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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Chinese incursion in Depsang valley - 19 kms in and 5th tent put up

Would people be so casual, if they were to part even a little bit of their ancestral property…… then, how the Nation and its political heads so insensitive when so much is happening in the border. Chinese soldiers who have infiltrated 19km into Indian territory in Ladakh, have erected a fifth tent in the area, screams today’s report in the Times of India. Along with the fifth tent in Depsang valley, Chinese troops have also erected a number of banners which read “You are in Chinese side”, the report adds.

But why, Times of India alone ? – should not the Nation be brooding and bleeding on this issue of National importance. How can this be termed as a localized affair and how would this get resolved without any action on the Nation’s part……. Is giving up and folding so easy !   Chinese soldiers, who have intruded as much as 19km into eastern Ladakh, have pitched one more tent near the faceoff site in Depsang Valley, taking to five the number of such structures erected after the incursion on April 15 and denting the government’s assessment that the standoff was a localized affair and would be resolved soon.  The Chinese intruders also ramped up the provocation by waving banners proclaiming the territory as their own. “You are in Chinese side,” screamed the banners, in what appeared to be tit-for-tat response against the Indian troops carrying out banner drills in the area to tell the Chinese troops that they had intruded into Indian territory.

Oblivious to all this, the External affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is set to visit Beijing. Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh led the attack on the UPA government in the Lok Sabha, slamming PM Manmohan Singh for leading the “most weak and cowardly” dispensation of independent India.  The biggest enemy from whom India faces a threat is China,” he added : Chinese incursion a well-planned exercise.  TOI further reports that the People’s Liberation Army troops, numbering over 30, have also been spotted using one light Humvee-like four-wheel vehicle, one sixwheel troop carrying vehicle and one heavy eight-wheel truck between the face-off site with Indian troops and their tents 500 metres to the east. They also have two snifferguard dogs suitable for the 16,300-feet altitude.

Some sheepishly say that  Chinese troops have not engaged in offensive manoeuvres; but is not the brazen incursion and staying put inside our sovereign territory matter of bigger concern ?  Can this be viewed as overzealousness of a local commander ~ and if be, why no action to rein in a “rogue” commander in the Chinese ranks. Indeed, the “deep’’ incursion increasingly looks like a “well-planned exercise’’, with the Chinese troops having adequate supplies for the long haul, that could not have taken place without the green signal right from the top in Beijing.

Should not the Nation be boiling at this brazen incursion ! why no echo in Parliament at all ??  CNN-IBN quoting sources states that  China is insistent that some bunkers constructed by India at a key vantage point be dismantled as a condition precedent for pull back.  ~ and at this juncture comes the statement of Indian PM that the tension is  “local issue” and would be resolved soon. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid too claimed that the tension will likely have been resolved even before he leaves for Beijing to prepare for Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s upcoming visit to India.” So no action, Govt is cautiously watching the developments……  so brazen is the Indian reaction that they don’t want force at any cost. Instead of political and military solution, they are perhaps waiting for a geographical solution……… months later when  cold sets in across Ladakh, China’s outpost will have to withdraw: there’s simply no way to survive the cold in temporary shelters; but by that time they could have taught us great lesson……… 

Firstpost reports that way back in Oct 1962, Chinese artillery pounded five Indian posts perched to the east of India’s northern-most military base, Daulat Beg Oldi.  Faced with impossible odds, the men held out for three days—and then, fought their way back along the track towards the base.  India’s XV corps knew those men were all that lay between the advancing Chinese troops and Leh. Major Sardul Singh Randhawa was ordered to lead the surviving troops of the 114 Brigade back across an iced-over river to the 5,411-metre Saser-La pass—where, armed with just 100 rifle rounds each and a handful of machine guns, they were to make a last stand. Then, something odd happened: the advancing Chinese forces drew up to the line that their country had claimed as its border in 1960, and stopped dead.  Ever since 1999, Chinese patrols have frequently probed land India claims as its own, leaving behind signs of their presence like juice-cans, cigarette packs and graffiti. Highly-placed military officials Firstpost spoke acknowledged Indian troops do the same, traversing routes east into Indian-claimed territory.  In the event patrols are confronted, troops put up banners proclaiming friendly intent—and back up.  The system has avoided loss of face—and deaths.

Large swathes of the Line of Actual Control are disputed—nothing but the Karakoram pass is accepted by both sides as a frontier.  There’s been plenty of disputation.  In 1955, China had begun constructing a road through the Aksai Chin, linking its garrisons to Xinjiang to Tibet.  So there have been disputes and no attempt to resolve them.  Looks pretty serious indeed.

As the government came under opposition attack on dealing with Chinese incursions, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said this was not the time for scoring points but for speaking in one voice. He said the government would do what is best in the national interest and people  should not blow anything out of proportion. BJP President Rajnath Singh said Khurshid should not visit China till it withdraws its army personnel from Depsang Valley in eastern Ladakh while party colleague Arun Jaitley said the prime minister’s remark gave an impression that the UPA government was treating the incursion as a “non-issue”. Evidently, the Indian Army has provided the political leadership with a range of options that are  open to it if the Chinese don’t fold up their tents and leave anytime soon. Presumably these options would involve cutting off the supply lines to these troops, which would put a cap on the  number of days they can hold out here. More extreme options – of forcibly evicting the 30-or-so Chinese troops –  would also have been considered, perhaps as part of a scenario-building exercise to draw up contingency plans.

So from ‘bhai-bhai’ to till date, China has made its intentions clear but the statesmanship of the Nation is not out to the fore at all.  Sad state of affairs indeed…..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
30th April 2013.
With inputs from and Times of India.

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