BSF, ITBP, and SSB are deployed by India to guard the SILIGURI Corridor in response to China’s actions in Bhutan.

World News

India will now send Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) soldiers to secure the strategically vital Siliguri Corridor, often known as “Chicken Neck,” which connects the north-eastern states with the rest of the nation, notwithstanding the ongoing border impasse with China in eastern Ladakh. According to sources in the defence and security establishment, “the troops will be deployed on the entire stretch of the corridor during peacetime as it has been marked as ‘vulnerable areas and vulnerable points’.”

“A decision has been made and additional conversations are currently being held in this direction. Three border guarding units will initially be deployed in the designated susceptible areas and vulnerable points: the Border Security Force (BSF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), the sources said.

According to information obtained, the ongoing border standoff between the two Himalayan giants, China and India, along the Line of Actual Control, as well as China’s construction of dual-use border villages along Bhutan’s borders and the start of boundary talks between Beijing and Thimphu to settle their long-standing border dispute, have prompted the Indian side to consider sending troops from CAPFs. The Siliguri Corridor is a small section of territory in West Bengal that is thought to be particularly vital from a geostrategic perspective for New Delhi. It is only 20–22 km wide at its narrowest point. Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Nepal are its neighbours.

After years of “salami slicing” or slowly annexing land along its border with Bhutan, China has begun to engage that little country in talks about settling the boundary. China wants to win Bhutan over to its side in order to cut off New Delhi from Thimpu’s defence and diplomatic affairs. In 1996, it offered a “package deal” that included giving up claims on 495 sq km in the “central sector” in exchange for 269 sq km in the “northwest,” or the area near the Chumbi valley, which included Doklam, Sinchulumpa, Dramana, and Shakhatoe. However, Thimphu later declined the offer after being convinced by New Delhi.

Beijing intends to gain control of the Jhampheri Ridge and the Doklam region in order to expand the key Chumbi Valley, which would provide China more access points and freedom to mobilise in the event of a military clash with India. Currently, China has improved connectivity in the remote parts of the Chumbi Valley, which is near to Siliguri on the Indian border of Tibet.

We are looking at a whole-of-nation approach, which not only includes the armed forces but also the administrations of states around the Siliguri Corridor and central agencies. That was what Gen. Manoj Pande, then the Eastern Army Commander and now the head of the Indian Army, had said in 2021 when discussing the security and defence of the vulnerable Siliguri corridor. The goal is to collaborate in order to address both this threat, which arises in non-conflict situations, and the hybrid threat. He added that a joint coordination facility run by the Army has shown to be successful in coordinating the efforts of all organisations that operate in the area.

The Chinese attempted to build roads in Bhutanese territory during the Doklam stalemate in 2017, but the Indian army opposed. Only after a phone call between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping did the 73-day deadlock come to a conclusion. The Indian Army repelled the Chinese’s attempts to transform the tri-junction into Gamochen.

The Indian security forces have undertaken a number of exercises in the previous 1.5 years near this corridor to verify their operational readiness and cooperation in a networked environment. ‘Trishakti Prahar’ and ‘Vayu Prahar’ were two of the significant drills, with the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and CAPFs participating.

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