Amid Mounting Border Tension, Narendra Modi Visits Leh

In a surprise move, amid mounting tension on the India-China border, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, visited Leh in Ladakh on July 3 morning to review the ongoing conflict. He was accompanied by Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General M.M. Naravane, and the trio interacted with Army, Air Force and ITBP personnel.

Addressing the soldiers there, the Prime Minister said, “The age of expansionism is over; this is the age of development. History is a proof that expansionists have either lost or have been forced to turn back.” He added that bravery was a pre-requisite for peace and that those who were weak could never initiate peace.

Meanwhile, according to a report on July 2, India and China “agreed” to disengage forces in batches, while another report said that the Indian military was stepping up vigil along the Line of Control (LoC) as tensions was simmering along Line of Actual Control (LAC). Indications are that the Indian military is also keeping a strict vigil on the western front to deter Pakistan’s hostilities.

The Chinese forces attacked Indian soldiers on the night of June 15 killing 20 of them, including a colonel while Indian forces retaliated the fist fight killing about 47 Chinese forces, as negotiations to ease tension were going on simultaneously between the two neighboring countries. Tension between India and China on their border after June 15 killings is not only continuing but it also has been mounting and showing no signs of defusing. The situation has not eased even after two weeks have elapsed, while the third round of talks between Indian and Chinese Corps Commanders was held for 12 hours at Chushul in Ladakh on June 30.

As an instinct and by force of habit, China continues to break its own commitment, consolidating its forces on the Ladakh border. Whereas, with a view to strengthen its preparedness, India has started airlifting heavy military equipment and activating the border airbase. It looks China has been adopting a tactical course to provoke India by violating border so that its forces resort to arms fight, but India, which has been ready for any eventuality, however, has been exercising utmost restraint to defuse the situation.

Meanwhile, friendly countries like the US, the UK, France, Russia, Israel, Australia, Germany Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Taiwan have expressed their solidarity with India. France also has speeded up the process of delivery of its six powerful Rafale fighters to India by July-end. Japan and India have started joint naval exercises in the Indian Ocean.

Indian government officials say 21 more MiG-29 fighter jets are being bought from Russia, while 12 Sukhoi Su-30 MKI aircraft will be procured from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. The government has also approved a separate proposal to upgrade existing 59 MiG-29 aircraft.

With a view to subduing economic dominance by China, India has called for boycott of Chinese goods. India also has banned 59 Chinese Apps calling them to be prejudicial to sovereignty, integrity and security of India. It is heartening to observe that the response of the Indian population to both boycott and ban has been overwhelming.

At the latest and third Corps Commander-level talks held between India’s 14 Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Harinder Singh and Chinese South Xinjiang Military Region Commander Maj. Gen. Liue Lin, on June 30, India insisted on China to restore status quo at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as it was in April 2020.

Further, India objected to the attempts of China to change the LAC at Pangong Tso and Galwan Valley, by moving in more of its troops, heavy weapons and constructing fortifications. India told China to take steps to build trust between the two countries by starting disengagement along the stand-off points of LAC. India also sought from China verifiable steps to de-escalate the situation and disengage its soldiers from Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Hot Springs-Gorgra Post, Depsang and the Daulat Beg Oldi Sector.

The earlier two Crops Commander-level meetings were held in Moldo on the Chinese side, while the latest and third one was held in the Indian side at Chushul in Ladakh to de-escalate tension between India and China.

Though at the 11-hour-long second Corps Commander-level meeting on June 22 both sides agreed to disengage troops all along the friction areas in Ladakh, there has been no improvement. Instead, China has started mobilization of more troops along the LAC, forcing India to reciprocate with equal measure in defense.

At the first Crops Commander-level meeting on June 6, the two sides had agreed to disengage their troops at multiple locations, as India had asked the Chinese to return to their pre-May 4 military positions along the LAC.

The talks between the Indian and Chinese military delegates continued for about 11 hours on June 22. The dialogue was stated to have been held in a “cordial, positive and constructive” atmosphere and there was “mutual consensus to disengage.”

Subsequently, the Indian Army said: “Modalities for disengagement from all friction areas in eastern Ladakh were also discussed.”

The meeting between 14 Corps Commander Lieutenant General Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin happened on the lines of the one they held at the Chushul-Moldo border personnel meeting (BPM) point in eastern Ladakh on June 6.

A Major General-level dialogue also took place for three consecutive days after the violent clash (that left 20 Indian soldiers dead) at Patrolling Point 14 in Galwan Valley on June 15. The three-day talks were carried out to ease the situation and to get 10 Indian soldiers released, including four officers, who were in Chinese captivity.

While China is still playing “war-like games” and India is trying to push the Chinese forces back to their original positions, the Opposition Congress Party and its top leaders have been conclusively accusing the government of giving away Indian territory to China after the June 15 incident, and blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for hiding facts to the nation. Speaking at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi accused the Prime Minister of misleading the country on the facts about the situation along the LAC after the fierce clash. She accused the Narendra Modi-led government of mismanaging the border and pandemic crisis in the country. She alleged that it was all due to the wrong policies of the Center.

Ever since the violent face-off took place between the Indian and the Chinese armies former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has been taking jibes at the Center with a subtle comment that Indian land has been occupied by the Chinese. Posting a picture of the Pangong Tso lake where the stand-off with China began last month, Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “We stand united against the Chinese invasion. Has China occupied Indian land?”

Similarly, Congress leader and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has been silent for six long years after demitting office, has suddenly lashed out at Narendra Modi on the India-China stand-off, the state of country’s economy, and management of the Covid-19 crisis. Manmohan Singh also hit out at the Modi government for the country’s Covid-19 testing rate, saying: “India can’t conquer Covid-19 without aggressive testing.”

Furthermore, Kapil Sibal, P. Chidambaram and others accused the Modi government to have “mishandled the India-China border stand-off.” But strangely, none of them has criticized or said a word against China for its excesses against India or for its territorial ambitions in violating the borders.

– Contributed by Mr. J.V. Laskshmana Rao, a former National News Coordinator of Express News Service, New Delhi, and former Chief Editor of US-based India Tribune. He frequently travels between India and the US.

Picture Credits: PTI Photo

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