from Arunachal such as Matmur Jamoh and Moji Riba and also paid tribute to late Havildar Hangpan Dada.

The celebrations on Thursday were marked by colourful cultural displays and war drills presented by the local cultural group and the Indian Army.

Earlier, the defence minister visited the Tawang War Memorial where he paid tributes to the war heroes of the Indian Army who died fighting for the country in 1962. Singh also visited the Tawang Monastery.

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