New Delhi: Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who is on a two-day visit to Arunachal Pradesh to review security preparedness in the region, on Thursday said people living in the border areas are not ordinary citizens, but they are the country’s strategic assets.

The Defence Minister said that he remembers when the AN-32 aircraft had crashed. He said that it is the local people who gave information about its crash.

“People living in border areas are not ordinary citizens but they are our strategic assets. I still remember when #AN32 aircraft had crashed, it is with the help of locals that we got information about the crash site,” Rajnath Singh said while addressing a gathering in Tawang of Arunachal Pradesh.

As per updates, on June 13, all the 13 bodies of Indian Air Force personnel onboard the AN-32 transport aircraft and the black box were recovered. The families of all 13 IAF personnel onboard the AN32 aircraft that went missing on June 3, were informed that no survivor could be traced from its crash site near Lipo in Arunachal Pradesh.

The Russian-made aircraft had taken off from Jorhat on June 3 at 12.27 PM for the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground and its lost contact with the ground control was at 1 PM on the same day.

The Defence Minister visited Tawang to review security preparedness, and laid a wreath at the Tawang War Memorial, the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

As part of his visit, the Defence Minister on Friday will visit an Army post in Bum La area. He will also inaugurate an important river bridge there.

Located at a height of more than 4,500 metres above sea level, Bum La Pass is a strategically important place for the country as it was this route through which China’s People’s Liberation Army invaded India in 1962.

The Defence Minister’s visit to Tawang comes a month after he assured that the Centre was dedicated to “effectively deal with any threats that undermine the peace and tranquillity” in the country by bolstering infrastructure in border areas, stated news agency ANI.

While inaugurating a strategically important ‘Col Chewang Rinchen Setu’ on October 21, Rajnath Singh had noted that the need of the hour was to strengthen borders.

The Defence Minister had then, as quoted by news agency ANI, said, “Border area development is an integral part of our government’s plan and this bridge is a part of that strategy.” Notably, Col Chewang Rinchen Setu is India’s highest altitude all-weather permanent bridge in eastern Ladakh.