Army chief Gen Rawat to visit N-E today

Army chief Gen Rawat to visit N-E today

Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat is scheduled to visit the Northeastern states, including Sikkim, on Thursday to review the security scenario near the sensitive Sino-India border, where a palpable tension exists between the frontier forces of the two nations.

Tension stemmed from the destruction of an old Indian bunker by a Chinese bulldozer near the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction in Sikkim after New Delhi did not agree to Beijing’s request for dismantling the structure.

The incident occurred in the first week of June near Lalten post in the Doka La area of Sikkim. This led to a face-off between the two border guarding forces and China also refused to allow 47 Indian pilgrims on Kailash Manasarovar Yatra from crossing into China from Nathu La border check post.

Gen Rawat is likely to receive briefings from top officials of Siliguri-based 33 Corps, which looks after the Sino-Indian border in Sikkim. The Corps has three mountain divisions at Gangtok (17 Div), Binaguri (20 Div) and Kalimpong (27 Div) to take care of different segments of India's border with China and Bhutan.

The bone of contention between the two sides is construction of a new Class-40 road (for heavy vehicle movement) being constructed by China in Doklam Plateau that overlooks Chumbi Valley, a strategically significant area for controlling the Siliguri Corridor – a narrow stretch of land that connects India's seven Northeastern states with the rest of the country.

Beijing is understood to have raised objections in the past on New Delhi building new bunkers and upgrading older ones along the border in Sikkim to augment its defences against China’s People’s Liberation Army.

Of the 3,488-km long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim.

The Doka La area is not new to border disputes. In 2007, the Indian Army moved an entire brigade of its 27 Division and an additional battalion (close to 6,000 troops) to Kalimpong following an increase in Chinese activities in that area.

The troops were deployed for anti-insurgency operations since 2001. Since then, China has enormously improved its border infrastructure while India lagged behind.

Cabinet hikes Siachen allowance

The Cabinet on Wednesday doubled the Siachen Allowance for armed forces personnel deployed on the glacier, besides raising 18 other allowances for security personnel, reports DHNS from New Delhi.

The Siachen Allowance will now go up from the existing rate of Rs 14,000 to Rs 30,000 per month for jawans and junior commissioned officers and from Rs 21,000 to Rs 42,500 per month for officers. “This has been done to recognise the extreme nature of risk and hardship faced by the officers and PBOR (personnel below officer’s rank) on the Siachen glacier,” Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said after the Cabinet meeting.

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