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Is China deviating India’s attention from Arunachal amid the standoff in Ladakh?

File Image (Agencies)

Amid the India-China standoff in the Ladakh sector alongside the Line of Actual Control (LAC), tensions in Arunachal Pradesh bordering the red dragon nation have garnered due attention.

China on Monday claimed that Arunachal Pradesh is a part of south Tibet region, which again brought the debate of the sovereignty of Tibet and Arunachal in hot boiling oil.

“China’s position on the eastern section of the China and India boundary and China’s southern Tibet is consistent and clear. We have never recognised the so-called Arunachal Pradesh illegally established on the Chinese territory,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian said.

Meanwhile, there is a heavy deployment of the Indian Army and paramilitary forces in Ladakh and adjoining areas, bordering the Aksai Chin region of China. The Army has made it clear that they have mobilised their forces towards the border, following the standoff which broke in June.

However, reports have emerged from the northeast that New Delhi is not taking any chance on the Sino-India border in Arunachal Pradesh.

Last month, the army has mobilised additional forces towards the strategic locations in Tawang and other districts in Arunachal. An official with Indian Army stationed at Tezpur said that the mobilisation is routine and it is a part of the regular change in the role of the battalions deployed.

“It is a routine exercise. Before the winter, we always deploy extra troops as the region becomes inaccessible due to snow and other climatic conditions. To ensure that the frontiers are protected, we don’t take chances in winter,” said the official, who didn’t wish to be named.

Denying the deployment linked to the standoff in eastern Ladakh, the official added, “Our forward posts become inaccessible in winter due to heavy snow. For that, we keep ourselves ready.”

SSB, ITBP on high alert

In an internal communique of the Sashashtra Seema Bal, the border-guarding force has ordered their seven companies belonging to Frontier Headquarters, Tezpur to be ready for “hot war situation” in the Sino-India border. In the leaked message, which Headline 8 has accessed, a DIG-rank officer has asked the force to be prepare amid the growing tension.

Moreover, a highly placed source at one of the battalions mentioned in the communique said, “We received the information on 1st September and we are currently in stand-by. It was reported to us earlier that the situation is under control but following the Sunday incident [missing youths], the mobilisation of our company to Tawang area is likely to be happening any day this week.”

Media reports have hinted that the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), which guards the India China border have mobilised their three battalions stationed at Assam towards Arunachal amid the growing tension.

However, denying on the media reports, a top official posted at Sector Headquarters, Tezpur said, “There is no such deployment made by ITBP yet. We have not received any information in this regard.”

But the recent development on the five missing Arunachal youths has again brought the tension to a scale above. Meanwhile, China has claimed that they have the whereabouts of the missing men, Defence PRO at Tezpur on Tuesday said that the process to bring them back is under talks.

SSB—which guards the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan border and the ITBP are in dilemma on the mobilisation of their troops towards the forward posts in the border, the recent development after the comment of Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson has again raised the tension in the force headquarters of both these Central Armed Police Force (CAPF).

While the Army has denied their mobilisation in Arunachal linked to the standoff in Ladakh and claimed it as a routine exercise, the internal meetings at New Delhi have hinted to something else.

Not taking any chance, villagers evacuated

A source at the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau has informed Headline 8 that three villages in Tawang near the Mc-Mohan line have been vacated. The source added that the villagers were evacuated on Monday after reports of the missing youths from the Upper Subansiri district was reported.

“China might take it as a chance to deviate India’s attention from Arunachal sector, while the Ladakh standoff is growing. But our intelligence agencies and the force are vigils. We are not going to take any chance this time,” she said.

The source additionally informed us that in July and early August, Northeast witnessed a surge in Covid-19 positive cases which reportedly was carried by the paramilitary forces from the rest of India.

“The reason behind the surge in positive cases was due to mobilisation of additional forces from the rest of India. The reason behind the mobilisation of these additional force is linked to the growing tension in the Sino-India border. We had strong intel reports and thus, we didn’t take any chance on this regard,” she added.

It is evident that the Indian Army has excused it as a routine exercise in the additional deployment, the heads of the two CAPFs have been in meetings with the Ministries of Defence and Home Affairs, officials of the IB and the Cabinet Secretariat in this regard.

While, in the tensed area of Eastern Ladakh, a fresh buildup of Chinese troops has started on the ridgeline of Finger area on the northern bank of the Pangong Lake in Ladakh soon after the skirmish on the southern bank on Monday night.

Sources have said there has been an enhancement in deployment and increased activity of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that are visible since Tuesday evening.

While in the Arunachal Pradesh borders, there are no reports of any fresh deployment by the Chinese Army but the Indian side is not taking any chance in their vigil.

 

UPDATE: In contrast to our reliable Intel source, Defence PRO Tezpur has denied the claim of villagers being vacated.

What do you think?

Written by Nilutpal Timsina

Nilutpal Timsina is working as a Journalist for Headline8. He is a journalism graduate from Bangalore University. His areas of interest include civic issue, politics, and public policy spheres and other functionality of the government. Besides writing news, Nilutpal also coordinates with the video production team with story researches. He can be reached at: niluttimsina@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @nilutpaltimsina

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