NEW DELHI: In the shadow of the Doklam standoff, Indian intelligence agencies fear that China is likely to attack selected Andaman and Nicobar islands on the ancient sea trade route between China and west lands and areas close to China in Uttarakhand. Top sources say India has mobilised critical war machinery to a few islands in northern Andaman after a comprehensive security audit.
“The top-level meeting was held last week after intelligence inputs suggested that Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) may not launch a war from a place (Doklam) where tension has been building up. Reason: India is fully prepared and PLA could easily be defeated in the area. In case of war, China would also lose element of surprise.
It would use Doklam as a feint and most likely launch attack on uninhabited and partially populated islands in Andaman and some critical bordering areas in Uttarakhand,” sources privy to the meeting said, adding that China is likely to open another front to target Tehri dam, hardly 90 km from the border.
Close to India’s strategic locations, there are approximately 300 islands in Andaman and 16 in Nicobar that are uninhabited. Most of the islands on northern side have small population (some has just one village), thick forest and streams.
It is learnt that a top-level meeting held last week had discussed Viper, Cinque, John Lawrance Islands in Port Blair Tehsil and a few strategically located-unmanned islands in Ferrargunj Tehsil.
The meeting of top officials that had continued late in the night decided to activate a fleet of Poseidon surveillance aircraft in the region. They also discussed East Island that has only one village and is located far from Port Blair as well as Land Fall, Curlew and Stewart Islands, and a few other unmanned islands in Diglipur Tehsil of North Andaman.
“Chairman Mao era is passé and Chinese cannot afford to launch an all-out war against India. It would amount to biting more than they can chew. What we have discussed is possibility of Chinese opening limited fronts from Aksai Chin, Tawang, Andaman and Uttarakhand to keep us engaged. Attack on Siliguri corridor is ruled out. All the live fire exercises by T96 tanks are just a show to keep pressure on,” sources said.
A senior officer from the security establishment played down the threat arguing that Chinese are only testing our nerves. “There is nothing better than masterly inaction for de-escalation. The Chinese leadership is not keen on full-blown war,” he said.
Activist and lawyer Hang Tung Chow agreed. She said over the phone from Hong Kong that China is a bully, and it’s because of its leaders’ ambition and the nationalistic sentiments the party apparatus has fired up the Doklam issue. “The party has to show people that it’s not all words and no teeth. Especially when there’s unrest at home, the best strategy it can have is to direct the people’s attention outwards, against other countries as enemies,” Hang added.