A BJP MP from Arunachal Pradesh on Wednesday said that Chinese soldiers had built a wooden bridge nearly 75 km inside the Indian territory, a claim the Army denied, with Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand emphasising that “there has been no such incursion” in the border state.
Tapir Gao, Lok Sabha MP from Arunachal East and state BJP president, claimed that the bridge was built on a stream approximately 25 km from Chaglagam, the administrative circle in Anjaw district, from where the McMohan Line, India’s legal border with China, is about 100 km. He said a local villager who went to the woods to fish and hunt sighted the bridge and sent him a video. “As a representative of that area, I could not hide it,” Gao said.
He also asserted that this alleged incursion is a “regular phenomenon”, and that PLA troops had entered in other areas, too.
Army spokesperson Col Anand said the area being referred to is called the “Fish Tail”, and there is a “differing perception of the alignment of the Line of Control, as in many other areas”.
He also said that since it is an area of “differing claims, troops routinely from either side patrol the area” and “civilian hunters and herb collectors also frequent there during summer months”. He emphasised, “There is no permanent presence of either Chinese soldiers or civilians in the area, and surveillance is maintained by our troops.”
Col Anand said the terrain is thickly vegetated and all movements are undertaken on foot along nalas (rivulets) and streams, and during the monsoon, “whenever the nalas are in spate, temporary bridges are constructed by patrols for their movement”.
Gao told The Indian Express: “In 2018, when Indian patrolling party went there, they could see that PLA (China’s People’s Liberation Army) was there and they had constructed a tent house. During that interaction, they resolved (the issue) amicably, but it was very much inside the Indian territory. This time too, in the same area, on the river stream they have constructed a wooden bridge.”
Asked how he can ascertain that PLA soldiers had constructed the bridge, Gao said there are no nearby villages and local villagers know who has built bridges.
A source said the Army has not been able to verify even “Doimru nala” where the BJP MP claims the bridge was constructed.
Explaining the “well-established diplomatic and military mechanisms to address all issues in our border areas” between India and China, Col Anand said said, “The two sides agree that maintenance of peace and tranquility in all areas of India-China border areas is a prerequisite to smooth development of overall bilateral relations.”
The area mentioned by Gao in Anjaw district lies close to the tri-junction of India, China and Myanmar, and has seen face-offs between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the past.
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