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September 24, 2014

Army’s Eastern Command wary of Chinese incursions in Arunachal


With the standoff with China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) continuing in the Chumar sector of northeast Ladakh, the Indian Army's Eastern Command has gone into a state of readiness to check any incursion from across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) into Arunachal Pradesh.

"It has been our experience that the Chinese start trouble in Ladakh and then turn their attention to Arunachal Pradesh. In April 2013, the PLA ventured into Indian territory in the Depsang area of Ladakh, pitched tents and stayed there for nearly 20 days. This was followed up by an incursion in the Chaglagam area of Arunachal Pradesh in August by the PLA. Chinese troops reportedly crossed over the LAC and occupied territory 20 km inside the Anjaw district for nearly four days. We are keeping our fingers crossed," a senior officer said.

There are long stretches along the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh where round the clock vigil is not possible. In the past, Indian Army troops on patrol have found evidence of PLA presence inside Indian territory. PLA soldiers make no efforts to remove evidence of their intrusions as China doesn't recognize Arunachal Pradesh and considers the state as its own territory.
"In the past, they have left behind banners 'informing' Indian troops that they are in Chinese territory. The 'fishtail' area - called so because of the unique shape of the LAC there - is particularly vulnerable. Indian patrols often come across temporary PLA camps where Chinese soldiers relaxed. The soldiers left behind half-empty beer cans, cigarette packets and butts in a casual manner to justify their presence in the area," the officer added.

In several parts of Arunachal Pradesh, particularly in inhospitable and mountainous terrain, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) mans outposts closer to the LAC than the Army. In 2013, it was the ITBP which sent information of the Chaglagam incursion to the Army. The Army then sent out patrols to verify the claim. Senior officers in the Eastern Command admit that India lacks infrastructure on its side of the LAC as compared to China.

"While the process of raising a mountain strike corps has begun, we still lack infrastructure in the form of border roads and railway tracks. Our troops have to be moved by air to advanced landing grounds and then trudge several miles to the advanced posts. They are kept supplied by mule trains. Fortunately, the government has now taken a decision to strengthen the border road network and done away with certain formalities that were a hindrance," another officer said. 
  - Times of india

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