The Telegraph
Saturday , June 10 , 2017
 
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China border beef-up plan

New Delhi, June 9: The Narendra Modi government has decided to deploy more border guards along the Chinese frontier, the theatre of a boundary dispute and perennial tensions over alleged intrusions.

"The Centre recently decided to increase the presence of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) by 6,000 troops, given the transgressions by the Chinese People's Armed Police," a Union home ministry official said.

"Over the past few years, our security agencies have found and dismantled surveillance equipment that China's People's Liberation Army had installed in Ladakh."

The ITBP protects the 3,488km border with China that passes through the five states of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

On the Chinese side, the People's Armed Police, also a paramilitary force, guards the border, with the People's Liberation Army stationed behind this first line of defence.

The strains in the India-China relationship have worsened recently. Last month, India had cited issues of sovereignty to boycott Chinese President Xi Jinping's summit on the One Belt One Road (Obor) connectivity project, a part of which runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Spooked by Obor, Union home minister Rajnath Singh had met the chief ministers of the five states bordering China.

Earlier in April, the border dispute had touched a new low when China "renamed" six towns in Arunachal, parts of which Beijing claims as its territory.

"The home ministry has asked the ITBP brass to be extremely vigilant against any Chinese offence along the border areas. The need to increase the ITBP presence was felt following the frequent border skirmishes, mostly in Ladakh, and intrusions by the Chinese army," a ministry official said.

He recalled how a group of Chinese soldiers had intruded into the Depsang plains of Ladakh in 2014 and camped there for nearly a fortnight, triggering diplomatic and border tensions.

Last November, Chinese troops had stopped the construction of a canal, taken up under the rural job guarantee scheme, at Demchok in Ladakh. Troops from India's army and the ITBP had been rushed to the spot to rein in the 50-odd Chinese soldiers.

While India and China have for years been talking to sort out their boundary dispute, both have been ramping up their border infrastructure, often leading to skirmishes.

The Centre is building 73 roads of operational significance along the China border. Intelligence reports say that China too has been enhancing its border infrastructure by building roads, bridges, a railway network and airports.

Beijing had last year objected to India's plan for building an 1,800km highway along Arunachal's borders with China and Myanmar, from Tawang in the west to Vijaynagar in the east

On Monday, Rajnath is to meet the chief ministers of the four northeastern states - Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal and Nagaland -that share India's 1,643km border with Myanmar. They are to discuss the cross-border movement of militants and arms.


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