Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen MM Naravane on Tuesday issued a warning to Pakistan and China. After Imran Khan's repeated statements making threats about nuclear war, the Lt Gen said that India is not scared of Pakistan's bogey. He also said that during the Doklam stand-off, China acted as a region bully. He added that no matter how China positions itself, Indian Forces are not pushovers and the Doklam incident proved that.
Lt Gen Naravane reacted to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's remarks on nuclear capabilities of the two neighbours in an address to the nation on Monday. "They can keep raising the nuclear bogey, we are not scared of that," the Army vice-chief designate said during an interaction on 'Defending our Borders' at the Bharat Chamber of Commerce here. Speaking on revoking of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Naravane said that Article 370 was removed as it outlived its utility. "It was an enabling provision, it has outlived its utility and so has been removed," he said.
The Army vice-chief designate also spoke about China and said that Indian Army are not pushovers and that it stood up to China when it was behaving like a regional bully. He said that if China transgressed the "grey zone" at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) 100 times, the Indian Army did so on 200 occasions. He claimed that Beijing acted like a "regional bully" during the Doklam stand-off. Naravane, currently the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command, said China must realise that the Indian Army is not what it was at the time of the Sino-Indian war in 1962. "The Doklam standoff gave a clear signal that the Indian Armed forces are no pushovers," he said.
Asked by former Air Chief Air Marshal Arup Raha, who is a member of the chamber's defence sub-committee, about the lessons from the 1962 conflict and measures taken after that to overcome the problems, Naravane said, "We are no longer the Army of 1962. If China says don't forget history, we also have to tell them the same thing." Claiming that India has come a long way from 1962, he said it was China which was caught unprepared during the 2017 Doklam standoff. "They thought that they would get away by being a regional bully... but we stood up to the bully," he said, asserting the Indian defence forces are capable of taking on any adversary.
He said there have been reports suggesting "some developments" at Doklam after the stand-off. "That (the reports) is also not totally incorrect. There have been developments on either side....which have been throughout the year, year on year. They have made two new barracks, we have also made two new barracks, they have maintained their roads, we have also maintained our roads."
Replying to a question by Raha that transgressions at the LAC by China have increased, Naravane said, "If we say that he (China) is coming into the grey zone 100 times, then we have gone in the grey zone 200 times. So, let us not think it is one-way. I am sure in their war room they are also complaining that we have done this so many times." The officer said that despite the transgressions, the armies of the two countries have mutually agreed not to raise each other's hackles as long as the red line is not breached.
Speaking about the 1962 war, the Eastern Army Commander said it was not a military but a political debacle for India as all army units fought well. "Where they (Indian Army units) were told to stand and fight, they acquitted themselves with great honour. "So, I do not see 1962 as a black mark on the Army at all and the armed forces... but we have learnt our lessons on what went wrong. And over the years we have been trying to bridge that capability gap.
When asked about an article published in a Chinese newspaper that the country would have to fight six wars by 2050, including one against India over Arunachal Pradesh, which it claims as its own territory, Naravane said, "It is quite a tall task they have set for themselves." He, however, said by 2049, the 100th year of the Communist Party of China, Beijing would "definitely want to achieve something". Naravane said China may try to achieve the goals mentioned in the article published by a semi-official think tank not through war but by "indirect means".