The military exercise will be based on counter-terrorism and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations

NEW DELHI: Continuing to expand military to military engagements, India and China will be carrying out a major military exercise called ‘Hand-in-Hand’ in Meghalaya this year.

The planning conference for the exercise will be held next month. The exercise will take place at Umroi, Meghalaya. It is at the company level, meaning around 100-120 infantry troops from both sides will be participating. It will be based on counter-terrorism and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

“The joint exercise with China called ‘Hand-in-Hand’ will be held in December. It will be held at Umroi and will be at the company level,” said an official.

The exercise was previously held in December last year at Chengdu, China. Company size contingents of the Indian Army’s 11 SIKHLI and a regiment from Tibetan Military District of the People’s Liberation Army participated in the exercise.

The exercise didn’t take place in 2017 due to the 72-days long standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Doklam. The standoff brought a drastic change in ties between the two countries, which later normalised following the disengagement of the standoff in August last year. While the strength of either side in Doklam has reduced, the army is continuously monitoring Chinese activities in the area.

The exercise aims to build close relations between the armies of the two countries. It comes in the backdrop of situation along the Line of Actual Control, which has so far remained peaceful. The number of transgressions this year also considerably reduced as compared to last year, according to the defence ministry in its annual report 2018-19. The percentage of face-offs during these transgressions also reduced this year. Post the Wuhan summit in April 2018, there has been an increase in the number of flag meetings.

The ministry also said that 2018-19 witnessed renewed momentum in defence and military to military exchanges between the two sides. The visit of the Chinese defence minister to India in August last year and the Defence Secretary level Annual Defence and Security Dialogue in Beijing in November laid the ground for continued bilateral engagements and exchanges in defence.