Millennium Post

Flagging it: Is Indian army toning down Chinese heat?

Unlike in the last few days, on Thursday Indian Army appeared to have settled down to the line of managing the Chinese incursion at the ‘tactical’ level. Though this has created a situation of a ‘face to face’ confrontation between the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on the one side, and the former’s Ladakh Scouts and Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), on the other, a senior army source seemed to ’talk down’ the tension that has naturally built up.

However, the senior official did not respond to queries about a third flag meeting between the two sides that was being speculated at the official and media circles.

The army officer stated that the group of the Indian armed forces officers, who have been in Beijing for the last few days, to decide on the modalities of ‘hand-in-hand’ exercise between the two countries forces are not being withdrawn. The army is leaving most of the larger, strategic decision-making to the government and the political masters.

‘It has to be tackled at the diplomatic level, unless of the Chinese side decides to escalate the tension,’ a retired major general, Afsir Karim, who had served in the Aksai Chin area where Daulat Beg Oldi is located, in Ladakh, told this correspondent, ‘If the Chinese seek to increase the numbers of its forces in the area, the Indian Army will have no problem in throwing them out.’

Another retired brigadier, Arun Sahgal said that in the area under the scanner, the army has positions on higher grounds, while having a wide vista of plain land across, thus providing them an open field of fire. But both Karim and Sahgal believe that the Chinese undertake these kinds of provocative action to essentially gain the attention of the opponent to a sensitive ‘proposal’ they have made or due to some change in the posture of the opposing forces in terms new fortifications etc.

Referring to the two Chinese helicopter sorties on the same day last week, Sahgal quoted a senior Northern Command official stating that when the Chinese make these kind chopper flights, the Indian side too undertake similar sorties with the same number of choppers.

Meanwhile, a loose timeline has emerged in terms of the tension. On 15 April, the Chinese forces were identified to have crossed, what the Indian side considers the Line of Actual Control (LAC) into Indian territory by about 15-18 kms. On 18 April, the first flag meeting took place and the Chinese Ambassador was called to the ministry of external affairs (MEA). The second flag meeting took place on 21 April.

There are estimates that this confrontation may continue for another fortnight after which the Chinese will blame the decision to cross the India-perceived LAC on a local commander and withdraw. By then, of course, Li Keqiang, the new Chinese premier will in all possibility be in New Delhi.

Incidentally, since Saturday, 21 April, the US chairman, joints chiefs of staff, General Martin Dempsey has been visiting Beijing. New Delhi, of course, has to walk on the path of  ‘strategic autonomy.’
Next Story
Share it