New Delhi: India is beefing up security capacity in the “strategically important” Andaman and Nicobar Islands by building up assets and infrastructure there even as it monitors activities of Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean region, Navy chief Admiral R K Dhowan said.
Speaking ahead of the Navy Day, Navy chief Admiral R K Dhowan said that that the aim is to ensure that the islands are not only well protected but also act as a strategic location so that it can be used to base aircraft, ships and submarines.
“Andaman and Nicobar islands are very strategically located. They overlook the entire sea-lines of communication and choke lines in Indian Ocean region. And the proximity of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to Malacca Strait makes these islands strategically important to keep the choke points under surveillance ,” Dhowan said. Nearly 1,20,000 ships pass through the Indian Ocean and over 70,000 of them pass through the Malacca Strait.
Calling these islands as “very very important aspect” in a security location and acts as the extended arms of the country, Admiral Dhowan also said it was necessary to deploy ships, submarines and aircraft there so that we can carry out our surveillance in important sea lines of communication.
Dhowan said that Navy takes into account the Chinese development of Gwadar port of Pakistan and Beijing’s plan to set up a base in Djibouti while making its security and strategic policy. He said the PLA Navy has been deploying its ships in the Indian Ocean region since 2008 as part of its anti-piracy drive.
Asked about China’s concept of maritime ‘Silk Route’, Dhowan said India has its own policy to engage effectively with other navies in the region to create a favourable maritime environment around India.
He added that Indian monitors South China Sea in peace time like today and would also monitor and take a decision if there is an armed conflict.
Meanwhile asked about the three foundational agreements CISMOA, BECA and LSA that US wants India to sign for transfer of higher technology, Dhowan said it is being considered “seriously”. The US has been pushing these three for the last few years but the UPA had refused to sign them.
Amidst onging debate on religious intolerance in the country, Navy Chief Admiral R K Dhowan on Thursday asserted that his force was “totally secular” and every ship of the Indian Navy was a microcosm of India. Underlining that secularism starts from individual and the smallest unit, he said the Navy maintains the spirit of secularism. “I would like to talk about how it is in the Navy. Every ship of the Indian Navy is a microcosm of India, where we have personnel from every single state representing, including every religion as well.
“Therefore Navy is totally secular in nature and it starts from our individual and smallest unit. That trend and that feeling, and that spirit is maintained in the…” he said. He was replying to a question on whether the issue of radicalisation, abetted by religious intolerance, is fast becoming a national and global threat.