Kibithu military garrison, a key military station guarding the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh was bustling with activities on Saturday morning.
From troops to men and women from the nearby villages, hundreds gathered at the picturesque military base for a dedication ceremony as the Indian Army camp was renamed Gen Bipin Rawat Military Garrison as a tribute to the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Gen Bipin Rawat was killed in a chopper crash near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu in December last year along with his wife and 12 other Army and IAF personnel.
Gen Rawat’s daughter Tarini Rawat and top dignitaries, including Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Governor Brig B D Mishra (Retd), Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen R P Kalita and 3 Corps GOC Lt Gen R C Tiwari had flown to attend the event. A traditional dance was performed to welcome dignitaries as they disembarked at the helipad ahead of the event.
Nestled in Lohit Valley, the military garrison is characterised by green towering hills that often trap clouds, arduous terrains and flowing rivulets beneath.
Contributions to Kibithu Area
Officials said the reason for choosing this military base for the renaming was clear as Gen Rawat had made a significant contribution to strengthening the security structure of the remote Kibithu area when he commanded his Battalion 5/11 Gorkha Rifles as a Colonel from 1999-2000.
During his tenure, a feature called Bogra near Kibithu was christened by him to commemorate the victory of the Battle of Bogra earned by his unit, 5/11 GR, in the 1971 Indo-Pak War. He also upgraded the garrison, synergised civil-military relations with locals and formalised the Border Personnel Meeting mechanism.
Strategic Military Base
Located just around five kilometres from the LAC, Chinese structures can be seen from the strategic base which is also the easternmost military garrison of India.
Till 1997, there were no roads to reach the far-flung Kibithu and the base was air maintained. A foot suspension bridge was the only link to the eastern bank of the Lohit river.
The military station is separated by a 22-km road stretch from Walong, which is the site where a historic battle was fought during the 1962 war between India and China. As part of the dedication ceremony, this stretch road stretch from Walong to Kibithu has now been named the Gen Bipin Rawat Marg.
“Best military station”
Addressing the crowd at the base, Chief Minister Khandu announced Rs 10 crore has been earmarked to make the garrison one of the best military stations in forward locations. Governor Mishra credited the CDS for the good performance of the Indian Army under his leadership in Jammu and Kashmir as well as the standoff with China on the eastern Ladakh border that began in May 2020.
A grand gate designed in line with the local traditional architecture named Gen Bipin Rawat Dwar was inaugurated and a life-size mural of the General was also unveiled.
Tapir Gao, a legislator from Arunachal Pradesh, said the locals are happy with the renaming. “General Rawat had an excellent rapport with the locals here when he was posted here. Many people remember him fondly here,” he told News18.
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