During the Sino-Indian war of 1962, Tawang fell briefly under Chinese control, but China voluntarily withdrew its troops at the end of the war and Tawang returned to Indian administration.
Explained: The History of Tawang Sector of Arunachal Pradesh
New Delhi (ABC Live): A major clash was reported in the crucial Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh between India and China on Monday, confirmation to this effect has already been issued by Indian Army.
ABC Research Team working on Indo Sino relations refers an article based on Wikipedia inputs on Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh so that our readers may get history of the area where recent clash was reported.
Tawang is a town in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The town was once the capital of the Tawang Tract, which is now divided into the Tawang district and the West Kameng district. Tawang continues as the headquarters of the former
Tawang is situated 448 km north-west of state capital Itanagar at an elevation of approximately 3,048 metres (10,000 ft). It lies to the north of the Tawang Chu river valley, roughly 10 miles (16 km) south of the Line of Actual Control with China. It is the site of a famous Gelugpa Buddhist monastery.
Tawang is inhabited by the Monpa people. The Tawang Monastery was founded by the Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in 1681 in accordance with the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, and has an interesting legend surrounding its name. ‘TA’ means 'Horse' and ‘WANG’ means 'Chosen'. So, the word 'Tawang' means "Chosen by Horse". As per a legend, the Monastery is believed to have been chosen by a Horse Owned by Mera Lama Lodre Gyatso.The sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso, was born in Tawang.
Tawang was historically under the control of Tibet. During the 1914 Simla Conference, Tibet and British India signed an agreement delineating their common boundary in the Assam Himalaya region, which came to be known as the McMahon Line. By this agreement, Tibet relinquished several hundred square miles of its territory, including Tawang, to the British. The agreement was not recognized by China.
According to Tsering Shakya, the British records show that the Tibetans regarded the border agreed in 1914 as being conditional upon China accepting the Simla Convention. Since the British were unable to get China's acceptance, the Tibetans regarded the MacMahon line "invalid".
The British did not implement the McMahon Line for over two decades, during which Tawang continued to be administered by Tibet. When the British botanist Frank Kingdon-Ward crossed the Sela Pass and entered Tawang in 1935 without permission from Tibet, he was briefly arrested. The Tibetan government lodged a formal complaint against Britain.
This drew the attention of the British, who re-examined the Indo-Tibetan border, and attempted to revive the McMahon Line.
In November, the British government demanded that Tibet implement the border agreement. This met with resistance from the Tibetan government which implied that China's acceptance of the Simla Convention was a prerequisite to all such concerns.
Tibet refused to surrender Tawang, partly because of the importance attached to the Tawang Monastery.In 1938 the British made a move to assert sovereignty over Tawang by sending a small military column under Capt. G.S. Lightfoot to Tawang.
The invasion was met with strong resistance from the Tibetan government, a serious protest was lodged against the British Indian government.
After the outbreak of the war between China and Japan in 1941, the government of Assam undertook a number of 'forward policy' measures to tighten their hold on the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) area, which later became Arunachal Pradesh. In 1944 administrative control was extended over the area of the Tawang tract lying South of the Sela Pass when J.P. Mills set up an Assam Rifles post at Dirang Dzong and sent the Tibetan tax-collectors packing. Tibetan protests were brushed aside. However, no steps were taken to evict Tibet from the area north of the pass which contained Tawang town.
The situation continued after India's independence but underwent a decisive change in 1950 when Tibet lost its autonomy and was incorporated into the newly established People's Republic of China. In February 1951, India sent an official with a small escort and several hundred porters to Tawang and took control of the remainder of the Tawang tract from the Tibetans, removing the Tibetan administration.
The Indian efforts were warmly welcomed by the native population as a respite from an oppressive feudal regime. During the Sino-Indian war of 1962, Tawang fell briefly under Chinese control, but China voluntarily withdrew its troops at the end of the war and Tawang returned to Indian administration. But China has not relinquished its claims on most of Arunachal Pradesh including Tawang.
In Next post we will decode the message behind this clash