September 12, 2013 By Arup Chanda - freepressjournal.in
Kolkata : Following frequent incursions by China violating the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian Army is planning to set up an armoured corps base in north Bengal.
Following intelligence reports and Chinese activity along the LAC, the Indian Army has marked parts of north Bengal and north-east region of the country, particularly Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as its own territory, as a ‘sensitive zone’.
A senior army official recently met West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee after she came down to Siliguri from the hills of Darjeeling and asked for 200 acres of land next to the Binaguri army cantonment in north Bengal.
He held a closed door meeting with Banerjee and apprised her of the situation and speed up handing over the land to establish an armoured corps division in the area. He stressed the need saying that China was actively increasing its influence in bordering Bhutan and Nepal, according to military intelligence reports.
China, he said, was carrying out many charitable activities and imparting free education through some voluntary organisations next to the LAC, and using them to carry out espionage activities in the region. China is also spending huge sums of money in setting up Buddhist monasteries in the region, he informed Banerjee.
The army plans not only to increase its personnel but also have an armoured crops division with tanks and large number of armoured vehicles.
The Indian Army currently has 63 armoured corps regiments and taking into account China’s military plans has also raised the Ladakh Scouts. In view of the recent developments it might raise another armoured corps regiment armed with MBT Arjun tanks and armoured vehicles to be deployed in north Bengal.
Though Banerjee, it was learnt, gave a patient hearing to the senior army official, she kept silent about acquiring land as her government was opposed to take away land from farmers.
However, a defence ministry official here remarked: “Not acquiring land from farmers for industry might be the chief minister’s policy for vote bank politics but this is a case of national security. The country’s security can never be compromised because of populism.
“We need the land as soon as possible to expand our base as we have been receiving disturbing reports about Chinese activities across the border in this region not only from military intelligence but also from other agencies of the central government,” he said.