Transgressions or the crossing over by Chinese soldiers at the the India-China frontier have reduced by more than 50 per cent since 2014. This is happening while there is a build up of defence infrastructure on both sides of the frontier. An important factor for India in the defence of this frontier is the improvement of road connectivity in the forward areas, giving Indian troops the capabilities to quickly mobilise in response to a contingent.
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) Director General Krishna Chaudhary today confirmed these developments. The ITBP guards the India-China frontier also known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with the Indian Army. “The transgressions (at the India-China frontier) are going down. The figures of transgressions for 2015 are lower than those of 2014. The comparative figures of this year is lower than the same period last year,” he said.
Sources said in 2014 there were about 500 transgressions by Chinese troops. In 2015 there were 350. This year to date there have only been about 200 transgressions.
“This is the first time that we are noticing a downward trend in the transgressions. In the past, it would increase every year,” explained sources.
Transgression is when one party goes to the other side of the border, assuming that it is their own territory. This happens due to the difference in the perception of the LAC.
India-China joint military exercises
Furthermore, the ITBP has requested the Centre to grant it permission to conduct military exercises with the Chinese troops.
“We have conveyed our willingness (in holding joint exercises with the Chinese). And when the situation arises, we are ready. But we are yet to receive orders from the top,” said a top ITBP officer.
He said the ITBP wants to be involved in disaster management exercises with the Chinese troops.
On October 19 this year, the Indian and Chinese armies held the Second Joint Exercise, “Sino India Cooperation 2016”, in Eastern Ladakh. The exercise, which was a sequel to the the first one held in February this year, is part of the ongoing initiative to enhance interaction and cooperation between India and China.
The second joint exercise happened following a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Goa during the BRICS summit.
India-China border roads
Chowdhary meanwhile admitted that India was slow at building its infrastructure along the frontier. “On their side, the infrastructure has really grown. But we are catching up. Roads are being made. Our weaponry has also improved,” he said.
Out of the 27 ITBP priority roads, eight are complete and six are in the advance stage of construction. “The rest are located in very tough and difficult terrains. But progress is being made,” he said.
The roads are primarily located in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.
The DG explained that along the India-China frontier there are two types of terrain. One is the “Ladakh terrain”, which after reaching a particular altitude much of it is flat. The other kind are the hills through which one has to cut through and then the construction of the road begins.
“When working in high altitude, the efficiency of the machinery and the manpower goes down. Cutting through a hillside is not easy. But the BRO (Border Roads Organisation), NPCC (National Projects Construction Corporation) and CPWD (Central Public Works Department) are doing a good role. Work was sluggish earlier, but now it is at high speed,” he said.
This development in road connectivity is significant for the ITBP and army, as until mid this year, none of the 27 roads were complete.
These are strategic roads leading to the 3225 kilometre long India-China frontier, to be used as supply lines, for evacuation and during war by both the forces. The project was approved by the Defence Ministry and their construction began after the mid-2000s.
The ITBP has 95 Border Outposts (BOPs) along the India-China frontier, which are connected by roads. A BOP is a defence structure and provides adequate surveillance capabilities on Chinese troops and infrastructures. About 44 BOPS are air maintained.
Recently the ITBP had sent about 40 new SUVs to some of the 95 motorable BOPs. “We are planning to ensure all these BOPs have SUVs,” said an official.