Close on the heels of the Chinese intrusion in the Ladakh sector and subsequent violent clashes that claimed the lives of 20 soldiers, a high-level panel of the Himachal Pradesh Police has recommended the state government to strengthen the road and communication network in Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti along Chinese border and build new airstrips.
The panel comprising five battalion superintendents of police (SP) visited 36 villages in the two tribal districts, which share a long border with the hostile neighbouring country.
The director general of police had constituted a panel of the five Indian Police service officers, comprising commandants of different police battalions that included Sanjeev Gandhi (2nd IRB Sakoh), Soumya Sambasivan (3rd IRB Pandoh), Anupam Sharma (5th IRB Bassi),Sakshi Verma (1st IRB Bangarh) ,and Virender Singh (4th IRB Jangalberi).
The director general of police had sent the panel to 36 villages close to the Chinese border in Kinnaur and Lahaul Spiti district.
The panel was sent as part of confidence building measures post Chinese intrusion in Galwan valley in Ladakh, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed in hand-to-hand combat between the Indian army and Chinese troops.
“The report has been submitted to the government for consideration,” said director general of police Sanjay Kundu. Panel also made a presentation to the governor, Bandaru Dattatreya, recently and the report was kept in the state cabinet.
The panel had recommended construction of two roads - Wangtu in Kinnaur to Mud in Spiti valley, which will shorten the distance between the strategic locations in the two districts by 120 kilometers.
It recommended another road between Brua in Kinnaur to Harshil in Uttrakhand over the 17320-feet high Khaga pass.
The panel has also recommended handing over the Karchham-Chhitkul road in Kinnaur to Border Roads Organisation (BRO). The road is maintained by Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department.
Apart from the roads, the panel has suggested that dependable and round-the-clock communication system should be installed.
DRONES FROM CHINA A MATTER OF CONCERN
To tackle drones from China, the police panel has advised that air defence assets be positioned at appropriate locations to prevent violation of the Indian Air Space.
New airstrips must be developed in the Spiti area in Lahaul-Spiti district for prompt deployment of forces in the border areas in case of need to act as advanced landing grounds. Helipads must also be developed in the forward areas, the panel advised.
“The state CID must establish three counter espionage units in the border area in overall national security interests,” the panel said, adding that the presence of Central Intelligence Agencies, Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) should be increased to improve people’s morale and confidence to meet with any unforeseen incident of intrusion.
The panel further observed that the Atal Tunnel between Manali and Keylong is likely to be commissioned shortly and this will result in increase in traffic along the Manali–Leh axis.
“As this axis will have strategic importance, adequate arrangements like intelligence, security and maintenance of the axis round the year should be made in advance,” the panel said.
It also stresses on imparting basic Chinese and Tibetan language training to ITBP and State intelligence agencies.
RAISE BATTALIONS OF KINNAUR, LAHAUL-SPITI SCOUTS
The panel also recommended that on the pattern of Ladakh Scouts, Battalions of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti scouts should be raised to be called Himachal Scouts.
These Scouts can be used to dominate the 240-Km Indo-China border in Himachal, the panel said.
Further the economic activities should be increased to repopulate the areas. Tribal tourism may be promoted and marketing of local flowers and produce may also be encouraged. Such measures will lead to re-population of the border areas, the panel said.
The police panel observed that the people were patriotic and possess high morale and must be given guerrilla training by Central Para Military Forces. Prior to 2001 the SSB would give such trainings to the villagers.