NEW DELHI: India will raise seven new battalions of the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) in the next few years, a minister said on Wednesday, amid tensions with neighbour China that led to deadly border clashes in 2020 and scuffles late last year.

The undemarcated 3,800-km frontier between the nuclear-armed countries stayed largely peaceful since a war in 1962, before the clashes nearly three years ago sent relations nosediving.

The ITBP primarily guards the India-China border, stretching from the Karakoram Pass in Ladakh in India’s north to Jachep La in Arunachal Pradesh state in the east. Indian and Chinese troops have been involved in hand-to-hand clashes at some areas of the frontier in the past few years.

The new battalions, approved in a cabinet meeting and to come up by 2025/26, will cover 47 new border outposts and 12 staging camps of the ITBP, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur told a news conference.

Indian and Chinese troops had minor border scuffles in December in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh, also claimed by Beijing.

The clashes were the first since troops were involved in hand-to-hand combat in the Galwan valley of Ladakh, abutting the Chinese-held Tibetan plateau. That incident led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese troops.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2023

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