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China doubled its air bases, air defences and heliports near LAC in three years: Report

Amid the current standoff in Ladakh that became public in early May, there have been numerous reports of China deploying additional troops, special forces, armoured units and air defence units on the Tibetan plateau

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New Delhi: China began building at least 13 new military positions, including airbases and air defence units, near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India after the 2017 standoff at Doklam, with work on four heliports beginning after the current tensions in Ladakh.

Details of these military positions are outlined in a report released on Tuesday by Stratfor, a leading security and intelligence consultancy. The new positions include three airbases, five permanent air defence positions and five heliports.

“Construction on four of those new heliports started only after the onset of the current Ladakh crisis in May,” said the report authored by Sim Tack, a Belgium-based security and a military analyst with Stratfor.

“The 2017 Doklam crisis appears to have shifted China’s strategic objectives, with China more than doubling its total number of airbases, air defence positions, and heliports near the Indian border over the past three years,” it added.

The Chinese military is building four air defence positions within existing airbases, and other facilities such as additional runways and shelters that will help obscure combat aircraft from observation. It has also been deploying more air defence systems and fighter aircraft to existing facilities, the report said.

Expansion of Chinese Military Facilities and Construction in the Tibetan Plateau

Amid the current standoff in Ladakh that became public in early May, there have been numerous reports of China deploying additional troops, special forces, armoured units and air defence units on the Tibetan plateau.

Analysis of open source satellite imagery has shown that China has created a surface-to-air missile site on the banks of Mansarovar Lake in Tibet, and is developing similar facilities to cover sensitive stretches of the disputed border in the Doklam and Sikkim sectors.

A graphic included in the Stratfor report showed that China had only one heliport and one air defence site on the Tibetan plateau in 2016, and there was a substantial expansion and upgrade of its military infrastructure in the area since 2019.

Last year, China developed four airbases, four air defence sites, one heliport and one electronic warfare station.

China has developed four airbases, four heliports and one air defence site on the Tibetan plateau this year. Work on heliports and one airbase began after the tensions in Ladakh.

“The rapid expansion of permanent Chinese military infrastructure points to intentions that span a wider timeframe than current and recent border standoffs,” the report said.

A significant portion of China’s recent infrastructure developments is aimed at “strengthening its ability to project air power along the entire Indian border” and exploiting potential “gaps in India’s capabilities”.

The report surmised that such “long-term developments rise above the more immediate deployments that China conducted in its previous border standoffs with India, and indicates future intent to ramp up Chinese assertive military posturing in border disputes with India”.

“China’s strategy aims to confront India with an insurmountable challenge in territorial disputes by leaning on broad support capabilities that provide Beijing with a tremendous ability to mobilise forces into disputed border areas,” it said, adding that such an approach is similar to Beijing’s strategy in the South China Sea, where a build-up of permanent defence facilities supports Chinese “localised military superiority and significantly raises the potential cost of military opposition to Beijing’s maritime claims in the region”.

By applying the same strategy on the LAC, China aims to “discourage Indian resistance or military action during future border disputes by ostentatiously demonstrating its ability and intent to engage in military confrontations”.

Following a string of smaller skirmishes that culminated in the June 15 clash, which killed 20 Indian soldiers and also caused unspecified Chinese casualties, the two sides have deployed around 50,000 additional troops each along the LAC. After several rounds of military and diplomatic talks failed to take forward the disengagement process, China resorted to “provocative” military manoeuvres on August 29 and 30 that were thwarted by the Indian side.

This was followed by a string of incidents in which guns were fired for the first time along the LAC since 1975, though there were no casualties.

“China’s intensified development of military infrastructure on the Indian border suggests a shift in Beijing’s approach to territorial disputes, forcing New Delhi to rethink its national security posture,” the Stratfor report said.

While China’s new developments are geographically focused on Ladakh, its activity “across India’s entire border will likely drive future expansions of Indian military infrastructure near disputed borders at Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh”, it said.

The report warned: “By forcing India to respond in kind, China’s aggressive strategy is leading to a greater concentration of military assets in heavily disputed areas along the border that could raise the risk of potential escalations and sustained conflict.”

India

‘Not allowed to meet anyone’: Delhi riots accused Umar Khalid tells court

Khalid was arrested under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the communal violence that took place in Northeast Delhi in February this year.

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Umar Khalid

Former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Umar Khalid, who is in judicial custody in connection with his alleged role in Delhi riots, on Thursday claimed that he is not being allowed to step out of his cell or meet anyone, alleging that it is a form of solitary confinement.

“Security does not mean that I should be punished like this,” Khalid told a Delhi court during a hearing. He said that this is being done on the orders of additional jail superintendent.

