Checking China: 24 yrs later, ‘Op Falcon’ still awaits nodhttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Indi ... 018308.cms
NEW DELHI: Here’s yet another example of the Indian defence establishment’s continuing ultra-defensive mindset over China: Almost quarter of a century after Army launched ‘Operation Falcon’ along the border in Arunachal Pradesh, the government is yet to promulgate it.
Promulgation of an operation accords it with official sanctity, as also leads to better financial and other benefits to soldiers involved in the event of casualties during its conduct. Even as India belatedly tries to counter the massive build-up of military infrastructure by China all along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Army has once again approached the defence ministry (MoD) to rectify this ‘‘embarrassing anomaly’’, sources said. MoD spokesperson Sitanshu Kar, despite repeated queries, stuck to the line that ‘‘the ministry has nothing at all to say’’ about Operation Falcon. Sources, however, said the file ‘‘was still shuttling’’ between the ministry and Army headquarters, with the former ‘‘raising queries after queries’’ to stonewall the promulgation.
A senior MoD official said, ‘‘Yes, there is reluctance to make Operation Falcon public and official by promulgating it. India and China, after all, are engaged in talks to amicably resolve the border issue.’’ China, however, continues to be aggressive about its claim over the Tawang tract in Arunchal Pradesh. Moreover, Chinese ‘‘transgressions’’ continue in all the three LAC sectors — western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal) — to strengthen claims over disputed territories.
Operation Falcon was launched in late-1986 after the People’s Liberation Army began to make ‘‘deep intrusions’’ in the Sumdorong Chu Valley of Arunachal in June that year. Around that time, China also began to construct helipads and other permanent structures in the area to operationally sustain its troops. New Delhi did lodge formal protests with Beijing but to no avail, with the then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping even threatening to teach India a lesson on the lines of the one taught in 1962.
Amid rising diplomatic tempers, the then Army chief General Krishnaswami Sundarji moved swiftly to air-lift an entire infantry brigade under Operation Falcon to Zimithang, a makeshift landing area close to Sumdorong Chu, to counter Chinese moves in the region. Troop reinforcements from both sides continued till about mid-1987 when diplomatic engagement finally led to cooling down of the stand-off, with even a pact to move back some border outposts of either side.
The forward deployment of troops, which began under Operation Falcon, however, still continues. It’s only in the last couple of years that India has stepped up efforts to strategically counter the Chinese build-up along the LAC.
Apart from beginning to base Sukhoi-30MKI fighters in North-East as well as upgrading airstrips and helipads, India is also raising two new specialised infantry mountain divisions (35,000 soldiers) and an artillery brigade for Arunachal Pradesh.