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China has agreed to stop road-construction activity across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) near Bishing in Tuting area of Arunachal Pradesh, with Indian troops returning the two earth excavators and other equipment seized from Chinese workers in the region last month.
“The Tuting incident has been resolved. A border personnel meeting (BPM) was held two days ago,” said Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Monday. As for Doklam near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction, where the rival troops were locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation for 73 days before finally disengaging on August 28, Gen Rawat said there was a major reduction in the number of soldiers on the Chinese side.
The BPM in Arunachal Pradesh, with brigade commanders from the two sides leading the talks, was held on January 6. It was in late-December that Chinese road-construction personnel had intruded almost a kilometer into Indian territory near the Bishing village in the Upper Siang district of the state but were forced to retreat after being stopped by Indian troops, who seized their two excavators and other equipment on December 28, as was reported earlier by media.
Unlike the belligerence shown during the Doklam standoff, the Chinese troops this time “reacted very maturely to accept that the differing perception of the LAC” had led its construction workers “to inadvertently transgress” into Indian territory near the Bishing village. “They assured us they will take care to ensure their construction personnel do not cross over into our side again,” said an officer.
But road alignment and construction bids as well as troop transgressions across the 4,057-km LAC, which stretches from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, are highly unusual in winter months. It is an indication of the heightened tensions between the two armies after the Doklam stand-off, which saw both armies move additional infantry battalions, tanks, artillery and missile units forward towards the LAC.
As was first reported by TOI, around 1,600 Chinese troops have established a permanent presence in the Bhutanese territory of Doklam, with the construction of two helipads, upgraded roads, scores of pre-fabricated huts, shelters and stores to withstand the chill in the high-altitude region.
The Tuting area, incidentally, has never really been a “hotspot” for India-China border tensions, unlike the other “8-10 disputed areas” along the border in Arunachal Pradesh. Among these disputed areas are Asaphila, a remote 100 sq km area in Upper Subansiri division of the state, and the so-called “Fish Tail-I and II” areas in Chaglagam sector, which take its name from the shape the LAC takes in the region.
Arunachal incident has been resolved: Army Chief
The transgression incident in Arunachal Pradesh, where Chinese workers entered Indian territory constructing a track, has been resolved, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said on Monday.
He also said that there was a major reduction in the number of Chinese troops in the Doklam area.
Speaking on the sidelines of an event here, the Army Chief said the “Tuting incident has been resolved”.
General Rawat said a Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) took place “two days back” on the issue.
Talking about the situation along the India-China border in Sikkim sector, where the two countries were involved in a 73-day-long standoff in Doklam, he said there was a major reduction in the number of troops on the Chinese side.
A Chinese road construction party entered India on December 26, 2017, and were constructing a track, around two kilometres away from the nearest Indo-Tibetan Border Police post.
An almost 600-metre-long and 12-feet wide track was constructed on the Indian territory when the Chinese party was stopped.
The Chinese labourers had entered the area inadvertently, according to a government report on the incident. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops were not involved in the incident.
Indian troops pushed back the labourers and seized their equipment.
The incident came nearly four months after the end of the Dokalam standoff that went on from June 16 to August 28, 2017.
Earlier, speaking at the Army Technology Summit here, the Army Chief pitched for modernisation of the force and said India needed to be ready for “future wars”.
“There is a huge requirement of modernisation of our armed forces, in every field,” he said.
“Future wars will be fought in difficult terrains and circumstances and we have to be prepared for them.
“We would like to gradually move away from imports (in defence technology) because for a nation like ours, the time has come to ensure that we fight the next war with home-made solutions,” he said.
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