New Delhi: Amid ongoing border tension with China, Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane on Tuesday said that there has not been any decrease in the strength of troops either on the Chinese side or Indian side as far as friction points are concerned.
He was of the view that issues will be addressed between the two countries on the basis of mutual and equal security and exuded confidence that the two sides would be able to resolve the issue. He was addressing the annual press conference here, ahead of the Army Day on January 15.
“Every year PLA troops come to traditional training areas. With winter and completion of the training period, training areas have been vacated. Fair to assume those troops who were in-depth areas in Tibetan Plateau have gone back and that’s the reduction in strength on the plateau,” the Army Chief said. “There has been no decrease in strength either on their side (China) or our side as far as the friction points are concerned,” he said.
General Naravane said that there has been no change in the status quo in Eastern Ladakh and asserted that both sides would be able to reach an agreement, which would result in disengagement and de-escalation.
“As far as the situation in Eastern Ladakh is concerned, the situation is the same as prevailing last year. There has been no change in the status quo,’ he said.
Referring to the resolution of the present situation, he expressed the hope that based on the principle of mutual and equal security, the two sides would be able to reach an agreement that would result in disengagement and de-escalation and disengagement from the friction areas. “And, once de-escalation has been achieved then an overall de-escalation and a reduction in strength of the troops in the forward areas,” he said.
Asserting that the Army has maintained a high state of alertness all along the northern borders, he added: “We are hoping for a peaceful solution but are ready to meet any eventuality. All logistics are taken care of.’
The Army Chief’s note of caution and hope came even as the troops of India and China are facing a military stand-off in eastern Ladakh since April-May, 2020.
On being asked about the mobilisation by China in last summer, the Army chief said it was nothing new, they came for usual training in the areas, and that the Indian army is ready.
The Army chief said that Pakistan and China together form a potent threat and the threat of collusivity cannot be wished away.
“Pakistan continues to embrace terrorism. We have zero-tolerance for terror. We reserve our right to respond at a time and place of our own choosing and with precision. This is a clear message we have sent across,’ General Naravane said.
He said that a broad roadmap has been prepared to bring in all the new technologies to develop a technology-enabled army to meet challenges of future.
“The Army is in the middle of restructuring and are transforming from manpower to technology-intensive force, and we are looking at blockchain, big data, artificial intelligence and quantum computing. We are fully committed to various integrated commands. We will calibrate for smooth transition,” he said.
The Army chief said land surpluses like those from the soon-to-be closed military farms would be used to seek infrastructure of equal value.
On a recent report on stress in the military, he said the report was not based on an adequate sample size.