“More Indian troops on China border

* 15,000 troops stationed in Manipur to counter threat from Chinese influence in Myanmar

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: Is a repeat of the 1962 Sino-India war looming large? Though played down by the Indian government for diplomatic reasons, 30,000 additional troops – with weaponry and artillery support – are being rushed to the country’s northeast region bordering China. Indian troops deployed on the disputed border with China are also being reinforced, following the second incursion in the Ladakh region in the last eight months.

More worrisome for India is the Chinese claim on Arunachal Pradesh and repeated incursions into border villages and reports of a Chinese military exercise involving 50,000 troops in Tibet. A highway built by China parallel to the border, with approach roads intruding into Arunachal Pradesh, is also a matter of concern as it can be used by the Chinese Army to move quickly – with artillery – to capture parts of the state. Not taking these developments lightly, the Indian Army is preparing for any eventuality, putting the troops deployed on the border on operational alert and increasing vigilance in Arunachal Pradesh. A full mountain division of about 15,000 troops, under the command of three brigadiers, is being stationed in Arunachal Pradesh in areas where border fortifications may be weak. This division would be attached to the 4 Corps unit, based out of Tezpur in Assam.

Growing influence: A second division of the same strength is being deployed in Manipur and attached to the 3 Corps, based out of Dimapur in Nagaland. This division would be placed on the Bangladesh-India-Myanmar axis to counter any threat from China’s growing influence in Myanmar. Since raising new divisions takes a lot of time, sources said the Indian Army is pulling officers and troops out of peace-time postings from across the country to form the two divisions quickly.

Defence experts in India are already warning the government that China might resort to a 1962 war-style gamble, though maybe not on the same scale, to divert attention from rising inflation in the country. Writing in Defence Today, a strategic journal, editor Bharat Verma claimed that China might make the move as early as October. According to government sources, such a perceived threat has been already discussed by the army’s top brass, following which the decision to fortify all positions on the Sino-India border was taken.

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