India keen on northern command chief's visit to China ahead of Modi

  • Tarun Upadhyay, Hindustan Times, Tarun Upadhyay Jammu
  • Updated: May 06, 2015 09:04 IST

India and China are holding deliberations for the visit of northern command army commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda to China ahead of the Prime Minister's scheduled visit from May 15. It will be first visit of the northern command chief after China had denied visa to the former commander of the northern command, Lt Genl (retired) BS Jaiswal in 2010.

"There is strong possibility of Lt General Hooda visiting China. China though, has some reservations, however, India is keen to facilitate the visit, which has wider ramifications," said a senior army official, wishing not to be named.

The visit, if materialised, will be the first visit of the commander of the northern command, based in Udhampur, which shares borders with Pakistan and China.

China continues to consider J&K a 'disputed' territory and issues stapled visas to the residents of the state. Northern command has the largest army personnel among the five commands of the army.

The army has about five lakh personnel stationed in J&K.

China had in August 2010 didn't allow the visit of the then northern command chief Gen Jaiswal stating that it can't "welcome" him because he "controls" a disputed area. India had then lodged strong protest with China.

"If China allows the visit of the northern command chief, it will suggest that it has reversed its decision on J&K as a disputed territory," said the army official, wishing not to be named.

China has termed Pakistan its 'natural' friend, though Pakistan continues to support terrorism and separatism in J&K.

The two armies had a major stand-off in September last year, when the Chinese premier Xi Jinping was on a visit to India. At that time, the Chinese army had pitched in tents and sent troops inside Indian territory.

The Centre has in Parliament said there has not been incident of incursion, but a total 1,612 "transgression" incidents happened between January 1, 2010 and August 4, 2014, which were attributed to a mere difference in perception of the LAC between the two side.

Last September also, China had pushed in civilians at Demochok, about 230-km east of Leh, to stop repair work of irrigation canal. It was a counter move by China after India objected to its road link construction work inside the Indian-held territory in Chumar, about 90-km from Demchok.

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