Friday, March 23, 2012

Army to strengthen base in Arunachal


Guwahati, March 22: The Centre has decided to increase the presence of army personnel in Arunachal Pradesh, a move which could raise the hackles of neighbouring China which frequently stakes claim to the frontier state.

The Centre’s move was indicated in the budget speech of Arunachal Pradesh governor J.J. Singh in the Assembly at Naharlagun, 20km from capital Itanagar, this morning.

The former army chief’s address conveyed India’s commitment to the development and protection of a state which has remained a thorn in bilateral relations between the two nations.

Besides China, the state also shares a border with Bhutan and Myanmar.

“Our army has plans for considerable additional deployment in our state, and setting up of headquarters of new formations and units has already been initiated at several locations. Additional deployment of border-guarding forces along the international border to check cross-border movement of insurgents is also likely,” the governor said.

The announcement comes close on the heels of Union defence minister A.K. Antony’s visit to the state on February 20 to participate in its 25th Statehood Day followed by the visit of Union minister of state for home Mullapally Ramachandran on March 1.

Both discussed the internal and external security situation of the state.

Antony had asserted that a secure, non-porous international border must continue to be the topmost priority area of the Centre, acknowledging the challenges of people living in border areas of the underdeveloped state.

Mullapally had revealed the sanctioning of a special financial package of Rs 138 crore for modernisation of police forces in the insurgency-torn Tirap and Changlang districts, which also found mention in Singh’s speech.

China had objected to the visit of Antony without alluding to him.

India should refrain from taking any action that could “complicate” the border issue, Chinese foreign ministry spokesmanHong Lei reportedly said, asking India to work with China to maintain peace and stability in border areas.

Antony countered by asserting that the development as most unfortunate and objectionable.

Besides increasing army presence, Singh said raising of the first battalion of Arunachal Scouts will have a substantial multiplier effect on the strike and defence capability of the regular army units.

The ongoing renovation and re-operationalisation of eight airfields will help to give a major boost to air connectivity in the state.

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