Gen Chauhan visited ‘forward areas’ in north Bengal and the Hasimara air base, where a squadron of the new Rafale fighters is based, as well as the headquarters of the 33 ‘Trishakti’ Corps at Sukna, where he was briefed on the operational situation along the northern borders in Sikkim, on Saturday and Sunday.
“Accompanied by 33 Corps commander Lt-General V P S Kaushik, the CDS assessed the progress of infrastructure development, operational and logistics preparedness in the region,” an officer said on Sunday.
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There are no signs yet of any de-escalation along the 3,488-km LAC, with China relentlessly strengthening its military positions, border infrastructure and air bases facing India. The latest indication of China’s hardened stance came on April 2 when it “standardised” the names of 11 places in Arunachal Pradesh.
A major concern for India in the region is the way the People’s Liberation Army has stepped up its activities and infrastructure development in the Bhutanese territory of Doklam near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction.
This underlines the threat to the Siliguri Corridor or ‘Chicken’s Neck’, the narrow strip of land in north Bengal that connects the northeast with the rest of India.
Both the Army and IAF have taken steps to bolster “offensive and defensive capabilities” in the eastern sector, after the ongoing military confrontation erupted following multiple PLA intrusions into eastern Ladakh in the western sector in April-May 2020.
In February, for instance, the Army operationalised its first ‘Abhra’ medium range surface-to-air missile (MR-SAM) regiment in the 33 Corps, which is tasked with the defence of the LAC in Sikkim and the Siliguri Corridor. The IAF has also now deployed the even more potent Russian-origin S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile system.
“Several steps with a ‘whole of government approach’ have been taken to mitigate the threat to the Siliguri Corridor. There are also adequate forces in the reserves that can be quickly deployed for defensive operations. Or, if required in a counter-offensive role in adjacent areas,” a senior officer said.