An article by Lt Gen PC Katoch titled 'The Crumbling State Of Denial' published on Jan 25, 2023 by 'News 4 Masses' (relating to the true state of affairs on ground about the LAC, the actual occupation of territories by Indian forces and PLA on either side of LAC and the claims made by the Governments of China and India related to this) has sparked off an interesting debate on this complex subject amongst well informed and knowledgeable veterans. Link of the article given below:
The responses of these veterans are published in the order in which MVI received them. Collectively these responses bring out several points from a historical and military angle and also advocate way out and forward for India and its armed forces. Hence, these responses are collectively food for thought for all concerned with this subject and its intricately related issues. The readers too have a lot to gain from the insights and perceptions of these veterans.
Responses From Veterans
Col Vijay Bhate
A good, hard hitting article. What ever he says is known to all but not accepted officially! Now that a police officer has put some issues on table can we hope some acceptance at correct levels? As and when new IT rules are, if retained in present words, I wonder if free discussion on such issues will be possible!?
Gp Capt Johnson Chacko
We have neither the capability nor the political will to retain our patrolling rights in un-demarcated areas. Is handing over border management back to ITBP an indication of poor capability of the Army? Does ITBP have better capability than the Army or are they better placed in proximity with the powers that be?
As long as the border is not defined, we cannot lose an inch of what is considered as our territory. Chinese keep shifting their claim lines and enforce it by denying us patrolling and grazing rights and we cannot do anything about it, if our mindset is of appeasement because we have $100 Bn as trade deficit or we have a weak military. Points to ponder.
Talks will be meaningful when the Chinese perceive that we are backed by a powerful military. Why did COAS refuse to have BSF under Army control? Is it because philosophies of policing is different from Army.
National Security is much more than physical security of territorial integrity.
Col PK Royal Mehrishi
I agree that to ensure compliance from any body, group, or a nation what is required is leverage. Do we have the political, economic or military heft to ask China to back down?
Brig Pradeep Sharma
Well known to all. The Government has been quiet on this and so has the Military hierarchy right from Late Gen Rawat onwards. In fact, all of them including the Northern Army Cdr Gen YK Joshi and the DGMO Gen Ranbir Singh have echoed the RM) PM.
Earlier I had mentioned that we are where we were in the '60s. Unfortunately, we are good at Demagogy and concealing facts to build an individual image but lack the strength required to actually challenge China both economically and militarily not to forget the strategic vision spelt out in Chinese White Papers.
Over the past 25 years they exploited the treaty of 'peace and tranquility' on the Indo-China border but kept us engaged via Pakistan. This period was used by them to:-
- Modernise their Armed Forces.
- Build infrastructure in TAR and other regions.
On our side we played politics! Even now none of the higher military leaders have the courage to speak up for the Armed Forces( the perception as of now amongst many). "God give me the strength to change what I can and wisdom to avoid what I cannot change or influence"
Col NN Bhatia
Politics, brink manship/one up manship are more important in our country than real governance and geo- strategic issues. When BSF was created for border management Gen Choudhary, then COAS refused to have it under army control and MHA became the big master. While peace time border management is primarily a policing job, national security is much beyond it. Similarly, in operations like 26/11, NSG is employed whose military element is commanded by army officers but DG NSG, who is competent senior police officer, is not expected to be expert in military tactics and handling of troops in combat. Police fires in air to tackle mob violence BUT for military it is one round one enemy. Like wise, the ITBP manning the Sino-Indian border must be placed under the operational control of the army. The Assam Rifles, trained like army, is the only PMF also needs to be fully under operational control of the army and not the MHA for enhancing its combat effectiveness. The Indian Navy (IN) rightly kept The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) which is to Indian Navy, what BSF is to Indian Army, under it's operational and administrative control. National security is much beyond policing the nation and our political, military, police and bureaucrats must understand this aspect.
Lt Col Yeshwant Umralkar
I believe the Indian psyche has to change vis-a-vis Communist China and the PLA’s shenanigans in Indo-Tibetan border region. It is a well known fact that Tibet was forcibly occupied by China in 1959. The fact of existence of a Tibetan government in exile in our land is proof.
Prior to that for all practical purposes what we now call Indo China border was the Indo Tibetan border. There is in fact no Indo China border. The Chinese know that they are in wrongful occupation of Tibet. We have been pusillanimous in not calling out China’s occupation of Tibet. So China has become bold enough to tinker with the LAC as and when the Chinese Communist Party Chief wants to score a point before the Politburo. The Chinese are actually practising the dictum 'offence is the best form of defence'. We cannot keep swallowing our pride forever.
For a start, we must stop referring to the border as Indo China border and instead call in Indo-COT (Chinese Occupied Tibet) border. If not in official text , at least the media can be promoted to adopt this term.
Second, let private media raise the Free Tibet slogan and publicise it adequately.
Third, Let the Chinese know that in case of any misadventure on the LAC, it stands to lose Tibet and West Turkestan. The idea is to make China aware of its nebulous claims over both these regions and that belligerence towards India can cost it these two regions which are otherwise worth nothing to China except they add to the geographical mass of that country.
Some visible signs of annoyance from India are also due. For one, if at the SCO Chinese show entire J&K as part of Pakistan and Arunachal as part of China, the delegation should have walked out in protest instead of swallowing this affront to our territorial integrity. Is China going to arbitrarily decide what belongs to India?
We are not only being bullied by a non-neighbour but we swallow insults from it on a regular basis. Instead of reducing our trade with the Chinese we seem to be eager to double it in double time. Most of what our businesses source from China can easily be sourced from Vietnam, Taiwan and may be Korea.
Finally, some day you have to stand up to the bully in the street. Earlier we do it the better or China which is a party dictatorship that conducts its policies without participation of its citizens can become even more belligerent in the future.
Col Rajinder Singh Kushwaha
My simple question to all experts and knowledgeable scholars of Sino-Indian border Conflict is:
On what basis we claim territory as ours on Tibetan (now Sino) - Indian LAC?
- McCartney - McDonald line of 1899 had abandoned Aksai - Chin and it ran from Lakstang pass along Lakstang Ridge to Karakoram.
- Maharaja of Kashmir had abandoned the Fort of Shahiullah by 1880 and China had taken over by 1890.
- When did we lose the territory between current LAC and McCartney - MacDonald line?
- We must note that Sino - Indian or Indo - Tibetan boundary was never defined and recognised by China and Tibet. 1914 Shimla Agreement never ratified Tibetan Govt!
5 . How do we lose territory when borders are undefined? Our Claim is not historically justified.
6. When NEHRU had accepted TIBET as Chinese territory — then what is our claim?
7. When Chou En Lai offered us NEFA for Aksai Chin as border settlement in 1960 why did we reject it? Do our scholars know that NEFA is South Tibet and we annexed it in Feb 1951? Why?
There is duplicity and dichotomy in our stand right from 1949 and we keep blaming others. Critics must educate themselves on history first and know how Major Bob Khathing of 5 Assam Rifles had reached Tawang with 200 men and annexed South Tibet. Also note that we did not reinforce Skardu Garrison held by Lt Col Sher Jung Thapa of J& K State Forces till April 1948. Why didn’t Nehru do it? And then he claims Aksai Chin - on what grounds?
(Views expressed are the respondent's own and do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)
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