New Delhi: Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Tuesday dismissed China’s objection to Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, saying the defence minister goes to areas across India where troops are deployed.
Rawat said the defence minister meets soldiers to understand various issues and such trips are always a source of motivation for the armed forces.
China had yesterday objected to Sitharaman’s first visit to Arunachal Pradesh on Saturday and Sunday, saying her tour of the “disputed area” was not conducive to peace in the region.
“Defence Minister visits troops in forward areas to meet them in person, to understand various issues which might be engulfing them. I think visits by the defence minister are always a source of motivation,” Rawat said on the sidelines of an event here.
He said the defence minister visits areas where Indian troops are deployed. “After all it is the ministry of defence which is providing support to us,” he said.
Sitharaman on Sunday visited forward army posts in the remote Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh bordering China to take stock of defence preparedness.
“As to Indian Defence Minister visit to Arunachal Pradesh, you must be very clear about China’s position,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing yesterday.
“There is a dispute on the eastern section of the China- India boundary. So this visit by the Indian side to the disputed area is not conducive to the peace and tranquility of the relevant region,” she said in a response to a question.
China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet and routinely objects to top Indian officials’ visit to the area.
On the reported killing of a nephew of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar during an encounter in Pulwama in Kashmir last night, the Army chief said the aim of the forces was to contain “terrorism”.
“It doesn’t matter if he is Masood Azhar’s nephew or anyone else,” he said adding the aim of the forces was to neutralise militants irrespective of where they came from.
Asked about the recovery of an M4 rifle during the encounter, Gen Rawat said it made it clear that militants were getting support from across the border.