- Aug 7, 2009
KOLKATA: The Army is creating a new Mountain Division for the Northeast, headquartered in central Nagaland or the adjoining areas of Upper Assam.
Although it will be stationed in an area when the Army is engaged in counter-insurgency operations, sources say the division could also have the task of keeping an eye on the Chinese border in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh, sources indicated.
The Army brass is keeping the plan under the wraps, since there were protests from China some time ago that induction of more troops in Arunachal could lead to an arms race in the region. The Army is cagey about the role of the proposed division.
"It is nothing much,'' a senior officer based in Dimapur said. "It is not that we are going to induct 50,000 new troops.'' According to the brass, the role of a new formation can't be determined properly until it participates in a war game. The formalities are yet to be completed, said another officer, although it is learnt that the proposal was sanctioned long ago.
Nagaland earlier had a division stationed there to fight insurgency the 8 Mountain Division which was subsequently shifted to Jammu and Kashmir and played a crucial role in the Kargil operations. Insurgency in Nagaland is now on a low key, after the two National Socialist Council of Nagaland factions entered into ceasefire agreements with the Centre.
Analysts say a division stationed in central Nagaland could have a counter-insurgency role in places like Tirap and Changlang in Arunachal which are not far from the Myanmar border. It could also be mobilized rapidly to the India-China border in Arunachal in case of an emergency. Places like Lohit and Dibang valley in eastern Arunachal, bordering China, are accessible from the area.
Placing the mountain division away from Arunachal would circumvent the problem of inducting more troops near the international border in contravention of international agreements, sources said.
It is generally acknowledged that China has an upper hand in the Arunachal sector of the border. With extensive road and railway infrastructure at its disposal in the Tibet plateau, China can quickly mobilize a large number of troops to the border. Chinese claim on Arunachal, incursions across the Line of Actual Control and presence of disputed areas, like Wangdong valley, Asaphila and Madan Ridge, have heightened India's concerns. Compared with this, the road infrastructure on the Indian side of the border lags far behind, especially in the central and eastern parts of Arunachal.
Frequent Chinese incursions across the LAC have prompted the strengthening of the Army presence in Sikkim by bringing back to north Bengal a division that had moved to J&K during the Kargil conflict, the sources said.
New N-E division with eye on China? - India - NEWS - The Times of India