In a significantly attentive move towards the security of Northeast India, the Indian Army will be inducting 50-60,000 troops in Arunachal Pradesh to counter Chinese military presence and infrastructure across the International Border. This move will also result in the build up of infrastructure on the Indian side of the border.
According to a Reuters report, the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh and former Army Chief General JJ Singh said, “Two army divisions comprising 25,000 to 30,000 soldiers each will be deployed along the border in Arunachal.”
The Indian Air Force (IAF) had announced the stationing of Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft in the Northeast in Tezpur in Assam around two weeks back. The IAF later plans to station the aircraft at Chabua in Assam, which is located quite close to Arunachal Pradesh, besides Jodhpur in Rajasthan and Halwara in Punjab. The IAF had also said it would be building airstrips and Advanced Landing Grounds (AGLs) in the Northeast, to enable greater deployment and force projection. The Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft are to arrive in Tezpur next Monday. The IAF has also been revived/constructed ALGs at Daulat Beg Oldie and in Chushul, close to the Aksai Chin region.
Informed sources told StratPost, “Two mountain divisions are likely to be raised for stationing in Arunachal Pradesh. This is going to double our present strength in the state. The idea is to tell the Chinese that we know they’re there and that we’re there as well.” At present two divisions are stationed in Arunachal Pradesh, elements of which are also deployed in Assam. The addition of two more divisions will take the number of Indian Army troops to around 120,000 in Arunachal Pradesh. StratPost has been informed that this could ultimately result in the raising of another corps in Arunachal Pradesh.
There have been continuing border disputes between India and China, especially after the 1962 war. China has since occupied the Aksai Chin area in Jammu and Kashmir, and has subsequently constructed major infrastructure there. China’s National Highway 219 is strategically important as it connects Tibet and Xinjiang through the Aksai Chin. China also lays claim to the Tawang region in western Arunachal Pradesh and has been encroaching upon Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh as well as Sikkim, in the process also being diplomatically ambiguous over its recognition of Sikkim as a part of India.
In recent times, reports have indicated ‘creeping incursions’ by China upon the difficult-to-patrol border areas in Arunachal Pradesh. This has often been blamed on the lack of infrastructure on the Indian side, which makes it difficult for Indian border troops to patrol the frontier effectively. Indian troops currently patrol most of the difficult terrain on foot, often being unable to monitor vast areas of the border.
China on the other hand has constructed significant infrastructure including railways and highways across the border and are in a significantly stronger position in terms of ability to rapidly deploy military forces. China has plans to extend the Lhasa railway to Chumbi valley on the border with Sikkim and thence to Nyingchi on the border with Arunachal Pradesh. This will enable the Chinese PLA (People’s Liberation Army) to deploy troops rapidly throughout the region. The Indian Railways’ network is yet to enter Arunachal Pradesh or Sikkim.
StratPost has been further informed this step is also a measure at giving a robust push towards infrastructure in the state. “Naturally, we can’t just send 60,000 troops there and then expect them to get on without infrastructure. That infrastructure in terms of roads and bases for communication, transport and maintaining a presence will be built up too.”