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‘Wahan mat jao policy must end, border needs to be accessible’

The Chinese foreign minister’s visit at the very beginning of the tenure of the government shows that India and China are going to move together.

Written by Vijaita Singh |
June 5, 2014 12:46:45 am

Ahead of a visit by the Chinese foreign minister, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju discusses border issues, Article 370 and terrorism with Vijaita Singh

What is the government’s position on China?

The Chinese foreign minister’s visit at the very beginning of the tenure of the government shows that India and China are going to move together.

What does it mean for reclaiming Indian territory under Chinese control?

We have lost some portions of our territory both in J&K and in Arunachal Pradesh. The McMahon line, which demarcates the India-China border in the Arunachal sector, is not actually demarcated on the ground. So if we are not guarding our territory with adequate manpower, it is giving them space to come and occupy. The China border is an area of concern… infrastructure is minimum. The negative policy of the past — that the border should be closed, not be accessible to civilians, not be developed — will be done away with. I am happy that Rajnath Singh and I last week took up this matter and came to the conclusion that we must initiate immediate steps to enhance our capacity, manpower and  developmental activities along the border. Fences cannot be there; there is no demarcation. If we have adequate manpower guarding those areas, there will be no chance of their forces transgressing.

Will India settle for the LAC (line of actual control) as the final border?

No. The LAC can work only in those areas where flag meetings are taking place. A stretch of thousands of kilometres is difficult to demarcate. The settlement has to be comprehensive. One major point of difference is the McMahon line in Arunachal. China does not consider it a legitimate line while we do.

What is on the anvil?

… A massive road network, telecommunication, landing ground and facilities to be created for security forces, amenities and access to people. Why should people be restricted from going till the border areas? If you go to other countries, they try to illegally bring people and create settlements in the border areas. In India, we say, “Wahan mat jao.” It’s unbecoming of the government to adopt such a policy. You want to keep that place unoccupied and lose it finally?

How do you propose to deal with lack of coordination among the ministries of defence, home and external affairs on managing the border?

This has been an issue for a very long time. The mandate of guarding the border is with ITBP; the Army is there when it is directed to act. The lack of understanding and coordination… we need to really do away with it. Even MHA officials don’t have access to some places being manned by defence personnel.

After the spate of Chinese incursions last year, there was talk of the Army taking over the border.
The PM will take a call on that. If [the home] minister and the PM take a decision along with senior colleagues, I think any force is capable of handling the situation provided proper instructions are given… The handing over of the Myanmar border to the BSF is already in process.

Any blueprint for Naxalism?

Rajnath Singh has already said while mentioning action to be taken against Naxals, that we must come up with solutions too, out-of-the-box thinking. Only an action plan is not enough. For example, when we are dealing with peace talks with various groups in the Northeast, they need to be provided employment; mere confrontation is not going to work.

What about Kashmir?

We have to have a holistic view of all issues —  fake currency, drug trafficking from the border or the problem emanating from the [home] side. We have prioritised the problem areas and a detailed action plan will follow — internal security, border management, police modernisation, Centre-state relations. The PM has said federalism will be a core issue.

Article 370 has been the subject of a recent controversy.
The decision will be taken by the PMO. We discussed the implication of Article 370, how it has affected the people, how many people left the Kashmir valley and settled in Jammu region — half of them have to come to Delhi and nearby areas — and how the situation needs to be handled because of the sensitive nature of the article.

How is the Indian Mujahideen placed?

It has already been put under a ban. Any threat to national security will be dealt with strongly. We will not leave any chance for them to grow again… As per reports, they have really gone down. Agencies have been successfully tackling them. There is no immediate threat but they need to be nipped completely.

What about Hindu terror?

It is a political issue. You have seen the cases of the Samjhauta Express blast; they were politicised so much… I will not comment on the facts of the investigation but certainly anything given a political angle will not be good for the nation. Any case should be based on fact and not on perception about any organisation or individual. The NIA should go by merit. A chargesheet does not mean they are guilty, it is just a process of investigation.

Shouldn’t the same rule apply to the Indian Mujahideen too?

That’s what I am saying. Any force working to destabilise India should be dealt with effectively. We cannot pick and choose.

Do you think VIP security should be done away with?

Unnecessary security should be avoided. Our forces should not be misused. It is a natural resource and just to enhance your profile and status you should not use it. It should depend totally on threat perception and intelligence alerts.

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