Home arrow Archives arrow Defence Notes arrow Defence Notes 2013 arrow hinese Incursions:CONUNDRUM FOR UPA GOVT, By Col (Dr) PK Vasudeva (Retd), 10 Sept, 2013
News and Features
INFA Digest
Parliament Spotlight
Journalism Awards
hinese Incursions:CONUNDRUM FOR UPA GOVT, By Col (Dr) PK Vasudeva (Retd), 10 Sept, 2013 Print E-mail

Defence Notes

New Delhi, 10 September 2013

Chinese Incursions


By Col (Dr) PK Vasudeva (Retd)


Notwithstanding denials, the Government in its own timid way does concede its concern over reported incursions by the Chinese. Further, it seems to do so by initiating extra special care for development of areas along the border. The above can well be gauged by the latest incident which had hit the headlines. 

Last week saw Defence Minister A K Antony making a statement in Parliament denying reports appearing in a section of the media which stated that the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) chairperson Shyam Saran had apprised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the ground situation—i.e. the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops were not allowing their Indian counterparts to patrol the Indian perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

It was said that Saran has indicated that the “limits of patrol” line has become the new LAC for India in certain areas of Ladakh sector. The Chinese have therefore usurped 640 sq km Indian territory! Saran, however, also denied such an assessment. But it cannot be denied that the PM had asked him to visit the eastern Ladakh and Siachen sectors to review the border infrastructure development and LAC situation. Recall that Saran had conducted a similar exercise in May 2007, and had reported a grim scenario of Chinese transgressions in the Daulet Beg Oldi (DBO) sector, Depsang Bulge and Chumar.

Following the report, an inter-ministerial committee has been set up to monitor the LAC situation and the existing empowered committee on border infrastructure development, led by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, has been asked to remove the bureaucratic bottlenecks in Ladakh.

The Indian perception of the LAC, as marked by the China Study Group (CSG) in 1976 on the basis of the 1962 war positions, vastly varies from the Chinese one on at least 12 pockets from DBO to Chumar.

However, the CSG — which comprises the foreign, home and defence secretaries, the Army Vice-Chief and two Intelligence chiefs — defined the “limits of patrolling” for the Indian Army to maintain border peace. The patrol line is between New Delhi and Beijing’s LAC perceptions and 2-20 km short of the Indian line.

It has been reported that the Chinese have built a motorable kutcha road to a sensitive Track Junction area in the DBO sector, thus changing the position on ground and in violation of the 2005 protocol. This apart, the NSAB chief and former Northern Army Commander Lt Gen PC Bharadwaj also surveyed Pangong Tso, a saltwater lake through which runs the LAC. They found a beefed up PLA firmly entrenched in their position in the Srijap area.  The Government is also concerned with the situation in Chumar where the PLA is making frequent transgressions, claiming 85 sq km of Indian Territory despite the international border defining the two countries.

Defence Minister Antony has as usual categorically stated in Parliament that there was no question of ceding land to China and New Delhi was negotiating with Beijing to set up a more effective mechanism to settle the border issue. “The Government keeps a constant watch on all developments having a bearing on India’s security and takes all measures to safeguard it,” he asserted. At the same time, he admitted to face-offs between the two armies along the border saying the Chinese feared India was strengthening its capabilities to match theirs. However, he assured the members that the Government would continue to strengthen India’s capabilities in border areas “to protect our national interest.”


He made it clear that there would be no compromise on strengthening capabilities along the border since China had built up its potential. India was catching up despite the delayed start. While strengthening capabilities along the border and diplomatically engaging China for a negotiated settlement, the objective was to maintain peace and harmony along the borders.


On Saran’s report, Antony said it dealt with requirement of air facilities in the Ladakh region along with matters relating to land acquisition and environmental and wildlife clearances. “Matters such as employment opportunities to local youth, tourism, mobile and Internet connectivity, law and order, better equipment and facilities for the ITBP, certain grievances of local people, among others have been covered in the report,’’ he insisted. But the Opposition was not impressed and accused the UPA government’s weak defence policy towards China and stressed it should act tough in the face of such incursions.


Importantly, Saran and Gen Bhardwaj have not discovered anything that hasn’t been known since the 90's. There was no need of fact-finding teams by the Prime Minister as the Army has been reporting incursions regularly on day-to-day basis. 


The fact is that the Army was not permitted to patrol up to the Indian version of the LAC. It had been an agreed understanding between the two sides post 1962. Patrolling by the Army therefore is carried out only up to a line as specified by

the Ministries of Defence, Home and External affairs. Similarly, Chinese patrols are from their Border Guards Regiment, the difference being that unlike the ITBP, these units are a part of the PLA and manned by regular soldiers, not policemen. 


The patrolling line is 15-20 km short of the Indian version of the LAC. It is not known if the ITBP carries out patrolling on that part, as they did in early 90s when the Army had much more say in such matters. The ITBP has got to be under the operational command of the Army like the Chinese Guards for obvious reasons.


As a result, willy-nilly, the Chinese have spread themselves and gradually over the years; the patrolling line has come to be viewed as the LAC. Even many of the local Army and ITBP officials are not aware of this slow, subtle encroachment over Indian’s lands - and notably also mind set.


At the apex policy making level this fact is not only known, but that the Government seems to have resigned the matter to its fate.  It is treated as unmentionable, basically to prevent public consternation. Keeping the Army away from controlling the LAC facilitates the public obfuscation. 


Having placed itself in a weak position two decades back due to circumstances prevailing, this Government does not have the gumption to remedy the situation by gradually extending the patrol line to conform to the LAC, as the local military commanders had recommended it. 


What however, is intriguing is that how can the PLA 'prevent' or 'not allow' Indians to patrol up to the LAC. Have they fenced off the line or do they form a human chain to block the movement of Indian patrols across that otherwise open terrain? Obviously it is the Government's excuse to cover its past pusillanimity. There are many examples of its downright timidity, bordering on fear or may even be disinterest, when it comes to maintaining its claim lines whether in Ladakh, or in UP-Tibet Border, or in Himachal Pradesh. One is not suggesting getting into a fight, but a show of physical and diplomatic resolve would serve the purpose. One wonders as to how the nation’s leaders, men of impeccable credentials, could be so naïve! ---INFA


(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)




< Previous   Next >
  Mambo powered by Best-IT