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Chinese Army Spotted Along LoC in PoK


After frequent incursions in the Ladakh area, troops of the c(PLA) of China have been spotted at forward posts along the Line of Control (LoC) on the Pakistan-held part of Kashmir, ringing alarm bells in India's security establishment. The Army has spotted the presence of senior PLA officials at forward posts in the Nowgam sector of the border in north Kashmir. Some intercepts of communications between Pakistani army officers suggested that the Chinese troops have come to set up some infrastructure along the LoC, sources in the know of developments said today.

The Army has officially maintained silence on the issue but has been constantly updating the intelligence agencies, sources said. The PLA troops were first spotted in the latter part of last year. Since then, their presence was witnessed in the Tangdhar sector as well.

The government-owned China Gezhouba Group Company Limited has been building the Jhelum-Neelum 970 MW hydroelectric power project in the area in response to India's Kishanganga power project in Bandipore of north Kashmir. The intercepts also suggested that PLA would be digging some tunnels in the Leepa Valley located in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) preparatory to building an all-weather road that will serve as an alternative route to reach the Karakoram highway.

The PLA officials' presence is seen by experts as part of Beijing's 46 billion dollar China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor (CPEC) under which Gwadar port in Karachi will be linked to China's Xinjiang province through the Karakoram highway, an area under the illegal occupation of China. As the CPEC project was given final shape, India last year registered its protest against the presence of Chinese troops in Gilgit and Baltistan. Experts in Indian security grid have been giving serious thought to the presence of PLA in close proximity with Pakistani army officials.

Srikanth Kondapalli, professor of Chinese studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, who has been part of a think-tank on Indian policy towards China, feels that the ever growing presence of PLA troops is a cause of worry for India. "What we know is that China is going to raise three divisions of PLA under a local name in PoK that will guard Chinese interests in occupied Kashmir. One needs to understand the game plan of Beijing," he said.

Reports emerging from PoK suggest that the PLA will establish a security wing in PoK under a local name so that India does not protest. The three new divisions, comprising around 30,000 men, will be deployed in and around the installations built by Chinese firms, sources said.

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