Nothing new in face-offs between India and China troops: Army Chief

There’s nothing new in the face-offs between the Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh and Sikkim and have no connection with any domestic or international situation prevailing today, Army Chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane said on Wednesday. In an interview with ANI, Naravane said these faceoffs have been happening in the past as well and “we will deal with it as per protocol between the two countries”.

The Army chief emphasised that face-offs between People’s Liberation Army troops and Indian soldiers are nothing new as the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is not very “well defined”. He, however, asserted that the armed force will deal with the issue as per the protocol laid out between the two countries. The Army chief’s remarks came after Indian forces had face-offs with Chinese forces in North Sikkim and eastern Ladakh recently.

“As far the situation in northern borders is concerned, LAC is not very well defined. There are different perceptions where the LAC runs. Accordingly, both sides patrol up to their accepted claimed lines and, therefore, when patrols reach at the same place and at the same time such faceoffs do occur. They have occurred in the past and there is nothing new in what has happened in last week or ten days,” the Army chief said.

“It is just a matter of chance that the face-off in eastern Ladakh happened during the same period but we should not read too much into this that this is part of some coordinated plan. There is nothing like that… But we will deal with it as per the protocol which has been laid out between the two countries and in accordance with strategic guidelines,” he added. Naravane said that he has recently visited Eastern Command as well as southwestern command.

“Within this month, I have visited both Eastern Command and Sikkim and have just come back from south-western command. I had the opportunity to meet troops and commanders on the ground. Everyone’s morale is high and we are totally prepared to meet all our challenges and tasks which have been given to us,” he said. The Army chief said that Indian Army is always working towards self-reliance and a majority of its orders have gone into firms in the country.

“We always working towards self-reliance and I have been fully in support of the Make in India initiative. In the past, we have also had new categorisations like Make 1, Make 2 which make it much easier for private industries to participate in defence-related products and they can make it in India for us. So, we are not only doing indigenisation through our PSUs and Ordnance Factory Board,” he said when asked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for self-reliant India.

“We also want to get local industry and indigenous players into the fold of making defence-related products. More than 70-80 per cent of the Army’s orders both in numbers and cost have gone to Indian firms and we will continue doing it in the future also. Recently, we have signed an order of Rs 70 crore with L&T and we will continue to support indigenisation process,” he added.

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