Indian soldiers at the LAC.

Indian soldiers at the LAC.

China footprint encircles India; armed drones for Pak, high altitude guns for Tibet

China funds study on why Nepal youth join the Indian Army's Gorkha regiment

Agency Report | New Delhi | 17 August, 2020 | 11:00 PM

China is helping Pakistan to boost its firepower by selling it state-of-the-art defence items, including armed drones, even as it is engaged with India at the borders in eastern Ladakh. China has also increased deployment of forces manifold in the Tibet region and has positioned the Combined Arms Brigade in deep areas near the Line of Actual Control with India. China has given 12.7 lakh Nepalese rupees to a Kathmandu-based NGO to carry out a study on what motivates Gorkha community members join the Indian Army.

Sources said that in the first week of June, China’s Ambassador to Nepal, Hou Yanqi, funded a Nepalese NGO — China Study Centre (CSC) — to conduct a study on Nepalis being recruited in the Gorkha regiments of the Indian Army.

“The CSC has been asked to conduct the study by addressing several points such as the reasons behind Nepalis joining the Indian Army, areas of Nepal from where such recruits are being made and their social-economic impact, their interest in joining the armed forces of foreign countries, among others,” a source said.

A fund of 12.7 lakh Nepalese rupees has been allocated by the Chinese Embassy for this task, said the source.

There are seven Gorkha regiments in the Indian Army comprising around 28,000 Nepali citizens. The regiments have a total 39 battalions. In total, there were 11 Gorkha Regiments, out of which four went to the British Army after Independence.

India has the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th and 11th Gorkha regiments while the British Army has the 2nd, 6th, 7th and 10th regiments.

The Gorkha community consists of mainly of four different tribes — are Khas (or Chetri), Gurung, Limbus and Rais.

The recruitment of Nepali Gorkhas into the Indian Army stems from an arrangement agreed to in 1947 between India, the UK and Nepal, known as the Tripartite Agreement.

But Nepal has now stated that this agreement is redundant. The assertion was made after Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli first raised the issue during his meeting with former UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

In the meantime, sources also said that the Communist Party of Nepal-Biplab, a banned underground insurgent outfit, has launched an extensive people’s awareness programme to stop the youth of Nepal from joining the Gorkha regiments of Indian Army.

Sources said the cultural wing of the CPN-Biplab is organising street plays, folk dances and other cultural events to spread anti-India campaigns.

The ties between India and Nepal have come under strain after Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80 km long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8.

Nepal protested the inauguration of the road, claiming that it passed through its territory. Days later, Nepal came out with a new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territories.

Nepal’s Parliament in June approved the new political map of the country featuring areas which India maintains belong to it. India said Nepal’s action violated an understanding that the two countries can resolve the border issues through talks.

China has also deployed high altitude artillery guns in Tibet amid the ongoing border tension with India in eastern Ladakh.

“The artillery guns, at an altitude of 4,600 meters, are deployed in Tibet general areas since last week of July,” sources said.

It was also revealed that China has deployed its ’150 Light Combined Arms Brigade of 77 Combat Command’ in Tibet Military District. The combined arms brigade is an adaptation of the American brigade combat team concept of efficient control and integration of various arms, rather than simple convergence. China has increased deployment of forces manifold in the Tibet region and has positioned the Combined Arms Brigade in deep areas near the Line of Actual Control with India.

China has positioned troops, artillery and armour in three sectors of Line of Actual Control – western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal). China has also mobilised soldiers near Uttarakhand’s Lipulekh Pass, a tri-junction between India, Nepal and China situated atop the Kalapani Valley.

The border tension between India and China has not been resolved despite several rounds of military and diplomatic talks. China’s commitment for disengagement at the border in eastern Ladakh remains unsatisfactory and India has directed its armed forces to prepare for a long haul.

China has also set up permanent structures near the border areas going against its commitment to India of disengagement.

The dispute started at the borders in eastern Ladakh after China changed the status quo on the Line of Actual Control at various places, moving inside Indian territory. India has objected to it and is taking up the matter with China at all levels.

On June 15, as many as 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops were killed in a violent clash in the Galwan Valley.

China is also helping Pakistan to boost its firepower by selling it state-of-the-art defence items, including armed drones, even as it is engaged with India at the borders in eastern Ladakh.
Intelligence sources said Pakistan is procuring medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) — Cai Hong-4 (CH-4) — from China in bulk.

Sources said that a 10-member team of Pakistan Army led by Brigadier Mohammad Zafar Iqbal has visited China to review the procurement process.

“The Pakistan Army team went to China for factory acceptance test for items procured from Aerospace Long-March International Trade Company (ALIT), China. Then was led by Brigadier Mohammad Zafar Iqbal,” a source said. It was also revealed that Iqbal has earlier visited China in December 2019 for the factory acceptance test of the first tranche of Cai Hong-4 for which delivery was to commence in 2020.

The CH-4 has a take-off mass between 1,200-1,300 kgs depending on the variant. It can also carry a wide range of payloads. The UAV is now in service with military forces including the Iraqi Army and the Royal Jordanian Air Force.

Sources also stated that ALIT has offered Pakistan command and control options, including direct line-of-sight and satellite communications.

Pakistan has planned to deploy these UAVs at the Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir to create further unrest in India. “China is helping Pakistan to do so,” said the source.

India and China are locked in an over three-month-long stand-off at multiple points, hitherto unprecedented along the border.

China had changed the status quo on the Line of Actual Control at various places, moving inside Indian territory. India has objected to it and is taking up the matter with China at all levels. The troop disengagement happened only at patrolling point-14 in Galwan Valley, the site of the June 15 clashes, and patrolling point-15 in Hot Springs. On June 15, as many as 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops were killed in a violent clash in the Galwan Valley.

Both the countries have engaged in military and diplomatic talks however nothing has materialized so far. The dispute remains unresolved and both the countries have started deploying troops and materiel at the disputed points. India has directed its armed forces to prepare for a long haul as the Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops are not moving back from the disputed points. (IANS)