The “large 100-home civilian village” mentioned in a Pentagon report to US Congress on Chinese construction in disputed territory along Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh has long become a permanent military camp of the PLA, according to a senior official deputed by the state government last year to do a field assessment.
Additional deputy commissioner DJ Borah, posted in Kaduka division of Upper Subansiri, reported that the disputed area overrun by the PLA was far from a civilian settlement when he conducted the 2020 survey. “What we saw were several big houses that looked like installations built for military purposes. I was told that when the Chinese PLA captured this area in 1962, they had just small posts there,” Borah told TOI.
The mountainous area where structures built by the PLA now stands used to be the last post of the Indian Army until the 1962 War. Back then, the post was called Maza Camp. After the area was declared a disputed zone, the existing Army camp came up 4-5km inside Indian territory.
The disputed land that the Chinese have taken over originally belonged to the Tagin community. In Arunachal Pradesh, full land ownership was the exclusive privilege of the community, tribe or clan until 2018, when the Arunachal Pradesh (Land Settlement and Records) (Amendment) created a provision for individuals to own land without anyone else having any claim to it.
When the symbolic McMahon Line was identified as the boundary between British-governed India and Tibet in 1914, the land was split into two and the Tagins got divided as well, just the way the Naga community got bifurcated by the geographical boundary between India and Myanmar.