In a recent report, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) claimed that communist China has built a vast 100-home civilian village inside the disputed territory between the Tibet Autonomous Region and the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
At a media briefing on Nov. 11, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “As we had stated then, China has undertaken construction activities in the past several years along the border areas, including those that it has illegally occupied over the decades. India has neither accepted such illegal occupation of our territory nor has it accepted the unjustified Chinese claims.”
He also added that the Indian government has repeatedly expressed its strong objections against such acts through “diplomatic means” and would continue them moving forward. New Delhi is also acutely aware of any changes that would have an impact on India’s security while ensuring its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Bagchi further revealed that India, too, had beefed up infrastructural development in regions flanking the border with communist China by building bridges and roads.
General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) of the Indian armed forces, contradicted the U.S. report. Speaking at the Times Now Summit 2021, General Rawat told reporters, “As far as we are concerned, no such village development has taken place on our side of the LAC… The present controversy – that has erupted – that the Chinese have come across into our territory and built a new village is not true.” He claimed that any village being constructed by Beijing is “well within their side of the LAC (Line of Actual Control).”
However, the defense chief did provide some clarity on the motive with which the Chinese were building villages in proximity to the LAC.
“Chinese building villages along the LAC is true. But what I wish to come out with is, Chinese are building villages possibly for billeting and locating their civilians, or for the military in the future, all along the Line of Actual Control, particularly after the recent face-offs that we’ve had,” he added.
When asked as to whether such village building was a show of muscle-flexing from the communist regime, Rawat replied, “Certainly not, I won’t call it muscle-flexing. With the development of these villages, they are trying to make sure that they reach out to their border areas, and it is something we should also be doing.”
The General also said that amidst its tensions over border area development, the Indian government had also dispensed funds for BADP (Border Area Development Program) projects.
He concluded by saying that a large number of villages along the Indian LAC are being depopulated as people are moving to inner areas for better health, infrastructure, jobs, and education. Attempts are being made to motivate people to go back and stay in these villages.
The contrasting opinions offered by Bagchi and Rawat over the LAC Chinese villages could pose an issue as it fails to convey a sense of unity within the Indian administration.
Furthermore, if the various departments of the government aren’t in sync, the complexity in decision-making and implementation of strategies is bound to increase.