April 2013: 30 Chinese troops occupy a deserted Indian army outpost in Eastern Ladakh, 18 kms inside India, sets up tents and refuses to acknowledge that it has occupied Indian territory. Indian Foreign minister describes it as “"an incident adverse to our interests" even as he refuses to cancel a scheduled Peking trip, the Indian defense minister assures the Nation that the government will take “all necessary steps to preserve the integrity of the Nation” even as he orders the Army neither to take any offensive action to evict the intruders nor even attempt to cut off the supply lines of the Chinese Army platoon. Apparently the ITBP personnel sitting face to face with the Chinese, were expected to “sit tight and simply look pretty”. BJP normally quick to call for snapping all ties with Pakistan issued a weak statement calling for diplomacy, while everyone else looked the other way. Normally aggressive, PM-in waiting, Narender Modi was mum. Even though the print media carried extensive updates, the electronic media restricted itself to covering the story in three minutes reports. Ironically, at the same time an Indian military delegation is in Peking to plan joint Military exercises.
One wonders why there is so much difference in our reactions when faced with a similar situation on two different borders. Is it that our patriotism comes in play only when we deal with Pakistan or is it that we are too scared of China to do anything more than stutter a few words.
Dubbed as Kargil 2, on the night of 15th April, 2013 about 30 – 35 Chinese troops armed with QBZ 95 rifles, came into Indian territory in PLA’s all-terrain vehicles and set up a tent adjacent to a deserted Indian Army outpost, in the Daulat Beg Oldi Sector of Eastern Ladakh. Surprisingly for reasons best known to the Central Government, India had withdrawn its Army from the region last year and replaced them with ITBP, which is a police force reporting to the Home Minister in Delhi, rather than the Defense Minister. Once the tent was detected, India positioned 14 ITBP personnel along with 15 Army personnel 300 meters from the Chinese location but with strict instructions not to engage the Chinese. Inspite of Indian Army’s stepped up surveillance of the area and UAV s being apparently used to monitor the intruders, two Chinese helicopters intruded Indian Air space on 24th April, dropping food supplies and water, absolutely unchallenged. Did Indian Air defenses not detect the helicopters in time, which is very unlikely given the enhanced level of tension in the region or were our forces told to stay back by political leaders in Delhi, is something which demands an answer? Reports also suggest Chinese attempting to build a road from its nearest road head, which is 75 kms away, to the tent. Shamefully, there are reports that the Army has now been instructed NOT to block supply lines to the Chinese tents.
The effects of this incursion on the morale of people living in the region, the administrative machinery in the region, the police personnel and even the defense personnel is bound to be immense. A casual visit to the area in peaceful times is enough to make one realize the omnipresent fear of the Dragon in the area. Now that the PLA has actually intruded and captured a vast tract of land is bound to aggravate the sense of hopelessness.
Is it that we are still following the Nehurvian policy of not fighting for land “where not a blade of grass grows” or is it that we are too scared of the Chinese, even 50 years after the war? In Kargil we had the excuse of not knowing when the infiltration started, so it gave time to the enemy to entrench himself. Here we are purposely giving the Chinese time to entrench themselves.
As each day passes it will be more and more difficult to evict them, peacefully or otherwise. By accepting that this “situation” may prolong for months, we are virtually gifting Indian land to China. The Chinese knew our response and will keep harping on “peace and talks” while stubbornly refusing to budge, until we tire out and the Chinese tent becomes a PLA outpost.
It is still not too late. We must wake up and accept the seriousness of the situation. India must stop talking niceties, get other countries to press the Chinese and build up its amour in the region aggressively. The concept of “inviolable borders” must apply to the Northern borders as well. Any attempt to capture Indian land must be met with stiff resistance, irrespective of who the aggressor is.
Save Ladakh, Save India.
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