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Army sends out long range patrol to figure out Chinese plans

August 22, 2013 09:53 IST

The fact that the PLA patrol came nearly 20 km deep into what India perceives as its own territory and stayed put -- for four days -- has made the Eastern Command a little more cautious about Chinese intentions, reports RS Chauhan

A week after the faceoff with a Chinese army patrol near Chaglagam in eastern Arunachal Pradesh, the Indian Army’s leadership has sent out a long range patrol to the arduous region to once again get a first-hand feel of the area and determine what the Chinese are up to, top army sources said.

While the general area of "fishtail”, so called because of the way the Line of Actual Control looks on the map, has been one of the more hotly disputed points on the border, the fact that the PLA patrol came nearly 20 km deep into what India perceives as its own territory and stayed put -- for four days -- has made the Eastern Command a little more cautious about Chinese intentions.

The deep intrusion is all the more alarming since in the eastern sector (Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim), both India and China have more or less stuck to the “watershed" principle whereby the "line of perception" of each side is aligned to the ridge lines that exist in these mountainous terrains. In Ladakh, on the other hand, the vast expanse of plateau makes it difficult to delineate the LAC, leave alone the boundary whenever it is settled.

Often both sides patrol up to their own lines of perceptions, an argument that was also put forward in explaining last week's intrusion as deep as 20 km in Anjaw district by the Chinese patrol.

Guarding the LAC ahead of Chaglagam area is the responsibility of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, which reported the Chinese transgression to the army. The ITBP position is ahead of the army positions.

The army, however, said the incident was not comparable with the stand-off at Depsang in eastern Ladakh in April when Chinese troops pitched tents. That faceoff lasted 21 days before Indian and Chinese soldiers withdrew from their positions following a series of flag meetings.

The explanation of the Chinese pitching tents in Chaglagam area is that soldiers on long-range patrols might carry tents and equipment to shelter themselves from the weather in the heights. In the fishtail area, at heights above 11,000 ft, the patrols can last up to 12 days.

India has sought to plug the earlier gaps in its deployment in both western and eastern Arunachal Pradesh by placing the recently raised mountain divisions and reordering its earlier ORBAT (order of battle). So now, the Dimapur-based 3 Corps is in charge of eastern Arunachal Pradesh, deploying 56 and 2nd Mountain Divisions in the area against the earlier deployment of just the 2nd Mountain Division. In western Arunachal Pradesh, the Tezpur-based 4 Corps has under it the old 5 Division based at Tenga and the newly raised 71 Division.

RS Chauhan in New Delhi