Dalai Lama’s Arunachal visit
Why China has overreacted to the Dalai Lama’s current visit to Arunachal Pradesh baffles an explanation. The Tibetan religious leader had visited Arunachal Pradesh several times in the past – in 1983, 1996, 1997, twice in 2003 and in 2009. Each time China expressed its displeasure but not in the manner it has done this time. There is a not-so-veiled threat that peace in the border region may be disturbed. It is true that the military equation between China and India has been changing over the years and decades. China is undoubtedly far stronger than India militarily but India has come a long way since 1962. China may hit India but India can certainly hit back and inflict ‘unacceptable’ damage on it.
The scenario has, indeed, changed a lot. Today, India has the Russian-built Sukhoi MK 3 aircraft that has a range of five thousand kms and can carry nuclear warheads. India has the 5000 kms plus range Agni V missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads that can hit any place in China. It has the submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) that can deliver nuclear warheads from under water that can hit their targets 3,500 kms away. New Delhi has already decided and announced that it has undertaken a massive project of railroad expansion in Arunachal Pradesh, at an estimated cost of Rs. 70,000 crores. Three lines are proposed to be built: one from Bhalukpung adjacent to Tezpur in Assam right up to Tawang on the Sino-Indian border (378 kms); the second from North Lakhmpur in Assam to Silapapthar (248 kms); and the third from Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh to Rupai in Tinsukia district of Assam (227 kms).
The construction of the railway network in Arunachal Pradesh is a sequel to the raising of the Mountain Strike Corps consisting of two infantry divisions, two independent armoured brigades, two independent artillery brigades and all other supporting branches. The proposed expansion of railway lines will enable India to move men and materiel to the borders in quick time. In case China embarks on a military adventure again, there will be no repetition of 1962. China knows it. China’s contrived anger at Dalai Lama’s latest visit to Arunachal betrays its admission of the fact that its massive logistic build-up against India in Tibet is going to be neutralized to a large extent in not-too-distant a future. The row over Dalai Lama’s visit and the threats and fulminations emanating from Beijing are aimed at deterring India from being prepared for defending itself against a future attack.