Chinese incursions into Indian territory rose sharply in 2008
Chinese incursions into Indian territory peaked in 2008, with 270 “violations” being recorded in the western, middle and eastern
sectors. In 2009, they appear to have let up a little on the aggression front, with a little over 60 violations occurring thus far. Chinese violations made headlines last year, signalling a belligerence that made India jittery.
With the first batch of advanced Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets getting ready to be deployed in Tezpur and Chabua, Assam, India is slowly responding to the uncertainties of Chinese intentions, by enhancing its state of preparedness in the area. According to the former air force chief, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, India will deploy a full squadron of these fighter jets in the eastern sector.
Recent figures point to a sharp spike in border violations and aggressive patrolling by Chinese all along the undemarcated border with India since 2007. Aggressive patrolling by Chinese forces, particularly in the western sector, have resulted in 2,285 instances in 2008, as compared to 778 instances in 2007. Indian authorities have recorded 413 instances in 2009 so far.
The brunt of aggressive patrolling by the Chinese has been felt in Demchok, Koyul and Chushul areas in Ladakh. The western sector, i.e. Ladakh, has borne the maximum number of violations, though it’s been the Chinese activity in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim areas that have attracted greater attention. India has, in response, set up forward landing bases in Daulat Beg Oldi and Chushul in Ladakh.
Earlier this year, questioned on the repeated incursions, foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon had told journalists at a function in New Delhi that he did not think these were intended to change the status quo between India and China. “I do not see the kind of changes in the pattern that would suggest that either side is determined to change the status quo or something fundamental has changed for the worse.”
But it is China’s apparently declared interest in southern Tibet and Tawang in the eastern sector that is of greater concern to India, particularly since they continue to press their claim over all of Arunachl Pradesh. In 2008, just the area in Kongra La Pass (what’s popularly known as Finger Point) in north Sikkim recorded six violations.
In Arunachal Pradesh, the Asaphila area and Dichu/Madan Bridge were worst hit, recording violations even this year. But officials describe the area as by and large “stable”. Questioned about repeated incursions by China, officials say it’s a “regular” occurrence and generally downplay it. But security officials say Chinese troops became adventurous even during the recent election season in India, indulging in “aggressive patrolling” in sections of Arunachal Pradesh.
It is in response to these that India has now taken significant steps to beef up security here. Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, General JJ Singh, said on Saturday that two more army divisions will be deployed along the Sino-Indian border in Arunachal Pradesh within a few years.
“It is true that within a few years, two army divisions comprising 25,000 to 30,000 personnel each will be deployed along the Arunachal border as part of planned augmentation of our capabilities to defend the country,” the former army chief was quoted as saying.
“Increase of force strength is to meet future national security challenges,” he added. “Enhancement of quality of weapons, fighting platforms, intelligence gathering along with increased deployment of personnel and Sukhoi combat jets in nearby Tezpur base in Assam besides construction of border roads and other infrastructure are part of the plan to develop capabilities in a phased manner within the next few years to effectively meet challenges in the eastern theatre,” the governor said.