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China objects to J&K road project; India stops work
NEW DELHI, Nov 30:
Published on 30 Nov. 2009 11:24 PM IST
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In what seems to be another example of China showing its assertiveness, the Jammu and Kashmir government has stopped work on a strategic road project after the Chinese indicated their reservations over the same. The state government has confirmed that work was stopped on a road project under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in Demchok in south-east Leh in Ladakh, after the Chinese army objected. Chief minister Omar Abdullah confirmed reports that an 8-km road was being constructed under the NREGS to improve road connectivity and provide employment to local residents. Forming the eastern boundary of Ladakh, Demchok is the last inhabited area on the Line of Actual Control. “Demchok is right on border which is our last post. People of this village were building a road under the NREGS scheme. There is a nala (drain) coming down from the mountains. The western side of the nala is our territory and the eastern is the Tibetan border. On the other side (Chinese) have already built a road along this nala upstream. On our side villagers were building a road. They had completed 4 kms and suddenly the Chinese came from other side and stopped the work - so now the road is incomplete,” said Chering Dorjay, chief executive councilor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council. He added that the road was built because the local population had been demanding a link. “Yes, it is the same area and the Chinese Army were actually coming to our side in the recent past. They have built a road on their side and we had no objection but this road is well within our boundary,” Dorjee said. Lok Sabha member from the area Hassan Khan said villagers informed him about the construction work being stopped after the completion of nearly half of the sanctioned length. “We have a hot spring on our side where we have started a hydro-therapy centre. Villagers had been demanding a road ahead, all on our side,” he said. He said the Government of India had been informed about the development. Official sources said Leh deputy commissioner Ajit Kumar Sahu has visited the area and submitted a report to the government. China has used these aggressive tactics earlier as well. A few days ago National Remote Sensing agency released satellite images of a dam being built on the Chinese side of the Brahmaputra river. There is also the suspicion that China has provided the banned militant outfit ULFA, cover and small arms and weapons. In Washington recently the Prime Minister had stated on record that India had taken note of “assertiveness” by China which he did not fully understand. Commenting on the latest development Times Now strategic affairs analyst Mahroof Raza said this put to rest claims that media and certain elements in the establishment have been overplaying the Chinese threat. “This is ample proof. When the Chinese took up construction of a road on their side close to the LoC – I do not see why the Indian side did not take it up with Chinese authorities. The villagers have a right to make their lives more comfortable,” he said. Hassan Khan – an independent MP from Ladakh said he had been informed by locals about the road construction being halted and added that the villagers had asked the district administration and executive agencies to intervene. Government sources have told Times Now that though there is no likelihood at all of war between the two nations, considering China’s new assertiveness, India has to be prepared for all eventualities and this includes military ones. In this context, the sources said, steps towards a military buildup along the Indo-China border have already been taken.

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