The presence of the Chinese, including members of their defence forces, has been a matter of intense speculation here in India. But it's the first time an Army Chief has gone public with India's assessment about the kin of Chinese presence in PoK.
Earlier this year, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen KT Parnaik, while addressing a seminar in Jammu, had said that Chinese footprint in PoK was "increasing steadily" and its troops are "actually present" along the Line-of-Control.
"Chinese presence in Gilgit-Baltistan and the Northern Areas is increasing steadily... There are many people who are concerned about the fact that if there was to be hostility between us and Pakistan, what would be the complicity of Chinese. Not only they are in the neighbourhood but the fact that they are actually present and stationed along the LoC,'' Lt. Gen Parnaik had said in April this year.
The Army Chief was more specific." There are certain construction working teams, a large number is available. Around 3,000 to 4,000 of these people are present, including certain people for security purposes. There are certain engineers troops. Now (like) our own engineers are combat engineers. So, in some way they are part of the PLA,'' Gen Singh told newspersons here on Friday.
The Army Chief was responding to a query on the presence of Chinese Army troops in the PoK on the sidelines of the 16th Field Marshal KM Cariappa Memorial Lecture delivered by National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon. The statement comes against the backdrop of concerns in India about the presence and engagement of Chinese troops in PoK, which is considered integral part of Jammu and Kashmir.
IAF Chief NAK Browne had recently said in an interview that increasing presence of China in PoK warranted India's attention. New Delhi has already conveyed its concerns to China over the presence of its troops in PoK and its activities in that region.
Last year, there were reports of presence of about 11,000 Chinese troops in Jammu and Kashmir's Gilgit-Baltistan region held by Pakistan, but Beijing denied there was anything amiss.
Asked about the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Gen Singh said the terrorist infrastructure across the Line of Control was intact and a large number of militants are trying to infiltrate.
"The terror infrastructure (across the LoC) is intact. A concentration of large number of terrorists on the other side exists and they are trying to infiltrate. We are making sure that their efforts fail,'' the Army chief said.
Gen Singh said efforts are being made to step up infiltration from across the LoC, but the Army was alert and ready to face any threat.