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Army alert on China

New Delhi, Sept. 11: Delhi may play down Beijing’s posturing in Arunachal Pradesh but a concerned Indian Army is raising two more divisions, or about 30,000 men, in the Northeast.

The army has sounded an operational alert on the India-China Line of Actual Control (LAC) after reports of a Chinese military exercise involving 50,000 troops in Tibet, where Beijing has increased its activities. Correspondingly, the Indian Army is said to be conducting an operations exercise in Arunachal.

Sources said one of the two new divisions would be stationed in Arunachal to take care of the China-India-Myanmar axis and the other at Leimakhong, 20km from Imphal, to cover the Bangladesh-India-Myanmar axis. One of the divisions is already being raised, sources said.

Although the two divisions together make up a Corps’ strength, they would be separated and placed under the respective controls of the 3 Corps and 4 Corps, sources said. The division at Leimakhong will be under the 3 Corps, based at Rangapahar near Dimapur in Nagaland. The one in Arunachal will be under the 4 Corps, based in Upper (eastern) Assam.

Army chief General Deepak Kapoor today met Corps commanders and top officers of the Eastern Command in Calcutta, apparently to discuss China, which has built highways parallel to the LAC with approach roads intruding into Arunachal.

The divisions are being raised fast and army officers have been issued posting orders to various locations. Troops have been pulled out of army units from across the country. The 57 Mountain Division in Manipur is expected to move to southern Assam.

On the flip side, moving in a new division and moving out an existing one would mean additional responsibilities for the Assam Rifles in Manipur. Till now, militancy in Manipur has been handled mainly by the army but with a new division busy raising its troops, the paramilitary force will come under severe test.

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