A day after China raised objection to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said on Tuesday the visit was a “source of motivation” and aimed at understanding issues related to soldiers deployed in forward areas. “Defence Minister visits troops in forward areas to meet them in person, to understand their various issues that may be engulfing them, and I think visits by Raksha Mantri are always a source of motivation,” the Army Chief said in response to a question on China’s objection. “Raksha Mantri has to visit those areas where our troops are deployed. After all it is the Ministry of Defence which is providing support to us,” he said on the sidelines of a function here.
China had on Monday reacted angrily to the Indian Defence Minister’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, saying the visit to the “disputed” region will not be conducive to peace on the border. China maintains that Arunachal Pradesh is a part of South Tibet, a claim which is not accepted by India. On Sunday, Sitharaman visited a forward army post in Arunachal Pradesh and an Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Assam to take stock of the defence preparedness and the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). During the visit to the forward army post of Kibithu, she was briefed on the situation and defence preparedness along the LAC. She also interacted with troops and appreciated their dedication to the service in such remote and inhospitable terrain, a Defence Ministry release said. Sitharaman later visited Chabua air base, where she took stock of the operational preparedness and infrastructure development at the base.