NEWS BRIDGES LADAKH CHINA
NEW DELHI: India’s construction and inauguration of 44 strategically important bridges in the Ladakh region and elsewhere along India’s border regions have raised the hackles of China; and understandably so. These bridges were inaugurated on Monday with a big bang by Union Defence minister Rajnath Singh.
The red nation on Tuesday registered its strong objections to these constructions and also put on record its opposition to the re-designation of Ladakh as a Union Territory – which the Modi govt did in August last year.
The re-designation had been done as part of the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir state into three Union Territories. Till then, Ladakh was part of the now-defunct state. Notably, National Conference leader Farooq Abdulla was quoted as saying on Monday that the people of Jammu and Kashmir will, with Chinese help, re-possess the special status which the Modi government took away from it in August last. He later withdrew the statement.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday inaugurated the 44 bridges via video mode from here, and said China was creating troubles in Ladakh as part of an understanding between it and Pakistan. China, apparently caught unawares about this infra push by the Modi government, said it did not also recognize the UT status for Ladakh.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said India was trying to complicate the already tense situation between the two countries. The Chinese objection came even as it held another, the seventh, round of military level talks to defuse the situation in the mountainous, snow=clad region. He said India was doing a lot of infrastructure works in Ladakh and Arunachal, which China said it too has a claim on. Zaho said the Indian infra-build was aimed at surveillance on China.
The 4o new bridges were inaugurated in Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir regions. These will help speed up troop movements in the event of a confrontation with China or Pakistan in future.
Notably, the Modi government, ever since it came to power first in 2014, has been quietly according top priority to strengthening the borders with Pakistan, China and also Bangladesh. For the first time, the border with Bangladesh was fenced or manually patrolled, ending the incursions into Assam and West Bengal by lakhs of Bangladeshis in the past few decades.
The government has invested heavily in strengthening road and tele communications in Arunachal Pradesh in the east and fortifying the borders there, so that China is not able to play around. So with the Ladakh region. The induction of General VK Singh as minister of state for roads and highways, in Modi’s second term starting in 2o19, is seen intended to push the border infra projects,
In a bloody confrontation between Chinese PLA and Indian soldiers in Galwan Valley in Ladakh in June last, 20 Indian soldiers had been killed by PLA in a physical fight started by PLA men. Indian troops later mobilized strength, returned to the spot and reportedly killed over 40 Chinese PLA men, though China has not given out the figure of its dead in action.
As part of border infra development in the northern region, India a week ago inaugurated the world’s longest tunnel, at an altitude of 10,000 feet, styled Atal Tunnel, in Himachal Pradesh, which will also help faster troop movement in the region. IHN-NN
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