Itanagar/New Delhi: A BJP MP from Arunachal Pradesh on Wednesday had claimed that the Chinese Army intruded into the state’s remote Anjaw district and constructed a temporary wooden bridge over a stream last month but the Indian Army said no such incident took place. Tapir Gao said the bridge was built over Kiomru Nullah in Chaglagam circle and some local youths noticed it on Tuesday.
The people in the border areas, however, say that this information is from the grassroots where villagers actually witness the practical happenings in the border areas. The soldiers visit the spots only during patrolling. “The rest of the time, nobody visits the area except villagers who go for hunting or in search of medicinal plants,” said a source.
When contacted, an Army spokesperson in New Delhi said no such incursion by the Chinese military took place, adding there is a differing “perception” of the alignment in many areas along the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) — the de facto border between the two countries. “The terrain is thickly vegetated and all movements are undertaken on foot along Nalas and streams. During monsoon whenever the Nalas are in spate, temporary bridges are constructed by the patrols for their movement,” the official said. “Being an area of differing claims, troops routinely from either side patrol the area. In addition, civilian hunters and herb collectors also frequent here during summer months,” he said.
The official reiterated that there is no permanent presence of either Chinese soldiers or civilians in the area and surveillance is maintained by Indian troops regularly. “Being an area of differing claims, troops routinely from either side patrol the area. In addition, civilian hunters and herb collectors also frequent there during summer months,” he said.
Earlier, Gao had said the area where the Chinese incursion took place was approximately 25 km northeast of Chaglagam and was very much inside the Indian territory. “As a representative of the state, I have requested the Centre for development of infrastructure along the Sino-Indo border in Arunachal Pradesh like the construction of a road between Hayuliang, the district headquarters of Anjaw, and Chaglagam and beyond,” he had told journalists. He said it was necessary to stop such incidents.
#Exclusive | Chinese Army built the bridge over a month ago. There are several incursion points in Arunachal Pradesh: @TapirGao, BJP MP from Arunachal Pradesh tells TIMES NOW. | #ChineseIncursionExposed pic.twitter.com/GQyRL9OOoU
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) September 4, 2019
Gao said he received this information from colleagues in the BJP while describing in details more than the Army spokesperson where exactly the incursion took place.
The condition of the road between Hayuliang and Chaglagam is very poor and virtually no road exists beyond that point, he said. In October last year, an Indian Army patrol had come across Chinese troops in the area, the MP claimed.
The Army spokesperson said India and China have well established diplomatic and military mechanisms to address all issues in relating to border areas. “The two sides agree that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in all areas of India-China border areas as a prerequisite to smooth development of overall bilateral relations,” he said.
“It is entirely possible,” said an expert in international relations, “that the Army knows about the Chinese incursion, but it does not wish to raise the heat with statements.”
Gao said, in the meantime, that the government he is a part of would take the issue up with China. “It is clear that Chinese troops came inside the Indian boundary and constructed the bridge. I posted the video to bring it to everyone’s notice. I have not taken it up with Centre or the state government,” he said.
The makeshift wooden bridge seen in the image above this report is located over a stream called Diomru Nullah, around 25 km from Chaglagam. This is one of the last administrative posts on the Indian side called ‘Fish Tail’ by the Army. This is roughly 75 km inside Indian territory from the border.
India and China share a nearly 4,000-km border, which is not clearly demarcated, leading to incursions by the two sides into each other’s territory. China claims Arunachal Pradesh is part of southern Tibet. So, whenever a delegation from India is slated to visit China, that country refuses to issue those from Arunachal Pradesh proper visas. From Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, China carries out incursions into the Indian territories off and on, and retreats when confronted. The history of China’s expansionist designs on India date back to their claim over Aksai Chin. The most talked-about of these incursions in the recent past was the Doklam standoff.
“This is part of their containment strategy: keeping India on tenterhooks,” the foreign policy expert said.