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‘Tit for Tat’: Assam CM Himanta Biswa calls for the Centre to rename 60 places in Tibet over China renaming places in Arunachal Pradesh

"My request to the Government of India will be that we should give 60 geographical names to the Tibetan area of China," Sarma said while on the sidelines of an election rally in Assam’s Karbi Anglong.

Being responsive to China’s issuance of a fourth list of 30 new names for various places in Arunachal Pradesh, BJP stalwart and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma stated on Tuesday (2nd April) that he would like the Government of India to rename 60 places in Tibet as ‘tit for tat’.

“My request to the Government of India will be that we should give 60 geographical names to the Tibetan area of China,” Sarma said while on the sidelines of an election rally in Assam’s Karbi Anglong. “It should always be tit for tat but I don’t want to comment because it is a policy decision of the Government of India. But if they have named 30, we should name 60,” he added.

His Arunachal counterpart Pema Khandu meanwhile condemned China’s act. “Another gimmick from China. Being a proud citizen of Bharat and a native of Arunachal Pradesh, I strongly condemn this act of naming places within Arunachal Pradesh which has been an inalienable and integral part of India,” Khandu wrote on X.

The continuing verbal battle between India and China escalated as Beijing produced another list of standardized geographical names in Arunachal Pradesh, which it acknowledges as Zangnan. Thirty new publicly used names in the region have been made official. This is the fourth such list, with the first three published in 2017, 2021, and 2023.

India rejected China’s attempts to claim the region as part of its territory. “We categorically condemn such attempts. Assigning invented names will not change the fact that Arunachal Pradesh is, has always been, and will remain a vital and inalienable part of India,” stated Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal. External Minister S Jaishankar also responded to China’s list of names, saying, “If I change the name of your house today, will it become mine?”

The opposition meanwhile chastised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for their “subdued response”. Former finance minister P Chidambaram has stated that instead of straining relations between India and Sri Lanka over the Katchatheevu island problem after 50 years, PM Modi and S Jaishankar should demonstrate their belligerence towards China.

“Let the government show its belligerence to China. Under the BJP government, China has occupied 2000 square km of Indian territory and is fortifying the area. China is on a re-naming spree and is merrily changing the names of villages and landmarks. Why is the Foreign Minister subdued in his response to the actions of China?” he asked.

Recently, on Tuesday (19th March), India rejected the “absurd claims” and “baseless arguments” made by China on Arunachal Pradesh, asserting that the northeastern State of India is an “integral and inalienable part of India.” The Ministry of External Affairs said that the people of Arunachal Pradesh will continue to benefit from India’s development plans and infrastructure projects.

This is after the Chinese defense ministry on 15th March again tried to claim the Indian state, referring to it as “Zangnan- an inherent part of China’s territory”. India has time and again denied China’s territorial claims on its Northeastern state, stating that the state is an integral part of the country. New Delhi has also criticised Beijing’s move to give “invented” names to the territory, claiming that it does not change the facts. Notably, despite having no legal claim over Arunachal Pradesh, China has ‘named’ the territory “Zangnan”.

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