Modi warns of re­tal­i­a­tion amid mil­i­tary buildup

New Delhi strength­ens mis­sile de­fense sys­tems as ten­sions with China grow

Arab News - - News Internatio­nal - San­jay Ku­mar New Delhi

In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi said on Sun­day that In­dia “knows how to re­tal­i­ate” amid re­ports of a mil­i­tary buildup on its dis­puted bor­der with China in the Hi­malayan re­gion of Ladakh.

“In­dia has given a be­fit­ting re­sponse to those who dared to eye her ter­ri­tory in Ladakh,” Modi said, re­fer­ring to June 15 clashes that claimed the lives of 20 In­dian sol­diers at the Gal­wan Val­ley in Ladakh — the first such in­ci­dent be­tween In­dian and Chi­nese troops in 45 years.

“In­dia knows how to main­tain friend­ships, but it can also look some­one in the eye and re­tal­i­ate and give an apt re­ply,” the prime min­is­ter said in his monthly ra­dio address.

The com­ments come as re­ports sug­gest New Delhi has de­ployed the ad­vanced quick-re­ac­tion sur­faceto-air mis­sile de­fense sys­tem Akash to the bor­der.

“As part of the on­go­ing buildup in the sec­tor, the air de­fense sys­tems of both In­dian Army and the In­dian Air Force have been de­ployed in the sec­tor to pre­vent any mis­ad­ven­ture by the Chi­nese fighter jets or the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army chop­pers there,” a lo­cal news agency re­ported, quot­ing gov­ern­ment sources.

Manoj Ke­wal­ra­mani, of the Ban­ga­lore-based think tank Tak­shashila In­sti­tu­tion, told Arab News it is clear that “there has been a change in the sta­tus quo from April, with the Chi­nese army estab­lish­ing new po­si­tions in ar­eas where it didn’t have them ear­lier.”

He added: “There has also clearly been a buildup on both sides de­spite talks con­tin­u­ing. It’s a tense sit­u­a­tion, and it seems it will be pro­tracted in na­ture,” he said. Ac­cord­ing to po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Prof. Srikanth Kon­da­palli, of Jawa­hal­lal Nehru Univer­sity, “the en­tire bor­der from Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh to Ladakh is ac­tive now.” Ten­sions es­ca­lated in early May when In­dian troops ac­cused China’s mil­i­tary of hin­der­ing their pa­trols along the Ladakh and Sikkim bor­der.

In re­turn, Bei­jing blamed its south­ern neigh­bor for build­ing road in­fra­struc­ture in the Fin­gers re­gion around the Pan­gong Tso Lake and Gal­wan Val­ley in east­ern Ladakh.

Vi­o­lence broke out in the Gal­wan Val­ley on June 15 when both sides were sup­pos­edly ne­go­ti­at­ing de-es­ca­la­tion mea­sures.

Three days later, Modi ad­dressed the na­tion, say­ing “no one has in­truded” into In­dian ter­ri­tory. He has since been ac­cused of fail­ing to tell the truth by the main op­po­si­tion Congress Party and former army gen­er­als, who said that satel­lite im­ages showed a Chi­nese buildup on the In­dian side of the bor­der.

“The prime min­is­ter should address the na­tion and tell the truth that the Chi­nese have en­croached on our land. Oth­er­wise the Chi­nese will use his state­ment to their ad­van­tage,” Congress spokesper­son Kapil Sibal said on Satur­day. How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Kon­da­palli, the gov­ern­ment is un­able to re­veal strate­gic in­for­ma­tion.

“The pre­vi­ous Congress regime did not do that,” he said, adding that trans­gres­sions on the un­de­fined bor­der oc­cur ev­ery day. Bor­der ten­sions have led to a cam­paign to boy­cott Chi­nese goods in In­dia.

Files/Reuters

In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi has said ‘In­dia knows how to main­tain friend­ships, but it can also look some­one in the eye and re­tal­i­ate.’

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