Major Ralengnao Bob Khathing, who was instrumental in bringing Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh under Indian Union, was honoured for the first time here on Sunday in presence of Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, two chief ministers, a central minister and a governor. As an assistant political officer of the erstwhile North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) and present-day Arunachal Pradesh, Khathing had carried out an audacious operation to bring Tawang under Indian Union in the early 1950s under the direct supervision of the then Assam Governor Jairamdas Daulatram.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, Arunachal Pradesh Governor Brigadier (Retd) BD Mishra and General Rawat attended the foundation stone laying ceremony of Major Ralengnao Bob Khathing Memorial at Kalawangpo auditorium in Tawang. “It a magnificent function where Khathing was honoured. Contribution of the hero of Tawang cannot be forgotten. Due recognition has been given to Khathing, who was so far neglected,” Rijiju said.
Khathing’s family members were also present at the function. Khathing, who was a Naga from Manipur, was given orders by Daulatram to march towards Tawang with 200 soldiers of the Assam Rifles and 600 porters on January 17, 1951, from Chariduwar near Tezpur in Assam.
Before World War II, Tawang was under administrative control of the then independent Tibetan government. Despite several attempts, the British could not annex it.
According to the historical accounts of the NEFA, when Khathing and his men arrived in Tawang, he called a meeting on a high-ground near the Tawang Monastery for meeting local tax officials, village elders and prominent people of Tawang. Khathingused diplomatic skills to win over the locals.
He soon realised that the local Monpa community was struggling under the harsh taxes imposed by the Tibetan administration. He told the local people about India, it’s democracy and assured them that India will never impose unjustified tax on them.
Soon, with the Assam Rifles men, Khathing took control of Tawang, the tricolour was hoisted in Tawang and Bumla and the area became part of India.