Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chinese intrusions become frequent


NEW DELHI: China continues to intrude into Indian territory in the real as well as virtual worlds with sheer impunity. Along with mounting cyber-attacks, China persists in needling India all along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC).

At least three incursions by motorised armed patrols of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in the strategically-located Trig Heights and Pangong Tso lake were recorded during last week, said sources on Monday.

Chinese "transgressions'' into these sectors in Eastern Ladakh this year have registered "a sharp jump'', ranging from 27% to 52%, as compared to the same timeframe in 2009. "Just in Trig Heights area, for instance, almost 30 Chinese transgressions have already been witnessed this year,'' said a source.

Similarly, both the north and south banks of Pangong Tso, two-third of which is controlled by China as it extends from India to Tibet at an altitude of 4,218 metres, record incursions by Chinese foot, vehicle and boat patrols on a regular basis.

This continuing cat-and-mouse game to strengthen its claims over disputed areas is yet another indicator that China has very little intention of softening its posture in the protracted border talks with India to delineate the 4,057-km LAC.

Indian troops, of course, also indulge in similar moves but they are nowhere near as aggressive as the assertive border management policy of the 2.25-million strong PLA, which has already unnerved the Indian defence establishment with its massive build-up of military infrastructure in the border areas.

This flexing of muscles is not restricted to Eastern Ladakh alone. It spreads across all the three sectors -- western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal) -- of the LAC. "Chinese armed patrols, for instance, have intruded in the Asaphila sector of Arunachal as well this year,'' said a source.

Even Sikkim, which India considers to be "a settled matter'' after the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to China in 2003, has not been impervious to incursions across the state's 206-km border with Tibet. The so-called 2.1 sq km "finger area'', the northern-most tip of Sikkim, for instance, is still on China's radar screen.

The UPA government, however, continues to publicly downplay all these concerns. The consistent official line is that the transgressions take place due to "differing perceptions'' of the unresolved LAC, with both New Delhi and Beijing trying to "amicably resolve'' the issue through talks.

But the concern underneath can be gauged from the fact the Border Roads Organisation is now being pulled out of Naxal-hit areas to concentrate on infrastructure build-up in forward areas.

This has become necessary because of the tardy progress in the construction of the 73 all-weather roads earmarked for the Sino-Indian border, with only a dozen ready till now.

Then, of course, apart from beginning to base Sukhoi-30MKI fighters in North-East as well as upgrading airstrips and helipads, India is also raising two new specialised infantry mountain divisions (35,000 soldiers) and an artillery brigade for Arunachal Pradesh.

India also plans to progressively base six surface-to-air Akash missile squadrons in the North-East to counter the threat posed by Chinese fighters, helicopters and drones in the region.

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