Intrusion in Arunachal: China agrees to stop road construction work, India returns seized equipment

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NEW DELHI: China has agreed to stop road-construction activity across the Line of Actual Control + (LAC) near Bishing in Tuting area of ​​Arunachal Pradesh, with Indian troops returning from the two earth diggers and other equipment from Chinese workers in the region last month.

“The Tuting incident has been resolved.” A border personnel meeting (BPM) was held two days ago, “said Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Monday.As for Doklam near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction , where the rival troops were locked in an eyeball-to- eyeball confrontation for 73 days before finally disengaging on August 28, Gen. Rawat said there was a major reduction in the number of soldiers on the Chinese side.

The BPM in Arunachal Pradesh, with brigade commanders from the two sides leading the talks, was held on January 6. It was in late December that Chinese road-construction personnel had intruded almost a kilometer into the Indian territory near the Bishing village in the Upper Siang District of the state but were forced to retreat after being stopped by Indian troops, who seized their two excavators and other equipment on December 28, as was reported by TOI.

Unlike the belligerence shown during the Doklam standoff, the Chinese troops this time “reacted very maturely to accept that the differing perception of the LAC” had led its construction workers “to inadvertently transgress” into the Indian territory near the Bishing village. “They assured us they will take care to ensure their construction personnel do not cross over into our side again,” said an officer.

But road alignment and construction bids as well as troop transgressions across the 4,057-km LAC, which stretches from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, are highly unusual in winter months. It is an indication of the heightened tensions between the two armies after the Doklam stand-off, which saw both armies move additional infantry battalions, tanks, artillery and missile units forward towards the LAC.

As was first reported by TOI, around 1,600 Chinese troops have established a permanent presence in the Bhutanese territory of Doklam, with the construction of two helipads, upgraded roads, scores of pre-fabricated huts, shelters and stores to withstand the chill in the high -altitude region.

The Tuting area, incidentally, has never really been a “hotspot” for India-China border tensions, unlike the other “8-10 disputed areas” along the border in Arunachal Pradesh. Among these disputed areas are Asaphila, a remote 100 sq km area in Upper Subansiri division of the state, and the so-called “Fish Tail-I and II” areas in Chaglagam sector, which take its name from the shape the LAC takes in the region.