By S Venkat Narayan
Our Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI, October 17: India will deploy BrahMos cruise missilies in Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast, a state that shares a disputed border with China. It will be India’s first offensive tactical missile deployment against its giant neighbour.
Pressing ahead with the second phase of its military expansion along the China front, the government has given the go-ahead for BrahMos cruise missiles’ deployment in Arunachal Pradesh.
The two Asian giants had fought a bloody war in the Himalayas in 1962 over a disputed border—-a legacy left behind by the British rulers since the early 1900s. Today, China is India’s biggest trading partner. They work closely in the world fora and are together in regional institutions like RIC (Russia-India-China) trilateral forum and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). They are trying to settle their century-old border dispute through negotiations. And not a single bullet has been fired across the nearly 3,500-km-long Sino-Indian border during the last three decades.
The three BrahMos missile regiments raised so far have been deployed in the western sector to counter the Pakistan threat. This will be the fourth regiment.
With a range of 290 km, these cruise missiles—-products of Indo-Russian joint collaboration and named after India’s Brahmaputra and Russia’s Moskva rivers—-are being deployed to improve India’s military reach into the Tibet Autonomous Region and to counter China’s elaborate missile deployment along the Sino-Indian border.
This dovetails with India’s second expansion plan but is being fast-tracked because of urgency shown by the armed forces, according to unidentified official sources quoted in media reports here today.
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has also cleared the five-year expansion plan for which he had given the green signal earlier. The plan involves fresh accretion of 89,000 troops, with 400 officers.
This is estimated to cost over INR 650 billion, making it one of India’s biggest one-time military expansion effort. The proposal is now with the Finance Ministry, and will be put up before the Cabinet Committee on Security.
Linked to this, the CCS has decided to focus on security of Indian islands with the larger view of securing maritime routes criss-crossing the Indian Ocean.
Two Army brigades are also being lined up for the Andamans while a battalion-strength presence is being considered for Lakshadweep alongside the Navy. Air Force assets are also being increased in these island territories, the sources said.
The second Army expansion on the China border will include setting up a corps headquarters in Panagarh, West Bengal, along with two more divisions. An independent armoured brigade along with an artillery division will be part of the set-up.