Beijing fears New Delhi is ramping up its military infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to catch up with China, defence minister AK Antony said in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
HT had first reported on May 28 that, with improvement in infrastructure, India is getting ready to be more assertive along its disputed border with China.
Confirming another HT report, published on September 3, he told both Houses that National Security Advisory Board chief Shyam Saran had visited the Ladakh sector from August 2 to August 9 and submitted his report “primarily focused on border infrastructure” to the PMO and the defence ministry.
He also denied some media reports that China had occupied 640 sq km of Indian territory in the Ladakh sector.
Antony further told Parliament that improved infrastructure along the Indian side of the border with China is bringing the two armies closer to each other, resulting in “unpleasant and unfortunate” face-offs along the LAC.
Under fire from the BJP and the Samajwadi Party over frequent incursions from Chinese troops, he had to speak twice in the Lok Sabha on the issue.
In the Lok Sabha, BJP’s Yashwant Sinha wanted to know whether India was still in control of Despang Bulge, while SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav questioned the consistent Chinese claims on what he termed seven Indian states.
Antony said India had made significant leaps in improving infrastructure along the Chinese border over the last decade. “China also fears that India is trying to catch up. I can’t share everything,” he said.
Top government sources had told HT that improved infrastructure would allow Indian forces to patrol deeper into the disputed territory with China instead of restricting surveillance to a “patrolling limit” ranging from 2-20km within New Delhi’s perception of the LAC.
“China has built capacities and continues to do so. There will be no compromise on building capacities on our side,” Antony said. On incursions, he said just as India complains about Chinese incursions, Beijing also accuses India of carrying out patrols in what they consider their territory. “In recent years, patrols from both sides have been coming closer due to rapid infrastructure development,” he said.
Read HT's May 28 story: Indian patrols to move closer to China border