China’s transgressions along the Line of Actual Control from the northern sector to the eastern sector in recent years have prompted India to bolster its military preparedness and infrastructure in the middle sector in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
The Middle Sector is yet to witness any serious Chinese breach of Indian territory, although some incidents have been reported in Uttarakhand’s Barahoti area.
Sources in the defence establishment said: “After the Galwan Valley face-off started, everything has changed on the ground. Sensitivity is very high across borders with China, and we have strengthened our positions in border areas.” The Central Sector has always been considered the settled border, but now things have changed after the May 2020 Chinese transgressions and their squatting of Indian territory in eastern Ladakh.
Aiming to strengthen its quick reaction time in the event of a Ladakh-like incident, the government has also given priority to this sector, especially in Uttarakhand, which is made of four valleys starting with Harshil, Mana, Niti, and Barahoti.
According to multiple sources, several infrastructure projects, including the construction of roads and bridges, are being rapidly carried out. They confirmed that our troops can now reach the most important access points — the mountainous passes — often even before the Chinese ground troops come for patrolling.
There are over 20 such passes along the border area in that sector, including the boundary shared between Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. A speedy build-up of road infrastructure made this possible.
The deployment of armoured vehicles in the Middle Sector is a result of the lesson learned in eastern Ladakh, where the Indian Army’s mobilization of tanks in areas not expected by the Chinese yielded some concessions from the PLA. Barahoti is the only area considered as ‘disputed’ by India and China in the Middle Sector, which is yet to be settled. There are seven other mutually-agreed disputed areas in the northern and the eastern sector. All other disputes between the two countries along the LAC are straightforward territorial claims by either side. On Friday, the troops of India and the United States concluded their 18th edition of bilateral army exercise ‘Yudh Abhyas 2022’ at Auli in Uttarakhand, 100 km from the line of actual control, which was objected to by the Chinese administration. China had stated that the show of military strength taking place around 100km from the India-China border violated the spirit of the border agreements of 1993 and 1996. India hit back, stating that the exercise Yudh Abhyas in Auli had nothing to do with the 1993 and 1996 Agreements.
“But since the Chinese side has mentioned these agreements, let me emphasise that the Chinese side needs to reflect and think about its own breach of these agreements of 1993 and 1996,” Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said.