Eastern borders reasonably calm and firmly under control: Lieutenant General Kalita

Eastern borders reasonably calm and firmly under control: Lieutenant General Kalita

India and China on September 12 completed disengagement from PP-15 in the Gogra-Hot Springs area in eastern Ladakh

India and China on September 12 completed disengagement from PP-15 in the Gogra-Hot Springs area in eastern Ladakh

The situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Eastern Theatre has been stable and “no major changes or palpable shift of stance” has been noted since the stand-off in eastern Ladakh, Eastern Army Commander Lieutenant General R. P. Kalita said. There have been reports of continued infrastructure development by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and it was being monitored constantly, he stated.

His comments came a day after India and China announced disengagement from Patrolling Point 15 in the Gogra-Hot Springs area of eastern Ladakh. The process of disengagement was completed on September 12, while the other friction points of Depsang and Demchok remain to be resolved.

“On our own side, there is a focused approach to improve the infrastructure by adopting a ‘whole of government’ approach. There have been improvements in forward connectivity, construction of bridge on the Brahmaputra river, laying of new railway lines, improvement of air connectivity to all States in the northeast,” he said in an informal interaction at Kibuthu on September 10 on the sidelines of an event to rename the military camp after the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat.

Also read: Explained | The disengagement plan between India and China along the LAC

“Presently the situation along the borders [Eastern Sector] is reasonably calm and firmly under control,” Lt. Gen. Kalita said

The dynamics of the Eastern Command and Northern Command are totally different, he said, adding, “The terrain, size of area of operations, operational dynamics, and objective of operations, are all varied in a peculiar way.”

Stating that, till now, the Indian Armed Forces had maintained cordial relations with the PLA at the functional level of ground Commander and there have been hardly any friction areas in the recent past, he said India and China also have well-instituted mechanisms in place, such as formal interactions and Border Personnel Meetings to resolve differences of opinions.

In Arunachal Pradesh, both in the Tawang sector and in the ‘Rest of Arunachal Pradesh’ (RALP), the Army has significantly upgraded its defences and deployed offensive fire power to offset the major modernisation drive by China.

On infrastructure development in the Eastern Sector, the Commander said it was progressing at an “expeditious pace”. “Along with organisations like the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation, and the Border Roads Organisation, the Army’s forward formations are also making major strides in achieving last mile connectivity and access to remote areas near the LAC,” he said, elaborating, “Additionally, major push to improve aviation infra [infrastructure] in the area has resulted in the construction of numerous helipads in inaccessible valleys, thereby greatly enhancing connectivity.”

On technology induction and capability enhancement, Lt. Gen. Kalita said the infusion of the latest technology coupled with physical surveillance is the means by which the Indian Army is enhancing its surveillance capability and capacity. “We have a well-defined surveillance plan and there has been substantial improvement in our surveillance capability with the induction of new platforms and improvement of connectivity,” he said.

Explaining this, he said that physical surveillance is augmented by the induction and availability of various surveillance platforms, like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, helicopters, aircraft, satellites, and the means for electronic surveillance. Now, with better infrastructure close to the LAC, he said the Indian Army was in a better position to observe “our areas of interest”. “It’s an ongoing process, and with improvement in connectivity and infrastructure, it will further enhance our reach and depth of surveillance,” he said.

Also read: India-China ties can’t be a one-way street: Jaishankar

Asserting that the Army is fully prepared to deal with any eventuality in the Eastern Theatre, Lt. Gen. Kalita said the border issue with China was being dealt with at all levels to ensure there was no friction. “We have a robust mechanism in place, which is in accordance with existing bilateral agreements and various protocols to defuse any emerging situation/ tension at the tactical level. We are focusing on operational capability development in all spheres. Mainly, the area of focus has been infrastructure development, increased connectivity, and modernisation of the Armed Forces,” he stated.

Lt. Gen. Kalita termed the lifting of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from several areas of Manipur, Nagaland and Assam as a “momentous achievement” made possible by reduction in violence, and said that with improvement in the situation in the northeast, “the Army has got de-inducted and are geared to look at the primary role”.

Since the May 2020 standoff with China in eastern Ladakh, which is still underway, the Army has carried a major reorientation towards the LAC, under which several formations facing the western front were re-tasked to the LAC, in the backdrop of heightened Chinese activity across the LAC. Of the 3,488 km-long LAC, 1,346 km falls in the Eastern Sector.