By Manash Pratim Bhuyan :
KIBITHU (Arunachal Pradesh),
THE strategically key Kibithu military garrison on the banks of Lohit Valley along the Line of Actual Control and a key road in this mountain hamlet were on Saturday named after India’s first Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, around nine months after he died in a helicopter crash. As a young Colonel, Rawat commanded his Battalion 5/11 Gorkha Rifles at Kibithu from 1999-2000 and contributed immensely to strengthening the security structure in the area. The military garrison looks after the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the sensitive sector. Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Rima post is just opposite the Indian garrison. Nestled in the mountainous and arduous terrain of the Lohit Valley, Kibithu is located near the LAC and is the eastern-most military garrison of India. The small hamlet is inhabited by Meyor and Jarkin tribes. Lack of surface connectivity with the nearest road head at Meshai precluded movement to Kibithu which was air maintained till as late as 1997.
A foot suspension bridge (FSB 17) was the sole link to the eastern bank of the Lohit River. The garrison and the 22 km-long road stretch from Walong to Kibithu were named after General Rawat at a ceremony attended by Governor of Arunachal Pradesh Brigadier (retd) BD Mishra, Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Eastern Army Commander Lt General Rana Pratap Kalita and General Bipin Rawat’s daughter Tarini. Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Khandu announced a financial package of Rs 10 crore to make the garrison one of the best military stations in forward locations.