India conscious of Chinese presence in Indian Ocean region

Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju (left) and Director General, Infantry, Lt. Gen. Jasbir Singh release a book 'Chinese WMD Proliferation in Asia: US Response' by Monika Chansoria in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI

India is conscious of the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean region and is taking ''adequate measures'' to make sure that its neighbourhood is not threatened, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju on Thursday said.

''China being a regional power will make its moves and if we sense a threat to our internal security we will do some counter measures," he told reporters here on the sidelines of homeland security seminar.

However, "we need to give China the benefit of doubt that they are also in their quest to safeguard their sea lanes of communication because they have their energy resources passing through this (Indian Ocean).

"They are taking some steps. We have to make sure that that it is not intrusive and they will not come into our space. Towards that end we are conscious of what China is doing and we are making adequate measures to make sure that our neighbourhood is not threatened," Raju said.

On Beijing acquiring anti-satellite capabilities for space-age warfare, he said India was against militarisation of space.

But space assets would have to be utilised in warfare in the years to come and India was also preparing itself for taking adequate counter measures to this Chinese capability, he said.

"The frontier of space, which includes utilisation of satellites, will continue to be a growing area of warfare. India has stated in the past that it is against militarisation of space. But space assets have to be utilised in warfare in the years to come and we are also preparing for it to take adequate counter measures," Raju said.

He also pointed out to the growing trade between the two Asian giants and said China would not be a problem because of economic factors.

"The emphasis and focus is on (bilateral) trade, which is increasing at a rapid rate.
Although we share a large border, we have not had any skirmishes. So I do not see any reason why they should be a problem on that front. As a regional power, they will take steps to increase their military prowess and we will do in our case," he said.

On the nearly USD 140-million US military aid to Pakistan, with which Islamabad may acquire Predator drones used by NATO forces in Afghanistan against Taliban, Raju said when technology was being used for countering Taliban forces, there was a chance it may fall into wrong hands. "I am sure they will take adequate steps to prevent this," he added.

The minister also warned about the danger of nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons falling into the hands of terrorists who have become more sophisticated and complex.

"In the future, there is the potential of terrorists acquiring advanced technology including NBC weapons and communication equipment. We may even see insurgents armed with nuclear devices or biological and chemical weapons, capable of massive destruction in localised areas.

After the horrific attacks on Mumbai last November, we have taken up the challenge to modernise and upgrade our security forces in a comprehensive manner. India should take precaution against the NBC threats," Raju said.

"We have to be prepared for any eventuality and NBC warfare is something for which we are also preparing for," he said.

He said the terrorists' objectives were becoming more ambitious with the intention of inflicting maximum damage. "Therefore, the task ahead is formidable."

The Minister said the nation faced threats to its internal security from abroad, while confronting militants in 160 districts across eastern and southern parts of the country.

He said paramilitary forces were being further strengthened and modernised.

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