In a step demonstrating Jammu and Kashmir to be an integral part of India, a major general heading a counter-insurgency unit in the state is set to lead an army delegation to Beijing next month.
The choice of Gurmeet Singh — whose troops in Delta Force are responsible for counter-terrorism operations in three hill districts in the northeast of Jammu and Kashmir — comes a year after China had refused a visa to the then Northern Command chief, Lt Gen BS Jaswal, saying that he was “controlling troops in a disputed area, Jammu and Kashmir”.
The Centre had taken strong exception to it and issued a demarche to Beijing.
The visit will be from June 19 to 22.
Army sources said Singh was chosen head of the Indian delegation because he was an expert on China and had visited the country several times before.
This comes at a time when there are substantive reports that Pakistan and China are increasing their defence ties. Chinese troops are patrolling the Karokaram highway, linking China with Pakistan.
Pakistan, in its turn, has requested China to set up its naval base in Balochistan.
In August last year, the New York Times had reported there were 11,000 Chinese troops in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The Chinese influence has expanded from the Line of Actual Control to the Northern Areas of Pakistan.
The Chinese have escalated their aggressive tactics on the country border areas and the Indian Army is geared up to face the threat.
The Indian Army has activated its airfields along the Line of Actual Control and enhanced its military presence and capabilities in the area. The roads to these airfields have been upgraded.