Fist fights and stone-pelting along LAC could escalate tensions: Experts

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Published: May 11, 2020 3:29 PM

The two incidents of scuffle and stone-pelting will raise the temperature along the border areas and has a huge risk of escalation into more intense conflict.

The face-off between the two armies is common owing primarily to the absence of well-defined borders.The face-off between the two armies is common owing primarily to the absence of well-defined borders. (File image)

The reports of a stand-off between the forces of India and China remind one of the similar incidents in Doklam and in Ladakh sector in 2017. Fortunately, these issues have been resolved amicably with interventions from the higher authorities. Any escalation of conflict and tension would be disastrous for both the countries, opine experts. According to Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, JNU says, “Both India and China are struggling with the issue of the pandemic. The pandemic will have far-reaching security and economic implications for both the nations in the coming months and years. Under these circumstances, it is in their interest to avoid any misunderstanding which may arise out of such stand-off. The vested interests would benefit from such escalation while the poor citizens would suffer the most. The focus would divert to border security from the existing health security. Neither country should allow this to happen.”

The face-off between the two armies is common owing primarily to the absence of well-defined borders. “Many times, these encroachments are unintentional. But the chances of escalation of tension between the two armies remain very high owing to a high distrust and opacity of operations. Sharing of information between the two countries is key to avoiding such misunderstanding and tensions,” Prof Kumar suggests.

According to the JNU Professor, “If we may recall during the Doklam stand-off, the leaders of the two countries restored the status quo ante through back-channel diplomacy. Beijing and New Delhi have well-established mechanisms between security institutions to defuse any situation. Transparency, dialogue and information sharing on a regular basis are the instruments two sides can use to de-escalate any crisis.”

On the two incidents of fistfights on the India- China line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Laddakh and Sikkim areas in quick succession, Ranjit Kumar, Senior Journalist and China watcher, says “This must raise the heckles in Indian Security establishment”. “Till now the Chinese troops used to indulge only in physical scuffles, but Chinese seems to have raised the ante on the border areas. The reports of Chinese soldiers hitting Indian soldiers by nailed batons should be a cause of concern. It seems that the Chinese army intends to provoke the Indian soldiers to take more violent and aggressive retaliation, thereby giving them an excuse to escalate the situation,” says China watcher.

The two incidents of scuffle and stone-pelting will raise the temperature along the border areas and has a huge risk of escalation into more intense conflict.

“The Chinese army and the political leadership must direct its soldiers deployed along the Line Of actual Control to show restraint and respect the confidence-building measures agreed by the two sides from time to time. One can only hope that when India is fighting the corona pandemic, the Chinese side will not take advantage of the situation by its aggressive behaviour on the border areas,” Ranjit observes.

Concluding that “the two sides have invested lot of efforts in maintaining peace and tranquillity on the border areas and the gains must not be allowed to be frittered away.”

What has happened in Ladakh?

Fistfights and stone-pelting incidents in Ladakh and North Sikkim left several troops injured on both sides. As reported earlier the situation in Sikkim was resolved, and `official disengagement’ has taken place in Ladakh, where the incident had taken place near the northern banks of the 134-km Pangong Tso lake. Last year in September, a similar incident had taken place in the region, which was resolved.

Almost two-thirds of the lake, which extends from Tibet to Ladakh comes under Chinese control.

Post the fistfights and stone-pelting incident which happened on May 5, more troops have been stationed there, though there has been `official disengagement’ since May 6.

To deal with any kind of threat that might come out from either Pakistan or China, the Indian Army is in the process of “re-balancing” its deployment and strategy along the western, northern and north-eastern borders.

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