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Indo-China border engagement

It takes India a few of its Indo Tibetan Border Policemen (ITBP) to be shot at and injured by Chinese troops to momentarily sit up and take notice of the repeated Chinese incursions that have been happening across the Indo-China border! But still, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is playing footsie and denying these reports categorically saying that no such incidents have taken place! “A media report about two ITBP jawans having been injured due to firing from across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has come to notice. The report is factually incorrect,” were the strong and emphatic words of External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash. However, the headquarters of the ITBP has neither denied nor confirmed the report.

The alleged incident came to light when a certain newspaper reported that personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police were injured when Chinese troops had fired at them in Kerang in northern Sikkim a few days ago. The newspaper further reported that following the shootout in Kerang, border personnel held an emergency meeting on August 30. The newspaper confirmed the firing incident citing a top intelligence source, who spoke in condition of anonymity.

General Deepak Kapoor, India’s Army Chief, brought to light a series of air incursions by the Chinese about a month ago, while the Indian government down played the incidents citing them as ‘routine and harmless.’ One would recall a series of further incursions a few days ago with Chinese soldiers having left red painted rock memorabilia for their Indian counterparts – in Indian soil!

Although the Indian government has further downplayed this incident, much like what it did previously, a number of people within and outside the establishment believe them to be true, unlike the responses from the establishment itself! That the government chooses to respond differently is a question left better best answerable to by the officials of the Ministry of External Affairs, who routinely downplay such incidents so as to remain in the good equations with the Chinese and not antagonize them!

If the report is correct, which in all probability it is, it will be the first incident of firing along the Indo-China border since the 1996 bilateral agreement which seeks either nation not to engage in opening fire, no matter what the provocation is, primarily aimed as a part of confidence-building measures.

Repeated border violations and now incidents of opening fire indicate a brazen and even more aggressive Chinese army backed by its government reiterating its policy of inch-by-inch take-over of the Indian Territory it lays claim to! Large parts of the Indo-China border are unattended and remain unguarded throughout the year, prompting easier access to the violator and also making monitoring and reporting difficult for the Indians. However, what is appalling is the Indian government’s lukewarm and lackadaisical response, contributing more fodder and will power to an already aggressive and violent band of Chinese, who know no pleasantries of peaceful co-existence!

China has, as is usual practice, officially denied any violation of the Indo-China border or the Line of Actual Control. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing has denied all reports of Chinese airspace violations and incursions in border areas. A team of Chinese officials have also met Indian media representatives based in Beijing in an attempt to convey a message, that India is China’s partner and not a rival – something that is more of a farce than fact!

Sun Weidong who is deputy director-general of the ministry’s Asian department, in a statement said that “China does not pose any threat to India. For us, the biggest task is to develop ourselves so that 1.3 billion people can lead a good life. I don’t think it’s logical to say that when a country grows strong it will bully others.” But this is far from true, given the aggressive policy that China follows in laying claim to portions of Indian Territory that it regards to be part of its sovereign!

New Delhi’s responses and reasons behind them are better best not discussed! The MEA and the political brass, in conjunction, it seems are more worried about cozying up to the Chinese, something which is ominously similar to the stand that Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s former Prime Minister, maintained in the run up to the Indo-China debacle in 1962. It is surprising that no lessons have still been learnt over a period spanning 47 years! Just when one thinks that there could be some measure to address this repeated misadventure, the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statements while addressing a conference of state Director Generals of Police in New Delhi comes as a dampener!

His woes that “Infiltration across the Line of Control and other places like Nepal, Bangladesh and the sea has been going up” simply do not reflect the current state of affairs and appears well doctored in order to omit Chinese references. Such a partisan type stand echoes our inability, lack of will and seriousness over the issue, which is precisely being taken as a soft spot to further such incidents, that will only increase in the coming days!

So much for partnership and cooperation!

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  1. September 15, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Official reports and government figures have always been afar from the factual occurrences. I condemn China’s aggressive moves towards Indian borders. The same illicit strategy is being adopted by Pakistan. They make their dirty presence felt each time and at regular intervals. I call it dirty politics.

  2. September 22, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Neeraj

    Yes, one cannot count on the official figures released by the government since they are a fraction of the truth! As you said, this is all about dirty and aggressive politics which need to be handled firmly!

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