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PM to attend Arunachal Statehood Day function


NEW DELHI, Feb 18 � In what appears to be a move aimed at sending a clear signal to China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to attend the 29th Statehood Day celebrations of Arunachal Pradesh at Itanagar on February 20.

Modi will be the first Prime Minister of the country to attend the Statehood Day celebrations of Arunachal Pradesh, which is bound to invite sharp reaction from neighbouring China, which claims the entire state to be its territory.

Interestingly, when President Pranab Mukherjee visited the state last November, China reacted rather mildly, saying it hoped India would refrain from �actions that complicate the boundary question.�

�We hope that the Indian side could meet China halfway to safeguard the overall interests of bilateral relations, refrain from taking actions that complicate the boundary question, work together with us to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas and create conditions for boundary negotiations,� a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman had then said.

However, the response was in sharp contrast to China�s strong reaction to a 2009 tour of Arunachal Pradesh by the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. At that time, China had said it was �deeply upset� about his visit to the �disputed region�.

The Foreign Ministry had further said China�s position on the �disputed area of the eastern section of the China-India boundary is consistent and clear-cut�.

Beijing has also opposed Asian Development Bank (ADB) funding for water projects in Arunachal Pradesh, inviting protests from New Delhi.

Meanwhile, sources said that the Prime Minister will inaugurate the Arunachal Festival, which is a two-day festival organised by the State Government every year to commemorate the Statehood Day. He will also address the public at the inaugural function of the Statehood Day celebrations at IG Park in the state capital.

An important item on the agenda is inauguration of the railway link that seeks to connect Arunachal with the railway network of the NF Railway. Arunachal Pradesh entered the railway map of India in April last year, when a trial run was successfully conducted by the Railways to the Naharlagan Railway Station.

The Prime Minister is expected to announce a train connecting the national capital to Itanagar, said sources.

Further, Modi will also lay the foundation of the Trans Arunachal Pradesh 132 Kv Transmission line and inaugurate the Itanagar Water Supply Scheme.

Although the Prime Minister will be in Arunachal Pradesh for only two hours, the State Government is expecting some important announcements from him.

Incidentally, Modi�s visit precedes tours by several Union Ministers to the state. So far, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram have visited the state in the last one week to review the Central Government projects.

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