Global Times had reported that a People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldier had gone missing a week back. Indian Army reported the other day that it had caught a PLA soldier near Demchok-Chumar area. He was reportedly carrying certain documents.
The details of the documents have not been revealed by India. Also, as learnt, he is an armourer, who repairs arms and equipment of PLA. He is like a technical soldier of the Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) branch of Indian Army.
He is a Corporal Wang Ya Ling. It seems he is fairly educated. He hails from Shangxizhen city of China. Question arises as to what was an armourer doing near/across the Line of Actual Control (LAC)?
A Lost Trooper or a Reconnoitre?
"It was surprising to find a technically qualified soldier loitering close to LAC. He should not be there unless he was on a mission to reconnoitre or seek asylum."
Demchok was a sensitive place, where adequate defences, obstacles and intelligence gathering facilities have been created by both India and China. It is not so easy for a Chinese soldier to stray across the LAC. He is a Corporal with adequate service in PLA. He is not a raw soldier.
More particularly, It was surprising to find a technically qualified soldier loitering close to LAC. He should not be there unless he was on a mission to reconnoitre or seek asylum, one is somehow not able to digest the theory of “straying”.
The carrying of military documents and maps on his body, indicates that he had “strayed” across with a purpose. There could be two possibilities i.e. either he was on some reconnaissance mission to find gaps in the defences or he had defected from PLA.
If he was on a reconnaissance mission, he might not be alone. There must have been a bigger group. Were they trying to find a gap in the Indian defences? Did he get separated accidentally or purposefully? But what was an armourer doing in a reconnaissance patrol? Is he telling a lie about his trade?
I am of the view that a sufficiently senior soldier with 15-18 years service, could not have strayed. His trade, if true, and service indicate something else. The documents in his possession, would show whether he was on reconnaissance mission or to seek asylum?
Straying or Defecting?
"One can speculate that an intelligent and educated soldier, who was deliberately defecting, must be carrying some useful documents to establish his credentials with his captors."
The other possibility is that Corporal Wang Ya Long had defected to India with sensitive documents. He might have intended to go out of the clutches of Communist regime. He is from the technical wing of PLA and he had no business being alone near the LAC. Was he possibly defecting?
One is not aware of the kind of documents he was carrying. But one can speculate that an intelligent and educated soldier, who was deliberately defecting, must be carrying some useful documents to establish his credentials with his captors. Another point to be verified is, if he had surrendered or he was apprehended by a patrol party. This would reveal his intentions.
My Questions on this Peculiar Development
My questions are: What if he was a defector or a deserter? Is India betraying this soldier? Could he have been used as an agent of more defection from PLA? Is India blundering in sending him back? Is he really a case of straying? He was caught with a lot of documents and sketches, thus is India missing an opportunity to launch a psychological war of frontline PLA soldiers?
As history tells us, India has always been a victim of its niceties and moralities. We Indians always think with our heart in our brains.
(Col. Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into 3 Bihar. He is a battle-hardened veteran of the ’71 War & has served extensively in various counter insurgency environments across the country.
He is a renowned author, and a highly respected defence & national security expert and a regular contributor at the 'Fauji India' magazine, ‘Defence and Security Alert’ (DSA), the ‘Indian Defence Review’ (IDR) among others. You can reach him on Twitter: @RajeeKushwaha, Email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')