Khalid also said that he is not well from the last few days and due to the orders to keep him confined to the cell all the time, he is feeling discomfort, not just physical but also mental.

The court then summoned the jail superintendent, and posted the matter for further hearing on Friday.

On October 17, the court had directed the Delhi Police to give adequate security to Khalid. The order came on a petition filed by the JNU student seeking adequate security because of his “ideological differences and dissenting opinion”.

Khalid was arrested under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the communal violence that took place in Northeast Delhi in February this year.

A Delhi court had on September 24 sent Khalid to judicial custody till October 22. At the end of the custody today, the police moved an application to keep Khalid in the judicial custory for another month.

The court will hear the matter on Friday and is expected to pass the order of Delhi Police’s petition.

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India

Govt restores all existing visas, barring electronic, tourist and medical categories

This includes flights operated under ‘Vande Bharat’ mission, air transport bubble arrangements or by any non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation

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Indian Passport

New Delhi, Oct 22 : The government on Thursday decided to restore with immediate effect all existing visas, except electronic, tourist and medical categories, almost eight months after their suspension following the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent imposition of a nationwide lockdown

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) also announced giving permission to all Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card holders and all other foreign nationals to visit India for any purpose, except on a tourist visa

The ministry said in a statement that in view of the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government had taken a series of steps to curtail the inward and outward movement of international passengers since February, 2020

The government has now decided to make a graded relaxation in visa and travel restrictions for more categories of foreign nationals and Indian nationals who wish to enter or leave India

Under this graded relaxation, the government has decided to restore with immediate effect all existing visas, except electronic visa, tourist visa and medical visa, the statement said

If the validity of such visas has expired, fresh visas of appropriate categories can be obtained from Indian mission or post concerned

Foreign nationals intending to visit India for medical treatment can apply afresh for a medical visa, including for their medical attendants

Therefore, this decision will enable foreign nationals to come to India for various purposes such as business, conferences, employment, studies, research, medical purposes etc

The government has also decided to permit all OCI and PIO card holders and all other foreign nationals intending to visit India for any purpose, except on a tourist visa, to enter by air or water routes through authorised airports and seaport immigration check posts

This includes flights operated under ‘Vande Bharat’ mission, air transport bubble arrangements or by any non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation

All such travellers will, however, have to strictly adhere to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare regarding quarantine and other health/COVID-19 matters

While the restrictions on visas were imposed following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in February, commercial flight operations were suspended when the nationwide lockdown came into effect on March 25

However, the government has been allowing limited operations of Air India flights under the ‘Vande Bharat’ mission for certain categories OCI and PIO card holders and those Indians who were stuck due to COVID-19 outbreak since June.

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Business

Economy not circus lion that responds to ringmaster’s stick: Chidambaram

Chidambaram said the economy was largely determined by the market, by the laws of demand and supply, and by the purchasing power and the sentiments of the people, which are missing currently

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P Chidambaram

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday criticised the Centre for its claims on reviving the economy. He said the economy was largely determined by the market, by the laws of demand and supply, and by the purchasing power and the sentiments of the people, which are missing currently.

“Unless the government puts money in the hands of the bottom half of the families and puts food on the plates of the poor, the economy will not revive smartly,” he added.

The Congress leader said if the government doubted about what he say, then “just listen to the voices of the voters of Bihar on their existential crisis — no work or not enough work, no income or little income, and their thoughts are on surviving, not on spending.

He also said that RBI Governor, SEBI Chairman and the DEA Secretary should tell the FM, in unison, that the vast majority of the people do not have the money or the inclination to buy goods and services.

“Is it not intriguing that the RBI Governor, the SEBI Chairman and the DEA Secretary should speak on the same day on the same subject? All three have tried to ‘talk up’ the economy. I wish the economy was a circus lion that would respond to the stick of the ringmaster!” Chidambaram mocked.

The former Finance Minister was criticising the statements made by the RBI Governor and the Economic Affairs Secretary.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Wednesday that India is at the doorstep of a revival process from the ongoing pandemic.

Speaking at an event, he said that it is very important that the financial entities have adequate capital to support the growth. He noted that many of them have already raised capital while others are planning to do the same.

He said that after the pandemic is contained, the government will have to spell out a fiscal roadmap for the country.

Secretary, Economic Affairs, Tarun Bajaj on Wednesday said the Centre is open for further measures to boost the economy.

Participating at a CII event, he said that the government has received suggestions from various ministries and sectors on the needed measures.

Bajaj also said that while preparing the next Union Budget, the government would be looking at expenditure for this year and the requirements of various ministries.

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