This isn’t likely to amuse Beijing.
Arunachal Pradesh has handed over the control of eight advanced landing grounds (ALGs) to the Ministry of Defence. One of these is in Tawang — the core of China’s claim to some 90,000 sq km territory on this side of the McMahon Line dividing the two countries.
The formality was completed on Tuesday with Union Defence Secretary Vijay Singh and the frontier state’s Chief Secretary Tabom Bam signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the presence of Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu.
Shortly after taking over as defence minister for a second straight term, A.K. Antony had last month emphasised the need to upgrade infrastructure in the country’s Northeast.
He said India wanted to improve its ties with China but would equip its armed forces to decimate threats from all quarters. China has been sprucing up infrastructure across India’s northeast at a ripping pace.
The MoU has almost coincided with New Delhi deciding to deploy two army divisions comprising over 25,000 soldiers each along the Indo-Tibetan border. Deployment of howitzers, combat choppers and unmanned aerial vehicles are also being planned along the 1,030 km unfenced border Arunachal shares with the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
The takeover of the ALGs has also come a week before the Indian Air Force formally moves a squadron of the multi-role Sukhoi 30-MKI strike fighter jets to the upgraded Tezpur air base in Assam. Tezpur is 385 km south of Tawang.
The IAF plans to deploy two Sukhoi squadrons in the Northeast. Other than Tawang and Mechuka, the other ALGs are at Walong, Tuting, Vijaynagar, Daporijo, Aalo, Ziro and Pasighat.
The ALGs are an outcome of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s commitment during his visit to Arunachal last year to fortify the frontier.