India spends US$553 million on guns for border troops six months after showdown with China

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 January, 2018, 2:35am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 January, 2018, 2:35am

India will buy more than 160,000 guns worth US$553 million for troops on its disputed, high-altitude borders, the defence ministry said Tuesday.

The defence acquisition council cleared the purchase of 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 carbines for 35 billion rupees (US$553 million, HK$4.3 billion) in a meeting chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The move comes around six months after it held a months-long stand-off with China at the border of Tibet, Bhutan and the Indian state of Sikkim.

The weapons will be bought to “enable the defence forces to meet their immediate requirement for the troops deployed on the borders,” the ministry said in a statement.

New Delhi has signed several big-ticket defence deals since Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed to power in 2014.

India – the world’s largest defence importer – has been investing tens of billions in updating its Soviet-era military hardware to counter long-standing territorial disputes with its nuclear-armed neighbours China and Pakistan.

As well as last year’s stand-off, India and China fought a brief war in 1962 over their border.

India is also mired in conflict in the Himalayan region of Kashmir where roughly 500,000 soldiers are deployed.

New Delhi accuses Islamabad of sending “terrorists” across the border – one of the most heavily militarised in the world – to fight security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British rule in 1947, with both claiming the territory in its entirety.

India has fought three wars against Pakistan, two of them over the control of Kashmir.