Chinese transgression, India capable of defending itself, says Army chief

Chinese transgression, India capable of defending itself, says Army chief

Though China is exerting pressure along the northern border, India is not a weak nation that it cannot defend itself, Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat asserted on Friday.

"Though China is a powerful country, we are not a weak nation either. We are capable of handling the assertiveness from the Chinese military," Gen Rawat said here during his annual media interaction ahead of Army Day.

The increased Chinese transgression stems from the fact that Indian troops have stepped up patrolling along the northern borders, even covering areas not visited by them in the past.

"We have increased the troops at Ladakh and they are patrolling more frequently. Due to increased patrolling, there are sometimes engagements and clash. They (China) have also increased their patrolling because of which there now appears to be more transgression," he said.

For instance, in 2017 there were 415 instances of transgressions from the Chinese side as against 271 a year before. Similarly there were 146 face-offs between Indian and Chinese border guarding troops in 2016, but the number rose to 216 in 2017.

The 3,488-km Line of Actual Control between India and China is a disputed and non-demarcated boundary where transgressions occur because of the two countries' "different perception" about the border.

"We need to shift our focus to the northern border where infrastructure development has to be accelerated. For too long we focussed on the western border," he said.

On the Doklam stand-off, Gen Rawat said there was always the possibility of Chinese troops returning once the snow melted as large number of items, including cots for People's Liberation Army soldiers, were left behind in the pre-fabricated structures that were set up for the PLA troops to stay in harsh weather.

Big advantage

Asked about the Tuting road construction incident in which a Chinese team entered almost 800 mt inside the Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh, he said the intrusion appeared to be a case of a mistaken alignment (of a road) that was sorted out.

"We are in the commanding position in the Siang valley (in Arunachal). Along the northern border, we have tremendous advantage. The situation is not similar to 1962," the Army Chief said, referring to the war five and a half decades ago that India lost to China.

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