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Tapir Gao — BJP MP who claimed ‘abduction’ of Arunachal youth keeps flagging China ‘incursions’

Gao’s tweet created an uproar, drawing attention of Opposition politicians. Two-time Arunachal East MP has talked about various ‘incursions’ by the Chinese army into his state.

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Guwahati: Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Arunachal Pradesh, Tapir Gao, wrote on Twitter this week that a 17-year-old youth was abducted by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) from the Upper Siang district. Predictably, it caused consternation across the country.

Miram Taron, the tweet said, was taken from the Lungta Jor area inside Indian territory. Gao further requested all government agencies “to step up for his early release”. 

Gao’s tweet went viral and was shared by several prominent social media users, including Congress leaders Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Randeep Singh Surjewala, who were critical of the Narendra Modi government over the incident. Rahul Gandhi also questioned Prime Minister Modi’s silence over this. 

The Indian Army then contacted the PLA and asked it to locate the youth and return Miram. The Chinese foreign ministry Thursday said it was unaware of any such incident.  

Interestingly, this is not the first time that the MP has set off an alarm after flagging incidents of ‘Chinese incursions’ on the Arunachal-China border. ThePrint tells you more about the lawmaker from Arunachal Pradesh. 

Also read: ‘No Chinese village in Arunachal, construction is on their side’, says CM Pema Khandu

Tapir Gao’s claims

Born on 1 October 1964, Gao has twice been the MP for Arunachal East — one of the two Lok Sabha constituencies from the state — winning elections in 2004 and 2019 for the BJP, and losing in 2009 and 2014. 

Arunachal East covers the districts of Upper Siang, East Siang, Dibang Valley, Lower Dibang Valley, Lohit, Anjaw, Changlang and Tirap.  

Several of these districts share a border with China. 

In recent years, Gao has often made headlines for his statements over the alleged border incursions by China. 

In January 2021, he was reported to have said that the neighboring country had been occupying areas in Arunachal Pradesh since the 1980s. 

“Since ’80s, China has been constructing roads. They’ve built Longju to Maza road. During Rajiv Gandhi’s regime, China occupied Sumdorong Chu Valley in Tawang. The then Army chief planned an op but Rajiv Gandhi denied him permission to push back PLA,” he was quotes as saying by agency ANI

“There was a wrong policy of the government during the Congress regime. They didn’t construct roads up to the border, which left a buffer zone of three-four km, which China occupied. Construction of new villages isn’t a new thing, it’s all inherited from Congress,” he added.

In September 2019, Gao had claimed that the Chinese army had intruded into the state’s remote Anjaw district and constructed a wooden bridge over a stream. The Indian Army, however, had dismissed the matter, saying the ‘incident’ hadn’t taken place.

‘Effort to highlight border areas’

An Arunachal Pradesh MLA who didn’t wish to be named told ThePrint that Gao’s consistent effort has only been to highlight what was happening in the border areas. 

“These kinds of incursions keep on happening and at times the state’s political parties are also unaware of what the government of India’s policies are. So, at times, they think they should not speak up and sometimes they think they should speak up,” he said. 

“I’ve heard that Tapir Gao has at times been told by the party not to speak about the issue. He’s a rebel with a cause, he wants to tell what is happening,” the MLA said. 

In December last year, Gao came to loggerheads with BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy over the issue of incursions. Swamy claimed Gao told him he wanted him to focus on Arunachal as the Chinese army had already “crossed” the McMahon Line. Gao denied Swamy’s claims, saying he had only been referring to incursions that had taken place in the previous Congress regime. 

Beyond the issue of Chinese incursions, Gao had also been mired in a “sex scandal” in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, after a purported video of him and an unidentified woman did the rounds on social media. 

At the time, the MP had denied any involvement, claiming that he was a “victim of blackmail by unscrupulous persons” from the BJP.

(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)

Also read: Forget Chinese objection to Naidu’s Arunachal visit, don’t vacate high-altitude LAC bunkers


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