China building ‘dual use’ villages along LAC: Lt General Manoj Pande | India News

China building ‘dual use’ villages along LAC: Lt General Manoj Pande | India News

RUPA: China has cranked up its integrated military exercises and kept reserve troop formations mobilised, while it also continues to construct “dual-use” border villages and troop habitats, Eastern Army Command chief Lt General Manoj Pande said on Tuesday.
India, in turn, is ensuring full operational preparedness to take care of any contingency along the frontier.
‘Working to mitigate threat to Chicken’s Neck’
India also assiduously works towards mitigating the threat to the vulnerable Siliguri Corridor or the “Chicken’s Neck”, eastern Army Command chief Lt-General Manoj Pande said. The government is also examining whether the existing border pacts with China, including the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) inked in October 2013, should be reviewed in wake of the continuing 17-month-long military confrontation in eastern Ladakh.
Lt-Gen Pande, on his part, said Indian Army’s efforts “have been to respect the bilateral agreements and protocols” and “not show any aggression” in keeping with “our larger strategic guidance”, notwithstanding the actions or responses from the People’s Liberation Army. “But consequent to what happened (in eastern Ladakh) and what we need to do in the future, this is something I reckon is being looked at the highest levels,” he added.
Many PLA reserve formations, which were mobilised last year, continue to remain in place in “depth areas” across the 1,346-km border that Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim share with the Tibet Autonomous Region in the eastern sector. “There has also been an increase in the scale and duration of PLA exercises, with a focus on integrated joint operations, this year. But these exercises are taking place in their traditional training areas in the depth,” said Lt-Gen Pande.
On the Line of Actual Control, there has been “a marginal increase” in Chinese patrols and the number of border defence troops in several areas like Asaphila due to infrastructure development. “But we have adequate force-levels in every sector. In the eastern command, we are ensuring that our preparedness, our ability to react to any contingency remains very high. We are also maximising the use of technology for ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance),” he said.
The Siliguri Corridor, the narrow strip of land that connects the northeast with the rest of India, however remains a major concern. The 73-day face-off at Doklam near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction in 2017 began after Indian troops blocked Chinese attempts to extend a motorable track towards the Jampheri Ridge, which overlooks the Siliguri Corridor.
The fallout has been that the PLA has constructed military infrastructure and permanently deployed troops in north Doklam. With China keen on controlling Doklam, it last week also inked an MoU with Bhutan for expediting their bilateral boundary negotiations. “Yes, the Siliguri Corridor is sensitive for us. We are looking at a ‘whole of nation’ approach, with the armed forces, Central Armed Police Forces, central agencies and state governments working together, to mitigate this threat,” said Lt-Gen Pande.
Both India and China are “fully aware of each other sensitivities” in the region. The officer said he did not fully agree that there was stark military asymmetry with China.

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