Army to raise new battalions frm Sikkim, Arunachal

Last Updated: Monday, May 17, 2010 - 19:32

New Delhi: The Army is planning to raise new
battalions comprising youth from Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh,
states that have borders with China, on the lines of Ladakh
Scouts.

The new battalions would be posted in their respective
states.

The Army Commanders` Conference, which began its biannual
session here today, discussed the plans to raise these new
battalions in the two states bordering China, Army officers
said today.

"The idea is to have battalions comprising sons of the
soil from these two states. The battalions would be similar to
the Ladakh Scouts, which are normally posted only in the
Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir," they said.

On the prudence of having such battalions, officers said
the two primary reasons were: the local youth`s natural
acclimatisation to the region`s terrain, weather and
environment and that they would fight to defend their land to
the finish.

Asked how many battalions would be raised, they said
finer details of the new battalions would come out after the
Army commanders debated the issue threadbare.

Sikkim has a population of just 5.4 lakh as per 2001
census and according to government figures, 60 per cent of
them are below 24 years of age. Arunachal Pradesh has a
population of 10.9 lakh as per 2001 census and also boasts of
a high youth population.

India`s borders with China along Sikkim and Arunachal
Pradesh extends to 222 km and 1,540 km respectively. While
China claims 90,000 sq km of Arunachal Pradesh as its own, it
also claims a small tract of territory in Sikkim called the
`Finger Area` too.

While the border along Arunachal Pradesh remains
disputed, China officially recognised India`s sovereignty over
Sikkim during then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee`s visit
to Beijing in 2003.

The Army`s Ladakh Scouts were raised in 1963 following
the 1962 Sino-Indian war. The battalion was first used as
pioneers and during the Indo-Pak Kargil war in 1999 they were
accorded the status of full regiments of the Army. At present,
the Army has five Ladakh Scouts regiments.

Ladakh Scouts officer Major Sonam Wangchuk is the latest
recipient of the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), the second highest
wartime gallantry medal. Earlier Chewang Rinchen had won MVC
twice, first during the 1947-48 Indo-Pak war and again during
the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

The Ladakh Scouts served outside Ladakh only once in
2006-07 when one of their units was posted in Chandimandir,
the seat of the Army`s Western Command.

-PTI



First Published: Monday, May 17, 2010 - 19:32

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