The Indian Army has categorically rejected Chinese accusations of transgression’ in Asaphila area along the disputed border in Arunachal Pradesh, news agency PTI reported quoting official sources. The area is considered to be of vital strategic importance to both the Asian giants
Indian authorities further informed that Chinese officials flagged the issue in a ‘Border Personnel Meeting’ (BPM) that was tabled on March 15 at Daimai post on the Chinese side in the Kibithu area. Indian Army, in its rejection of the Chinese claims, asserted that Asaphila area located in the upper Subansiri region of Arunachal Pradesh belongs to India and that its troops have been regularly manoeuvring patrols at locations mentioned by the Chinese authorities.
The Chinese officials also accused the Indian side of damaging its road building equipment when a road laying party left its equipment in Tuting in December last year following a protest by India. The Indian Army rejected those allegations as well, the PTI report said.
The Chinese road building crew had crossed into Indian territory, about one kilometre inside the Line of Actual Control in the Tuting area, in the last week of December. The road construction team left the area after Indian troops asked the crew to stop the activity. It is reported that the crew brought in two excavators which were later returned.
What coerced the Indian officials to answer with a full-fledged denial of the accusation was the language used by the Chinese to register its protest as the Chinese authorities called the Indian Army’s patrols in the area a ‘transgression’
“China’s protest to our patrolling in Asaphila is surprising,” PTI said quoting a source and added there were several instances of Chinese intrusions in the area which had been seriously taken up by the Indian side in the past.
BPM mechanism is regularly followed by both the sides to register their protests as there are often differing perceptions about the line of actual control (LAC) between the two countries who have historically engaged in both military and diplomatic conflicts owing to the border disputes along the McMahon Line. There are a total of five BPM points along the LAC at Bum La and Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh, Daulat Beg Oldi and Chushul in Ladakh, and Nathu La in Sikkim.
The Chinese delegation belonging to its military establishment- People’s Liberation Army specifically flagged the issue of extensive Indian Army patrols in Asaphila near Fishtail 1 on December 21, 22 and 23 last year, warning that these ‘violations’ might escalate geopolitical tensions between the two nations in the disputed area.
Rejecting the Chinese protest, the Indian Army clarified that its troops were aware of the alignment of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the Army shall continue to carry out patrols up to the LAC, the de facto border between the two countries.
In the aftermath of Doklam standoff, the Indian Army has increased combat drills to deal with all possible scenarios along the LAC, official sources informed PTI. “We are fully prepared to deal with any situation,” said a senior Army official.
From June 16 to August 28, the troops belonging to Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army found themselves engaged in a showdown after the Indian side stopped the building of a road by the Chinese Army in the disputed area of Doklam tri-junction. PTI Sources added that India has deployed more troops and intensified patrolling in the mountainous terrains along the borders with China following the Doklam face-off.
India is also strengthening its surveillance mechanism to take cognizance of the Chinese activity along the borders in the strategically vital Tibetan region and has even been regularly deploying choppers to carry out reconnaissance missions. In January, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat commented that the time had come for the country to shift its focus from its borders with Pakistan to the frontier with China, reflecting the graveness of the situation.