Army Chief; Says terror infrastructure across LoC intact, large number of militants trying to infiltrate
Ajay Banerjee, Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 5. Echoing words that can spark a fresh round of discussion on China’s suspicious moves in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, especially in the strategically important Gilgit-Baltistan area, Army Chief General V K Singh today said that around 4,000 Chinese, including troops of the People’s Liberation Army of China, were in PoK.
“There are certain construction working teams (in PoK). Around 3,000 to 4,000 of these people are present, including certain people for security purposes. There are certain engineers troops. Now, our own engineers are combat engineers. So, in some way they are part of the PLA,” he told reporters here.
The Army Chief was responding to a query on the presence of Chinese Army troops in the PoK on the sidelines of the 16th Field Marshal KM Cariappa Memorial Lecture delivered by National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.
What General V K Singh said today is in line with the thinking of India’s leading strategic affairs think-tank, the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA). An IDSA study in May this year had warned that if the current pace of Chinese penetration is sustained, then the Dragon may completely take over Gilgit-Baltistan by the year 2020.
New Delhi has already conveyed its concerns to China over the presence of its troops in PoK and its activities in that region. Last year, there were reports of presence of about 11,000 Chinese troops in Jammu and Kashmir’s Gilgit- Baltistan region held by Pakistan but Beijing said there was no wrong-doing.
Asked about the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, General Singh said the terrorist infrastructure across the LoC was intact and a large number of militants are trying to infiltrate.
“The terror infrastructure (across the LoC) is intact. A concentration of large number of terrorists on the other side exists and they are trying to infiltrate. We are making sure that their efforts fail,” the Army Chief said. General Singh said efforts were being made to step up infiltration from across the LoC but the Army was alert and ready to face any threat.
Western security agencies have maintained that China had a huge presence in the PoK and was ‘well-entrenched’ in the Gilgit-Baltistan region that abuts the Drass-Kargil-Batalik-Siachen belt in India
China’s official line is that the Karokaram Highway connecting Pakistan with Xinjiang was damaged in January this year and now the road was being re-aligned with the help of Chinese engineers
IAF Chief NAK Browne has already made it clear that increasing presence of China in PoK warrants India’s “attention”