India tests nuclear-capable missile amid sticks and bricks border battle with China

The 5,400 km (3,300 mi) long-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile was launched on Thursday from eastern India.
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Reprsentational image: Agni-V test fired from canister on 10 December 2018.
Reprsentational image: Agni-V test fired from canister on 10 December 2018.

Wikipedia Commons/ Ministry of Defence India 

India has successfully test-fired a long-range nuclear-capable missile amid border tensions with China.

The 5,400 km (3,300 mi) long-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile was launched on Thursday from eastern India, according to the Indian ministry. 

"The Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile was fired on Thursday from Abdul Kalam Island in eastern Odisha state," said the Indian Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi.  

"The missile will add great value to the defense and strengthen national security to a greater extent."

Following confrontations on December 9 near a disputed border in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, tensions between India and China have increased, Al Jazeera reported on Thursday. 

Unverified sticks and bricks battle 

The same day that India fired its new missile, an unverified video showing Chinese and Indian troopers fighting hand-to-hand went viral. 

The video shows a rare glimpse into the long-simmering territorial tensions between the two Asian powers along their disputed Himalayan boundary, a CNN news report documented.

In what appears to be a previously unreported violent clash, the video is claimed to have been shot on September 28, 2021, near the Line of Actual Control, the de facto frontier between the two nations, in the hilly Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, according to a serving Indian military officer with knowledge of the border battles between China and India.

The footage reveals soldiers from both nations on steep terrain, surrounded by verdant hills that don't appear to have experienced winter, which CNN couldn't independently verify.

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Despite being separated by barbed wire, the footage shows "Indian troops beating the Chinese soldiers with makeshift weapons" like what appear to be wooden sticks and metal pipes. 

Indian soldiers have been observed throwing bricks and stones in multiple cases, said the report. 

"It's an illustration of how quickly things can go south if tensions are not reduced between the two sides," Sushant Singh, a senior fellow at the Center for Policy Research, an Indian think tank, told CNN.

Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile

India tests nuclear-capable missile amid sticks and bricks border battle with China
Agni-V is a nuclear capable intercontinental ballistic missile.

Nearly all of Asia, including the farthest north of China, as well as some areas of Europe, are within the striking range of Agni V, claims local media. 

This missile was created in cooperation with India's Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Bharat Dynamics Limited. Online data indicates that it has a length of 17.5 meters, a diameter of two meters, and a weight of 50,000 kg.

Agni-5 missile can allegedly carry a nuclear payload weighing 1500 kg. It features three stages for the rocket boosters and purportedly travels at a speed of 24 times the speed of sound. The missile has a top speed of 8.16 km per second.

The older versions of the missiles, which have already been deployed, have ranged between 700 km and 3,500 km.

This was the second user test conducted by India's Strategic Forces Command since it was established in 2018, defense expert Rahul Bedi told Al Jazeera. In 2021, the first test was conducted.

"Indian authorities did not take cognizance of the reported presence of a Chinese spy ship in the region and went ahead with the test," he said. 

The Line of Actual Control, a demarcation line that divides areas under Chinese and Indian control from Ladakh in the west to the easternmost state of India, Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in entirety, has been the source of a constant war between the two nuclear powers for decades.

And the recent skirmishes have only flamed the fire.