No intrusions, major faceoffs in Eastern Command area since Ladakh crisis: Chauhan

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(Eds: With more inputs) Kolkata, Dec 16 (PTI) Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Anil Chauhan on Wednesday said there have been no intrusions or major face-offs in the area of responsibility of the Eastern Command since the Ladakh standoff between Indian troops and China's PLA.

He said post the Galwan Valley incident, bonhomie and mutual trust on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China evaporated, and it will take time for things to stabilise and rebuild.

'There have been no intrusions or major face-offs in the area of responsibility of Eastern Command since the friction erupted in Ladakh,' he said.

Lt Gen Chauhan, General-Officer-Commanding, Eastern Command, said the Indian Army and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China had undertaken some precautionary deployment during the Ladakh crisis, which is now witnessing a gradual de-induction in the eastern sector, due to the onset of winter.

'However, the Indian Army is fully prepared to beat any challenge during winter,' he told reporters at the Fort William here on the occasion of Vijay Diwas.

He said the PLA carried out rapid infrastructure development activities of roads and tracks, and of defences along the Sikkim border and in Kameng in Arunachal Pradesh.

'We are taking reciprocal actions and prepared to meet emerging challenges... They have tried to develop some kind of model villages next to the border areas, where they are looking to settle nomadic Tibetan population,' Lt Gen Chauhan said.

Regarding Doklam, he said it is an issue between the governments of Bhutan and China, and that India's involvement comes 'when we have to decide the tri-junction between the three nations'.

'Bhutan is a friendly nation with which the Government of India has very close ties. The Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB) and Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) have taken sufficient steps to protect their interest in this particular region and we feel assured by whatever steps they have taken,' he said.

Lt Gen Chauhan said that should there be a need felt by the RGOB or RBA to involve the Indian Army in any dispute with China, they are 'always welcome'.

On the alleged abduction of five youths of Arunachal Pradesh by the PLA in September, who were subsequently released, he said deployment on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the state is different from the eyeball-to-eyeball contact that the Indian Army has with Pakistan on the Line of Control (LoC) in the western sector.

He said there are some places where there is no deployment, but are frequently patrolled, adding that both the Indian Army and the PLA arrive at these locations from 'depth areas'.

'McMahon Line was based on a very inaccurate kind of survey and hence, the correct alignment of the LAC is disputed in this particular area; so inadvertent crossing by civilians is highly possible in this area and this is what happened when the five youths of Arunachal had gone to a place which the Chinese perceived as their LAC,' he said.

Lt Gen Chauhan, however, said the men were well within the Indian territory when they were apprehended by the PLA.

Asserting that this is not a 'one-sided game', he said that a Chinese national was recently apprehended after having crossed over to Sikkim and the person is still under apprehension.

Describing the counter-insurgency situation in parts of the northeast as stable, the Eastern Army commander said 'we may witness more reduction of the Army from the counter- insurgency grid.' PTI AMR RBT RBT