Army apprehends more Chinese troops in Tibet
The new strike corps is expected to trigger a military reaction from China in the long run, though Beijing has not made any comment so far, possibly because there is no official announcement on the approval from the Indian government.
The response from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) may follow a pattern similar to what happened when the Indian Air Force introduced its front line fighter Su-30 MKI to the North-East, first in Tezpur and subsequently in Chabua.
Beijing responded by operationalising a permanent fighter base at Shigatse in Tibet autonomous region.
A second fighter base is also being planned. In addition, there is a civilian airport at Gonggar in Lhasa, which may also be used by the military.
China is now bringing its Tibet railway line to India’s doorstep. A railway line linking Lhasa to Zangmu on the Nepal border is being constructed. It will be eventually extended to Nepal.
This line will have two branches on the east and west. The eastern branch will link Zangmu to Shigatse and move further east right up to Yadong, on the mouth of the strategically important Chumbi Valley.
Yadong town is connected to Sikkim through the Nathu La pass and is located on the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan, where there are areas still disputed between China and Bhutan. The project is due for completion by 2017. “This line will create problems for India,” said an Army officer.
One of the two divisions of the mountain strike corps may be based in north Bengal and the second one in Assam.
With headquarters at Panagarh in West Bengal, the corps will have 18 battalions, two artillery brigades, one air defence brigade and one aviation brigade with three squadrons of helicopters.
There will also be support from the Air Force. But details on the Rs 65,000-crore mountain strike corps has been kept under wraps.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said: “From time to time, for national interest, whatever needs to be done are done at appropriate levels. We work for peace as much as we work for preparing for difficult times. If we make efforts for sustaining peace, then this not necessary but we have to be pragmatic. Details are not for everyone to know. Its confidential and sometimes we have to work under the radar.”