India Setting Up A New Military Garrison Near China Border In Arunachal Pradesh?

India’s Ministry of Defense has reportedly acquired land close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Arunachal Pradesh to build a military garrison. The move seems to be aimed at stopping Chinese incursions into the bordering state.

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The development assumes significance in the wake of reports of China establishing a village in the Upper Subansiri district of the northeastern state.

The Economic Times reports that about 14 acres of land located in the village of Yorni II in the West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh have been given to the Defense Ministry. According to the report, the development came after India’s Home Ministry suggested establishing a “military garrison and locating various army detachments” on the land.

The area is located 30km from the Line of Actual Control, the de facto India-China border.

Earlier in October 2020, the Defense Ministry had acquired 200 acres of Lungro Grazing Ground in Tawang district to develop military infrastructure. Lungro La was one of the flashpoints during the Sumdorong Chu incident in 1986. It was another stand-off between the Indian and Chinese militaries. Sumdorong Chu stand-off was the first military confrontation along the disputed McMahon Line after the 1962 war.

At that time, Indian authorities had feared building infrastructure in the border areas would lead to more Chinese incursions. However, things have now changed as the government is ramping up infrastructure in the previously-inaccessible areas.

The latest acquisition of land has come in the wake of reports that China has built 101 houses in the Upper Subansiri district along the banks of Tsari Chu River in Arunachal Pradesh.

Satellite images revealed that the area is in the Indian territory. Earlier there was only one Chinese military post in the area. China doesn’t recognize Arunachal Pradesh and considers it to be South Tibet. Beijing claimed it had constructed the village under its poverty alleviation program.

India’s External Affairs Ministry had said that it was aware of the development and “China has undertaken such infrastructure construction activity in the past several years”.

New Delhi’s decision to build military infrastructure in the border village in Arunachal Pradesh is likely to infuriate China because it has often raised objection to India’s attempts to build roads and bridges along the LAC.

The two countries have been locked in a border stand-off in Eastern Ladakh since May 2020. Recently, a Chinese incursion attempt was foiled by the Indian Army in Naku La in Sikkim, leading to a minor skirmish.

West Siang, Arunachal Pradesh. (Photo for representational purpose only)

Due to the loosely demarcated border, China has been asking India to adopt a cautious and restrained attitude on infrastructure development in border areas. Until 2020, India had undertaken the construction of 61 roads ranging from Arunachal Pradesh to Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir.

A 2020 Parliamentary report had claimed that India’s Border Road Organization had completed 75 percent of the work on 3,323 kilometers of approved roads. As many as 17 highways along the eastern border areas are being converted to double lanes, which can also be used as airstrips for fighter jets in war-like situations.

These highways will have weapons storage dumps, landing lights, fuel, and firefighting equipment.

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