Army chief asks commanders to keep guard up in eastern, central sectors

Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane asked his top commanders to stay prepared for any eventuality while carrying out a security review of the eastern and central sectors during a two-day visit at a time when India and China are locked in a tense border dispute in Ladakh, people familiar with the developments said on Friday.

While the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh is the focus of the current border tensions, Indian forces are in a heightened state of alert all along the border with China stretching from Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim to Arunachal Pradesh.

Top commanders briefed Naravane on the prevailing security situation, deployments and the army’s operational preparedness in the eastern and central sectors at Tezpur on Thursday and Lucknow a day later, the people said. The Tezpur-based Gajraj Corps is responsible for a border frontage of 1,563 km with China.

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While the border row with China erupted in early May after a violent face-off in the Finger Area near Pangong Tso as well as Chinese aggression in the remote Galwan Valley, the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army were involved in a tense face-off at Naku La in Sikkim on May 9.

Four Indian and seven Chinese soldiers were injured during the confrontation that involved about 150 soldiers.

The visit was in continuation of attempts to ensure highest operational readiness of the Indian military in the eastern sector where China’s provocations have been on the rise, said former army vice chief Lieutenant General AS Lamba (retd).

“China’s objections last year to the army exercise ‘Him Vijay’ in Arunachal Pradesh and claims on Bhutan’s territory are extremely sensitive and significant issues. Also, the deployment of new weapon systems would have been overseen for their operational enhancement,” Lamba added.

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The army chief’s tour came at a time when military talks on disengagement have hit a roadblock because of serious differences between the two armies in the Finger Area and the PLA’s reluctance to vacate positions held by it in what New Delhi claims to be Indian territory.

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