'Spike in Chinese troop incursions, but sanctity of LAC being maintained'

'Spike in Chinese troop incursions, but sanctity of LAC being maintained'

Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh today said there was a "spike" in incursions by Chinese troops in some sectors along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), but noted that the sanctity of the temporary boundary was being maintained.

Addressing the annual Army Day press conference, Singh said that there was "inadequacy" in terms of infrastructure along the boundary with China but plans were afoot to improve the situation.

"Let me be frank, somehow two incidents got hyped up last year. Even Indian soldiers are patrolling up to our perceived LAC... A certain amount of spike has been seen in certain areas, but let me assure you that our patrols are also going in those areas," Singh said, when asked about incursions by Chinese troops.

Last year, Chinese troops had pitched their tents in the Depsang area, 19km inside Indian territory, and left only after long parleys between the two sides.

They also apprehended Indian nationals near the Chumar area who were returned after several days' detention.

Singh said that the recently-signed Border Defence Cooperation Agreement had helped improve cooperation between the troops of either side. The file for establishing a DGMO- level hotline has also been sent in this regard, he added.

Asked to comment on the perception that the Army was not giving a tough response to the Chinese troops, he said some of the incidents were hyped, leading to people thinking that our troops were not working.

As to whether the lack of infrastructure was hampering Army operations along LAC, he said, "There is inadequacy at the moment but there are plans afoot. Last year, we have the allocation of Rs 9,200 crore for infrastructure and a CCS note has been prepared for Rs 28,000 crore for the 12th and 13th defence plans." 

Gen Singh said that there are steps being taken, "to improve the infrastructure. A large number of roads and rail lines are to be prepared. There are slippages and we need more focus on this".

The government has decided to outsource the road-building work to some established agencies, Singh said, adding that, at the same time, it would also build the capabilities of the Border Roads Organisation for the carrying out of such tasks.

Asked if he could assure that there would be no repeat of 1962, when India was humiliated by China in war, the Army chief said that such an eventuality was not possible now as India had well-developed capabilities of defending itself against any threat.

"A 1962 shall not happen again. Your Army is professional and has the capability," he said.

On the newly-raised Mountain Strike Corps, he said that on January 1 this year, the headquarter of the formation was raised at Ranchi while 22 of its units were raised on December 1 last year.

"The 59 Division has been raised at Panagarh in West Bengal, one brigade each has been raised in Eastern Command and Northern Command and all the formations are being raised under a well laid out plan," he said.

The Army Chief said that the Strike Corps was not just a war waging instrument but for "war prevention" as well. The Corps will be headquartered at Panagarh and has been raised at Ranchi temporarily till the infrastructure comes up at the West Bengal base.

Asked whether the force's plans to raise the Strike Corps would face difficulties in the economic slowdown, he said the fiscal situation "will impact us but the Defence Minister has assured that our requirements will be met." 

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