On Thursday, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat debunked all rumours that China is developing communities on Indian soil, saying that there have been no infractions of the Indian “perception” of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) so far. In response to accusations that Chinese troops had crossed into the Indian side of the LAC to build a new hamlet, CDS Rawat replied that the reports were “not factual” and that the villages in question did exist, but they were well within the Chinese side of the LAC.
The Defense Secretary’s words are particularly significant because they follow a recent assessment from the US Department of Defense, which claimed that China had established a huge settlement inside the “disputed region” between Tibet Autonomous Region and Arunachal Pradesh in the LAC’s eastern sector.
India’s minister of external affairs has previously stated that “it does not recognise China’s “illegal occupation of its land” or any unreasonable Chinese claims in response to the US report.
CDS Rawat, speaking at a press conference on Thursday, flatly denied the accusations, saying, “As far as we are concerned, no such village construction has occurred on our side of the LAC.”
“The current controversy, that the Chinese have crossed into our country and constructed a new community,” he added, “is not accurate.”
The Defense Secretary, on the other hand, offered some light on why the Chinese are establishing villages along the LAC.
“However, what I want to bring out is that Chinese are establishing villages all along the LAC, maybe for billeting and locating their citizens or troops in the future,” the CDS stated, “especially after the recent face-offs that we have had.”
Both the Indian and Chinese militaries have deployed troops on their respective sides of the LAC, according to Rawat. “We’ve observed some old derelict huts that existed in that area wherever the Chinese have now established their posts,” he said. “As a result, some of the huts have been destroyed, and newer infrastructure and modern shelters are being constructed.”
“Yes, it’s possible that a number of them, the settlements, have grown in size. What I’m guessing is that these are to house Chinese soldiers and, as a result, they may be intending to assist the entry of their families every now and then… Our civilians are travelling there, and our families are visiting forward locations, so they’re keeping an eye on everything,” he stated.
“He (a Chinese soldier) is thousands of kilometres away from the mainland,” Rawat remarked, referring to the isolation of Chinese soldiers. And he notices that our people are in a lot better mood. They are able to return home much more quickly.”
He claims that Indian soldiers get leave to return home from their postings on the LAC at least twice a year, if not three times a year, whereas Chinese soldiers do not.
“They are constructing infrastructure, such as so-called villages, well within their side of the LAC.” “They haven’t messed with our perception of the LAC in any way,” he said.
According to him, various people have different ideas of the LAC, but the Indian armed forces know where it is because they have been taught that here is your LAC alignment and this is the land you must defend.
“The Chinese have a perception, and we are aware of it in some areas and unaware of it in others. “Because they’ve never really described where the LAC is in their minds,” he explained.
“Certainly not, I wouldn’t call it muscle-flexing,” he said when asked if he thinks such community development is muscle-flexing on their behalf. They are attempting to reach out to their border areas as part of the development of these settlements, and this is something we should be doing as well.”
He said that India was similarly concerned about the development of its border areas, and that the government had provided cash for BADP (Border Area Development Programme) initiatives.
“In fact, because a big number of communities along the LAC are being evacuated, we are encouraging people to travel there and stay in those areas,” he stated. “Can you tell me why they’re being vacated?” Because the inner cities have more job prospects, education, health infrastructure, and other amenities.”
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