Itanagar, Nov 29 , Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu and US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti on Wednesday inaugurated ‘The Hump WW-II Museum’, the second museum in Asia dedicated to the fallen airmen of the Allied forces during World War II, at Pasighat in East Siang district.
While addressing the inaugural function, Garcetti said: “We come here today not just to mark history, but to make history. To see the ways with which each one of us is called not just to witness the past but to do something to change the future.”
Garcetti thanked the Centre and the Arunachal government and the team behind the museum headed by its Director, Oken Tayeng.
“This isn’t a gift only to Arunachal Pradesh or to the families whose lives will be affected when they come here, it is a gift to India and to the world,” he said.
Reiterating that the United States is committed to its friendship with India, the US Ambassador informed that on Wednesday there was a meeting between NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and top space officials of India to deepen bilateral cooperation across a broad range of innovation and research-related areas, especially in human exploration and Earth science.
He said that NASA this year would facilitate an Indian to be a part of space exploration from its station in the US.
Reminding that the US will always remain grateful to the people of Arunachal Pradesh for saving lives and helping US pilots and soldiers during WW II while flying over the Hump, Garcetti said that such ‘human values’ bind the two countries together in friendship.
“Today, how can we not but step up to be a great friend to India, to recognise her borders, all of them, and to respect them and to call on the world to do the same,” he said.
Khandu, while welcoming Garcetti and his entourage, said that ‘The Hump’ is a tribute from the people of Arunachal to the fallen heroes of WW II.
He said that history should not be allowed to fade away with time and expressed optimism that this museum will remind the younger generation of the daredevilry of the Allied forces who flew over the ‘Hump’ to fight against the threat to democracy and freedom.
Informing about the 30 locations, where remnants of WW II aircraft are still believed to exist, Khandu urged the US Ambassador to facilitate exploration to these locations to retrieve the remnants as he assured full support of the state government.
He also lauded the efforts put in by Oken Tayeng and his team for making his vision a reality.
The pilots of the Allied forces nicknamed the air-route from the airfields in Assam to those in Yunnan in China ‘The Hump’ because their aircraft had to navigate deep gorges and then quickly fly over mountains rising beyond 10,000 feet.
From 1942 to 1945, military aircraft transported nearly 6,50,000 tonnes of supplies like fuel, food and ammunition.
In 2016-17, the US Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) had deployed a team for 30 days in search of the remains of unaccounted-for US airmen.
There are approximately 400 US airmen missing in India, most of whose remains are believed to be located in the Himalayan mountains in the northeast, particularly in Arunachal Pradesh.