India-China Border Tension: No chest-thumping on disengagement, urge experts

By: |
July 6, 2020 6:06 PM

As has been pointed out in numerous briefings after the two sides have engaged militarily, the process of disengagement is likely to be arduous, time consuming and long drawn with both sides resorting to verification of ground positions after disengagement.

 

the process of disengagement is likely to be arduous, time consuming and long drawn with both sides resorting to verification of ground positions after disengagement.

The reports of Chinese troops moving back in Galwan area is certainly a very positive signal. “The construction of road and other infrastructure at the border area is the main cause of standoff between the two armies. While pulling back of the troops is the first step to avoid any unwanted clash, two countries need to resolve the broader issue of difference of perception on Line of Actual Control urgently,” experts opine. Though there have been twenty-two rounds of talk without any favourable outcome, the two countries need to come up with some fresh ideas for a lasting solution.

“However, such movements are required all over the hotspots in Eastern Ladakh. Withdrawal at Galwan is extremely important because battalions on both sides have suffered casualties. The agitated mood would persist for long. The separation between them is most desirable. Apparently, both sides have moved back from PP 14 area, the site of the clash which left over 50 dead on both sides. PP15 and PP 17A in the Hot Springs area should also witness some rearward movements, shortly,” says Brig SK Chatterji (retd).

According to Brig Chatterji, “At Galwan, reports indicate movement of vehicles on the Chinese side to possibly ferry back their heavy loads. The two armies have worked a system of verification of the implementation of agreed rearward movements, and this is surely being put into place to ensure compliance by both parties.

Brig Chatterji states, “Chinese presence continues at Y Junction in Depsang, approximately 30 km South of DBO, where we have created a landing facility for large transport aircraft. The Chinese presence is well into our territory by our perception of the Line of Actual Control. However, the Chinese perception runs further inside our territory by about 5 km. The Chinese have been patrolling up to their current patrol location in the past, too. However, their patrols had returned after a period of stay in the area.”

It’s the area of Pangong So and more so, Fingers that should be of greater concern to us. “There is no report as yet of the Chinese having withdrawn from the area of Finger 4 to Finger 8. This is an area that both sides have patrolled in the past. As of now, our patrols are not being allowed to go beyond Finger 4. Even at Finger 4, the Chinese withdrawal has been partial so far,” Brig Chatterji states.

“Notwithstanding the current deployments along the LAC, it would be prudent to continuously update our intelligence picture of Chinese formations in depth. These formations have not yet moved back to their peace locations, but remain poised for application along the LAC. The Chinese build-up in the Central and Eastern sectors also needs continuous surveillance,” he observes.

Welcoming the reports about Chinese troops pulling back, Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, JNU, says “The report of Chinese troops pulling back from the site of Galwan Valley is a positive outcome of several rounds of talks which have taken place between the two armies after the clash. The two armies seem to have agreed on creating a buffer zone to avoid any untoward incident. This is the first step in the direction of de-escalation which is going to be a long and arduous process.”

“It is not clear whether Chinese troops agreed to withdraw from Finger 4 to Finger 8 area. The Indian army was stopped from patrolling beyond Finger 4 by the Chinese army. This was one of the main contentions between the two armies. A lasting agreement would require disengagement at several hot spots in Ladakh,” Prof Rajan says.

According to Brig NK Bhatia (retd), “The news about Chinese and Indian sides disengaging from their positions along Line of Actual Control is not an occasion for chest-thumping or to gloat about. If true, then it is indeed a positive development and a step back from brinkmanship. It shows that from here after sanity should prevail after much unnecessary bloodshed has been shed for reasons that are as yet unclear.”

As has been pointed out in numerous briefings after the two sides have engaged militarily, the process of disengagement is likely to be arduous, time consuming and long drawn with both sides resorting to verification of ground positions after disengagement.

“On the positive side it reflects India’s maturity and an ability to withstand the pressures after it was taken totally by surprise from the Chinese actions of moving forward and occupying contested areas opposite Ladakh region.

The Chinese agreeing to disengage could be due to a realisation that continued standoff is not in the interest of either side. Global condemnation and increasing tensions in South China Sea and Pacific region may have also forced the Chinese to rethink their options of remaining in a continued standoff on the Himalayan heights. But these are mere conjunctures and would need deep analysis,” Brig Bhatia observes.

In his opinion, “On our domestic front, post disengagement, much introspection would need to be carried out by multiple government agencies to pinpoint the reasons for the current impasse and a re-look at our border management and need for security apparatus not to fall in a similar situation in future.”

“There is a need to exercise utmost caution. Any chest-thumping or comments relating to the disengagement process should come with a sense of responsibility and not to arouse jingoistic passions,” Brig Bhatia urges.

China-Bhutan

According to Prof Rajan, “There are new reports of China putting pressure on Bhutan for negotiation of its borders. Such issues will keep cropping up intermittently unless a lasting political solution is reached on border demarcation between India and China.”

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