“Govt not totally transparent on LAC issue “

Govt not totally transparent on LAC issue

“The government has been more than economical regarding the situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), it had to issue a clarification statement the very next day the PM denied any incursion into Indian territory, and that particular portion of the statement has been removed in PM’s YouTube account as well” said Sushant Singh, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, he was addressing a panel discussion titled ‘Altered Status Quo in Ladakh: Securing a Better Deal’ at the India International Center(IIC) on Monday. 

Singh added that the government has not been entirely transparent regarding the situation and has not conducted any discussions regarding this in the Parliament or in the parliamentary standing committees and neither  has it allowed journalists in the area. 

Ambassador Stobdan, former Indian ambassador to Kyrgyzstan explained the extent of incursion by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “Patroling points 17, 16,15 and 14 are not accessible to us as of now, these have all become buffer zones. Half of Depsang is with the Chinese, from patroling point 10 to patrolling point 13. PP 1 to 9 is with us 10 to 13 is with them. Not merely some PP’s, Helmet top, Black top too are inaccessible to us now. They have pushed us in Depsang, while we have pushed them in Pangong area.” 

Amb Stobdan felt that as of now China is strongly placed in the border region “Chinese position seems to be stronger, Chinese preparations are so intense that even Chusul is becoming vulnerable. Their infrastructure work in the area continues even at night despite temperatures going slipping to minus 10 to minus 15”

He made it clear that the problem is not merely about not having access to certain areas but much more than that  “The situation is not merely about patroling points, the ground situation has changed because Chinese have brought new surveillance systems, new connectivity systems, new communication systems, new infrastructure systems so the ground situation is changed not nearly in terms of Geography but in terms of infrastructure. Their intelligence is very good, by now they have enough technology to disturb over electricity and block everything.” 

Lt. Gen. (Retd.) P.J.S. Pannu, former General Officer Commanding, 14 Corps Ladakh highlighted China’s better infrastructure for the PLA’s success in implementing their objectives “They were able to come up to finger 4, because they had better infrastructure, they came right up to  Finger 4 north of Pangong Tso as they had a road very close by, they drove in and didn’t go back. Similarly they went on to occupy hot Springs.”

He felt that PLA’s  main concern was the infrastructure work being carried out by India at Daulat Beg Oldi, “they didn’t want their Western Highway to be threatened. They are very sensitive about this since 1962” he said. 

Gen. Pannu explained the position on the ground as of today”They haven’t vacated certain areas of  Depsang and certain areas of Demchok. These areas were considered disputed hence there was an understanding that none would occupy them. In Depsang there is a place called bottleneck, here only a human being can go past, our soldiers used to go past the bottle neck and patrol various PP’s(patrolling points) and come back that is the area where they are sitting and we cannot patrol that area.  PLA is present there though it is not a humungous presence, not big enough presence to be labelled as a permanent presence, strength is also reflective of the intent”. 

The General felt that it would be better if there is a single institution managing the India-Tibet border  “ITBP is under the Ministry of Home Affairs and Indian Army is under the Ministry of Defence and put together they defend the border, what we need is a single point control, you can’t have dual control as there would be confusion.”

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