Chinese aggression along the LAC (Line of Actual Control) in Ladakh has resulted in death of one Colonel and two jawans of the Indian Army, as per reports. The Chinese side also suffered casualties, as per an official Army statement.
The two Armies have been in a tense stand-off in the Galwan valley and Pangong Tso lake area of Eastern Ladakh for over a month now. Bharat’s build up of infrastructure along its side of the border, something criminally neglected for decades, has elicited aggressive Chinese response. In the current scenario, China has objected to Bharat laying a key road in the Finger area around the Pangong Tso Lake besides construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in the Galwan Valley.
In an official statement, the Army said, “During the de-escalation process underway in the Galwan Valley, a violent face-off took place yesterday (Monday) night with casualties on both sides. The loss of lives on the Indian side includes an officer and two soldiers.”
The statement added that senior military officials of the two sides are currently meeting at the venue to defuse the situation. Some analysts have claimed that significant numbers of Chinese troops have been camping in the Bharatiya side of the LAC in Galwan Valley since early May, but others have denied any permanent incursion by the Chinese.
China contests large chunks of the 3,488-km-long LAC – it claims the whole of Arunachal Pradesh as ‘South Tibet’ and a similar stand-off was reported in North Sikkim too on May 9.
The ‘salami-slicing’ approach adopted by China to try and nibble away at Bharat’s territory has sparked several such stand-offs in the last 2 decades. But as the status quo has been restored after every such incident, these confrontations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) can also be seen as a way of China asserting its hegemony and unsettling Bharat from time to time.
As Lt. Gen. Panag explains in this article, ‘intrusions’ are common (upto 400-500 per year) and involve both Armies doing routine patrolling upto their respective claim lines in areas of ‘differing perception’. The major stand-offs occur when China intrudes into these contested areas to establish temporary military posts. For eg., such stand-offs have occurred in Doklam 2017 (longest one which lasted 74 days), Depsang 2013, Chumar 2013, and Demchok and Chumar 2014.
Lt. Gen. Panag writes –
“All Indian prime ministers until May 2014 responded to Chinese aggression by following a policy of ‘strategic restraint’ — focusing on economic relations while putting the contentious boundary dispute on the back burner. A number of confidence-building measures were put in place through various border defence cooperation agreements (1993, 1996, 2005, 2012 and 2013) to this effect.
But things changed in 2014 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power. While he generally sustained this policy, Modi adopted a tougher stance with respect to border incidents. The seriousness of the Doklam crisis led Beijing to conclude that despite the economic and military asymmetry, India had the will and capability to stalemate China in a limited conflict below the nuclear threshold.”
Notwithstanding stand-offs, and the occasional pushing-shoving, even fisticuffs between patrols of the two Armies, the last time China and Bharat had an actual military confrontation was the Nathu La incident in 1967.
The death of 3 Bharatiya soldiers and as yet unknown number of Chinese casualties in Galwan valley signals a significant escalation in border tensions. It holds a clear message for Bharat – to accelerate its economic growth and military indigenization agenda, by ruthlessly dismantling the activist lobby and fifth columnists holding us back.
A showdown with the bullying Dragon was inevitable at some point. The usual suspects will try to drag us back to the days of “strategic restraint” – we need to ignore them and hold our nerve. Appeasement has never worked and never will with aggressive/fanatical neighbours like China & Pakistan.
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