India strengthens security at Himalayan border after clashes with China | Conflict News


New Delhi is deploying Israeli-made cruise missiles, howitzers, helicopters and drones along dangerous mountain ranges.

On the winding road to India’s Himalayan border, a picture postcard view of gushing streams and tranquil lakes, occasionally punctuated by the sight of artillery barrels and military bunkers.

A year after deadly high-altitude clashes with Chinese soldiers, India is strengthening its border defenses along a dangerous mountain range that has long been a flashpoint between the two countries.

Arunachal Pradesh straddles the other side of the Himalayas from Tibet and shares a common Buddhist cultural heritage with its northern neighbor.

The Dalai Lama fled the state in 1959 after an unsuccessful uprising against Chinese rule in his homeland and has lived in India ever since.

Beijing also claims ownership of Arunachal Pradesh – which it calls Southern Tibet – and briefly occupied most of the territory, three years after the Buddhist leader fled, in a short but bloody war.

Tensions have erupted again since mid-2020, when troops from the two nations engaged in a melee further west along their shared border in Ladakh, killing at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers.

Indian soldiers are pictured on a Bofors cannon positioned at Penga Teng Tso in front of Tawang, near the Real Line of Control (LAC), neighboring China, in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh [Money Sharma/AFP]

Each side regularly sends patrols to areas claimed or controlled by the other, and India has also accused China of establishing permanent settlements near the border.

“We have seen some infrastructure development on the Chinese side,” Lt. Gen. Manoj Pande told reporters during a rare press tour of the region last month.

” This lead to [a higher] number of troops that are now located or placed there.

New Delhi responded by strengthening its defenses in Arunachal Pradesh, deploying cruise missiles, howitzers, American-made Chinook transport helicopters and drones built in Israel.

Fatal geography

Officers in the region said last year’s clash highlighted the urgent need to strengthen the military presence at the border, after unsuccessful talks with Beijing to facilitate border strengthening on both sides.

Temperatures around the remote strategic hamlet of Tawang – one of the closest towns to Tibet and a potential choke point for all advancing forces – often dip below zero, and the thin air in the mountain lacks water. ‘oxygen.

An Indian Army soldier stands next to a radar system that controls the enhanced L70 antiaircraft gun in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh [Money Sharma/AFP]

Nearby military outposts can be cut off from the outside world for weeks on end in the winter.

“The geography of the region is against humans,” an Indian army brigadier told AFP news agency. “It can be fatal if you are not fit, trained or acclimatized.”

Army engineers are building a massive road tunnel 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) above sea level, which is slated to open next year, to connect the area with arteries further south and extend reach soldiers.

“These tunnels… will mean all-weather connectivity for residents and security forces deployed in Tawang,” said Colonel Parikshit Mehra, project director.

A similar project is in progress in Ladakh beneath the rocky terrain of the Zojila Mountain Pass – otherwise impractical during the winter months – which would help troops mobilize quickly across the border from the huge Indian garrison in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Indian Army soldiers stand next to an M777 ultralight howitzer positioned at Penga Teng Tso in front of Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh [Money Sharma/AFP]

“Pressure tactics”

A statue of the Buddha overlooks the sloping houses on the rugged plateau on which Tawang was built, reflecting the region’s largely Buddhist population.

Residents of the city have applauded the new focus on the region from New Delhi and are worried about future Chinese incursions, aware of Beijing’s efforts to suppress Buddhism across the border.

The officially atheist Chinese government has made it clear that it may seek to appoint a successor to the 86-year-old Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists and a revered figure in Tawang.

“We share our culture with Tibet, but China today changes Buddhism according to its whims,” said Dondup Gyaltsen, who runs a shoe store in Tawang’s main market.

Monpa Golang, who runs a pharmacy further down the street, said India should firmly oppose “Chinese pressure tactics”.

“Our government should make it clear that no Buddhist will accept anyone that China imposes after the Dalai Lama,” added the 75-year-old. “He might look human, but he’s our god.


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