Prime Minister Modi has stated that twenty of our jawans were martyred but not before they taught a lesson to those who had dared to raise an eye towards “Bharat Mata”. Prime Minister assured the nation that our forces would spare no effort to protect India, as today we have the capability to ensure that no one can eye even an inch of our territory. He said that the infrastructure in the border areas had improved greatly leading to heightened patrolling and close monitoring of movements at the border. The armed forces had been given a free hand to take all necessary steps. Prime Minister Modi also stated that India would respond firmly to any attempts to transgress the Line of Actual Control.
China has always had, a devious nibbling annexation habit and policy, due to which the areas of differences increased since the Congress meekly turned a blind eye to the nibbling away of our territories by the Chinese through continuous transgressions and border violations. Though we entered into as many as six bilateral agreements in 1988, 1993, 1996, 2005, 2012 and 2013, we did not address the dispute over the Line of Actual Control (LAC). When the Chinese intruded and pitched tents deep inside our territory in Depsang, in 2013, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh mildly mentioned in Parliament about the Chinese having a different perception about the LAC. Protocols, talks and understanding between delegations meant nothing to China which kept violating decisions taken. Confidence Building Measures were being misused by the Chinese to resort to psychological warfare and “salami slicing”. This is because after 1962, non-violence was considered the policy of the then government. Our inglorious defeat in 1962 was due to Pandit Nehru’s policy after China’s invasion and occupation of Tibet in 1950, even though he had been cautioned by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Due to the policy of Congress regimes after 1962, our defence forces were neglected and infrastructure was non-existent.
It was only after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, that strengthening border infrastructure became a national priority. Today, there has been a great leap in infrastructure development at the India-China border on the Indian side which has become a great deterrent for China. Had the infrastructural development started in the Congress regimes, we would have been in a much more dominating position today.
It was only thanks to the vision of Prime Minister Modi, that after 2014, we have created a strong road network by the Border Roads Organization and the CPWD despite the small window, during the year, for construction, due to the treacherous winter. The Border Area Development Programme has been allocated Rs. 784 Crores in the fiscal year 2020-2021. “10% of the total allocated funds will be additionally allocated to the States/UTs abutting Indo China Border [Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Sikkim and Uttarakhand] for taking up works in the districts abutting Indo China Border”. The creation of infrastructure “would help integrate these area with the hinterland, create a positive perception of care by the country and encourage the people to stay on in the border areas leading to a safe and secure border” as per the M.H.A. And border infrastructure has developed on all borders through comprehensive Integrated Border Management Systems – be it border out posts, border fencing, mobile towers, use of technology at the border and lighting. On the India-Tibet Border, not only has the spread of roads increased, but also other infrastructure including helipads, tunnels and bridges.
At the same time there has been increased patrolling – be it long range patrols, short range patrols or joint patrols of the Army and ITBP. We have always held our ground in the several face-offs which regularly take place. Our regular patrols also enable us to assess Chinese activities, identify features of tactical importance, dominate infiltration routes, corroborate inputs and assert our presence. Post 2014, our patrols have been actively engaging, confronting and preventing any incursions from the other side. We are consistently asserting our right and not allowing any construction activity in our territory within the LAC. In Doklam in 2017, we stalled the construction of a road by the Chinese which would have adversely affected our strategic interests. This was certainly a diplomatic victory for India. It is only after this that China became more wary of India’s diplomatic and military might, under Prime Minister Modi.
Work on a link road, part of an infrastructure project of a strategic road in Ladakh, is one of the factors which seemed to have pushed China into their misadventure on 15 June 2020 when they were given strong and firm counter by our valiant soldiers. Another reason which could have irked China is the fact that a strong India rightly did not support the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which was not advisable from our security point of view. The BRI was a project by China to establish their dominance in global trade and this included the China – Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is not acceptable to India and it goes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Other factors which could have added salt to China’s wounds could have been the friendly relations between India and USA and the formation of the two Union Territories of J & K and Ladakh and abrogation of Article 370, the greatest achievement of the Indian government since independence. This only reflects Chinese vulnerability and the Galwan aggression only reflects the desperate action of a frustrated country.
Prime Minister Modi’s policy towards China has been a judicious mix of diplomatic, military and economic options. Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping have had as many as 18 summit meetings in the past six years, including two informal meetings at Mamallapuram and Wuhan. Several meetings have been held at different levels. The 15th meeting of the WMCC (Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination), was held on 24 June 2020, where India stressed on respecting the LAC and both sides agreed to expeditiously implement the 6 June understanding on disengagement and de-escalation.
While diplomatic parleys should continue, it is imperative to continue Prime Minister Modi’s policy to strengthen both our infrastructural and military build up to muzzle and choke the dragon in case it attempts to spit fire again. No one can challenge a determined India. Though India is a peaceful nation, we shall negotiate only from a position of strength. And this can happen only under a Prime Minister of the stature and strength like Narendra Modi who always had the support of Jan Shakti – peoples’ power, and is backed by 130 crore patriotic Indians.
(The writer is a retired Director General, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). His views are personal.)
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