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Saturday, Jun 03, 2023

India ramps up security on border with China to record levels

India ramps up security on border with China to record levels

India has scaled up the presence of its troops to an unprecedented level along the border it shares with China after both sides clashed in a disputed area along the border in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh state, last week.

"Today, you have a deployment of the Indian army on China border that we never had. It is done to counter Chinese aggression,” said Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

“The Indian Army is deployed to counter any attempt to unilaterally change LAC (Line of Actual Control)," added Jaishankar, referring to the demarcation that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory.

Jaishankar has repeatedly said that the overall bilateral relationship cannot be normalised until there is peace on the borders.

On 9 December, hundreds of Indian and Chinese forces clashed along the LAC, the roughly 3,488 km contested boundary that separates northern India from China.

Neither side used firearms and no deaths were reported. But both Indian and Chinese forces sustained injuries.

India has said the clash occurred when Chinese troops unilaterally attempted to alter the status quo on the LAC.

The skirmish was the worst since the summer of 2020, when deadly fighting in the Galwan Valley led to the most significant border escalation in more than four decades where 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese troops died.

This week, the cabinet committee on security approved the purchase of 17 high-resolution cameras for the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) to monitor the activities of Chinese forces, amid simmering tension.

The ITBP is in charge of staffing 180 border outposts in the western, middle, and eastern Himalayas, from the Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Bum La in Arunachal Pradesh, and defending the India-China border with the army.

Latest flashpoint

Security officials pointed out that China has deployed more than 70,000 troops along the frontier in eastern Ladakh and continues to build infrastructure inside India-claimed friction points.

“The Chinese have also been mobilising more men and machinery into the Galwan Valley and other stand-off points, where both armies have carried out partial disengagement,” an army official told RFI.

“They have also deployed a large number of surveillance drones over the buffer zones created within India-claimed lines to keep an eye on the movements of Indian troops.”

Security officials pointed out that the Indian army had carried out a matching troop deployment considering the threat from the Chinese army.

The clashes on the border have led to a political uproar in India, with opposition parties walking out of parliament after their demand for an immediate discussion of the border situation was denied.

Rahul Gandhi, leader of India's main opposition Congress party, accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP-led government of ignoring the threat from China.

“It is a full offensive preparation. The government of India is sleeping. It does not want to hear this, but they (China) are preparing not for an incursion, but for war,” Gandhi had said.

The two countries have fought only one war in 1962, when India suffered a defeat.

The military stand-off is mirrored by growing political tension, which has strained ties between both countries.

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