Espionage scare in Arunachal

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By ATONU CHOUDHURRI
  • Published 26.05.10
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Itanagar, May 25: Spies, masquerading as research scholars, social workers and tourists, are lurking in the hills of Arunachal Pradesh — a fact that was reinforced by the arrest of a suspected Chinese spy in Lohit district on May 18.

“Donning the garb of environmentalists, researchers, social workers often helps them escape the prying eyes of security agencies to carry out espionage activities,” a highly placed source in the security establishment told The Telegraph.

“The arrest of a Chinese national, Guan Liang, 28, from Digaru village of Lohit district last week can open Pandora’s Box, exposing startling facts to add to the discomfiture of security officials. It can be the tip of the iceberg and an eye-opener,” the security official said.

Guan, who admitted to have sneaked into Indian territory through Kibithu, one of the most difficult mountainous paths, indicated in a subsequent interrogation his “espionage” attempts.

Arunachal Pradesh home commissioner, T. Taloh, did not directly deny such instances but said the ministry of home affairs is the ultimate authority to curb movement of suspected persons.

“There may be some instances but I am not authorised to comment on that,” Taloh said today.

The incident may have been a wake-up call for the Centre, but Arunachal Pradesh, which shares a 1,080-km-long border with China, 440km with Myanmar and 160km with Bhutan, is not new to such attempts at espionage.

Another Chinese man was arrested on suspicion of being a spy from Namsai in Lohit in 1999, a police official said.

“Many of them (spies) were debarred from entering India after the ministry of home affairs gathered sufficient proof to establish them as spies,” the official, who did not wish to be quoted, said.

There are instances of “espionage” activities by Americans, British and Tibetans in the state. Lynn Roberts, a US national, who worked as a member of the Inner Asia Conservation, a US-based NGO, came to Itanagar in 1998 for the first time.

Suspected to be a “spy” working for the US, he left Arunachal Pradesh after being chased by sleuths. He was blacklisted by the ministry of home affairs and was debarred from entering the country. But the man then assumed a new name, John Miceler, masqueraded as a researcher and again visited the state in 2005, before being blacklisted again.

In a span of seven years, he visited the state five times after entering Arunachal Pradesh for the first time in 1998 on a tourist visa. But soon he was found guilty of flouting visa norms.

Christopher Roy Jenkins, a Briton, who arrived in Itanagar on the invitation of the Botanical Survey of India in March 2008 to deliver lectures at seminar as a botanist, was also debarred from entering the country in March 2009 after the sleuths found him guilty by tracking his activities.

A Tibetan, Tenzing Kalsang, who worked with Man-Tse-Khang, an astrological and medicinal institute at Itanagar, was blacklisted in 2006 after the officials found his stay “objectionable” from the security point of view.

There was also a report of arrest of a Chinese “spy” from Tawang during the visit of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, last year. The security agencies, however, remained tightlipped about it.