Govt to honour Bob Khathing

TAWANG, 15 Jan:  Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Friday announced that the state government would recognize the contribution of  Major Bob Khathing for officially bringing Tawang under the Indian rule way back in 1951.

Ralengnao Khathing, popularly known as Bob Khathing, is relatively an unknown figure for most of Arunachal and even India, but people of Tawang still remember him with respect for being the sole Indian official to come as their saviour when the Chinese threat loomed large.

Speaking at a function held to felicitate newly elected Gram Panchayat and Zilla Parishad members here today, Khandu said that a memorial will be constructed in honour of Major Khathing by the state government at a site to be decided by the district administration.

Khandu further informed that the foundation stone of the memorial will be laid on 14 February next, the day it is believed Major Khathing hoisted the tricolour in Tawang for the first time in 1951.

The memorial will also house a museum of Monpa tradition and a cafeteria, the CM said and added that  once the memorial is constructed, visitors will come to know about Major Khathing and his contributions while having a glimpse of Monpa life.

As per sources, Bob Khathing served in the British Army and fought the World War II. A British officer, finding the pronunciation of his name, ‘Relengnao’ as being a bit too difficult, decided to call him Bob, and that was the name Khathing came to be known by. During World War II, he served in the famous V Force and for his gallantry; he was awarded the Military Cross (MC). He also received the Award of Member of the British Empire (MBE).

He was inducted as an assistant political officer (APO) in November 1950 in Tirap division and was posted to Pasighat and then to Kameng division with headquarters at Charduar.

Major Bob Khathing is believed to have started on an arduous journey from Charduar with a team of soldiers from the 5 Assam Rifles on 17 January, 1951. This was the first expedition to negotiate extremely inhospitable terrain in sub-zero temperatures, and Bob Khathing with his team of Assam Rifles soldiers reached Tawang on 6 February, 1951 and  had established Indian presence up to the extent of the Mc Mahon Line.

He then interacted with numerous gaon burahs and quickly and effectively established authority over Tawang. The Indian administrative presence was thus established in this remote part of the country.

“This memorial will be our tribute to Maj Bob Khathing,” added Khandu. (CMO)