Rajnath Singh tells forces to ‘be vigilant’ along Chinese border

Home minister Rajnath Singh asked the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and some state governments to remain “very vigilant” against Chinese transgressions


Rajnath Singh’s message comes days after India refused to participate in China’s “One Belt, One Road” conference in Beijing. Photo: Manvender Vashist/PTI
Rajnath Singh’s message comes days after India refused to participate in China’s “One Belt, One Road” conference in Beijing. Photo: Manvender Vashist/PTI

Gangtok: Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday asked border guarding force Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and governments of Himalayan states to remain “very vigilant” against Chinese transgressions along the Sino-Indian border saying such incidents take place due to “perceptional differences”.

Addressing a first-ever meeting of chief ministers of five Himalayan states, Singh also asked governments of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh to undertake developmental activities along the 3,488km-long Sino-Indian border so that people living in these areas do not have to migrate.

“Due to perceptional differences, there have been transgression by the Chinese PLA in the past. Such incidents have come down now. Sometimes, armies of both the countries come face-to-face which we call face-off. Such incidents are resolved through the existing mechanism,” he said at the meeting.

The meeting comes days after India refused to participate in China’s “One Belt, One Road” conference in Beijing and a month after the diplomatic tussle over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

The chief ministers of Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh—Trivendra Singh Rawat, Pawan Kumar Chamling and Pema Khandu respectively—and representatives of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh attended the meeting.

“As we are aware Indo-China border is undemarcated, we have to be very vigilant while guarding the borders. ITBP has been guarding the Indo-China border since 2004. They are performing their duty with great courage and alacrity,” he said.

The home minister said inhospitable conditions near the border makes patrolling extremely difficult, and despite these odds, the security forces were doing a great job. He hoped that future action plan on border security will be chalked out after analysing key outcomes of independent patrolling along the boundary.

Singh said the problem of connectivity in border areas posed several challenges which needed to be overcome. The home minister said thinning of population and migration from the border areas is a cause of concern.

“We need to strengthen basic infrastructure in border areas so that people don’t migrate to other places looking for better opportunities,” he said.

Singh said the central government is focusing on consolidated development of model villages in border districts. Last year, funds were released for 41 such villages. “The states should send more number of proposals to the centre for development of model villages in the border areas,” he said.

The home minister said states should remove obstacles in border infrastructure development, and problems pertaining to land acquisition and clearances need to be resolved. He added that the state governments should send senior officers every six months to border areas to review and implement the development works in the villages.

“I hope many innovative and imaginative proposals will be discussed here in the meeting to strengthen border infrastructure development,” he said. The home minister said that in the first stage, the home ministry was building 27 roads near the border which will be completed by 2019-20. He also said that approval is being given to 48 other roads.

The objective of the chief ministers meeting is to strengthen the coordination between the union home ministry and the five states along the Sino-Indian border to improve the overall border security. The home ministry has said the states were also partners in maintenance of security along the border.

India shares a 3,488km-long border with China that runs along the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. The total length of the border is 1,597km in Jammu and Kashmir , 200km in Himachal Pradesh , 345 km in Uttarakhand , 220km in Sikkim and 1,126km in Arunachal Pradesh.

The border is not fully-demarcated and the process of clarifying and confirming the Line of Actual Control is in progress. The border areas, which are located at high altitudes, have inadequate development and infrastructure facilities.

The ITBP guards this border and has established 173 border out posts (BOPs). Out of these, 35 BOPs are in the western sector (Jammu and Kashmir), 71 BOPs in the middle sector (Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand) and 67 BOPs in the eastern sector (Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh). PTI

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