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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh likely to visit Sikkim on Friday, will spend Dussehra with troops

Defence minister Rajnath Singh will visit Sikkim to celebrate the festival of Dussehra with the troops of Indian Army posted near the China border, according to officials familiar with the developments. The visit comes at a time when India and China are locked in border tensions in the sensitive Ladakh sector.

News agency ANI reported that Singh will visit Sikkim on October 23-24 and also inaugurate a number of road projects and strategic bridges built for easy movement of troops and common citizens to border areas.

The defence minister is also likely to do “shastra puja” with one of the local units deployed in Sikkim at the forward location near the China border. As per Hindu tradition, the puja is performed annually at the time of Dussehra by warriors.

The minister’s upcoming visit seeks to boost the morale of soldiers deployed in forward areas, the officials said.

Last year, Singh had performed the shastra puja in France while receiving India’s first Rafale fighter aircraft from there.

While the Ladakh sector has been the focus of the current round of border tensions with China, a tense confrontation between Indian and Chinese soldiers took place in north Sikkim in early May, just days after a brawl between rival troops on the northern bank of Pangong Tso.

A skirmish at Naku La in Sikkim left four Indian and seven Chinese soldiers injured on May 9.

The standoff, currently in its sixth month, has taken India-China ties to a new low, with troops even firing warning shots at friction points in August-September. This was the first instance of shots being fired along the Line of Actual Control since October 1975.

By Hindustan Times

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