Calling the attack on Indian troops at Galwan a premeditated action by China, Lt Gen B S Jaswal (retd), former Army Commander, Northern Command, said he would have supported the use of firearms by Indian troops in the face of such “barbarism”.
Calling it wrong to compare these intrusions to Kargil due to the difference in intent, Jaswal said besides talks, the only way forward is to either evict the Chinese or do a quid pro quo by occupying one of their positions.
“What happened yesterday was a premeditated act on part of the Chinese troops, they want to claim Galwan Valley. Despite reaching a consensus to respect the LAC, they didn’t return 5 km upstream to the actual line.’’
Giving the sequence of events, the Jaswal, who commanded this sector in 2010, said, “When the CO, 16 Bihar, went to PP 14 and asked them to withdraw, they refused and a scuffle ensued. They attacked the commanding officer and our boys reacted. Our disadvantage was that we weren’t carrying any tools…. I believe some soldiers fell off the cliff into the nullah.
“Meanwhile, the Chinese got reinforcements, which led to so many casualties.”
He said, “I salute my boys. They caused double the casualties unarmed.”
Jaswal said the troops refrained from using weapons due to orders. “But if I were there and my troops were being killed in a barbaric manner, their skulls smashed, I would have used weapons.”
Calling it wrong to compare the Galwan standoff with Kargil, Jaswal said, “It is totally different, the aims are different. Galwan occupation is part of the creeping assertiveness of China. It is like what they did in Longju and Asaphila in Arunachal (Pradesh) — they came and occupied.’’
Jaswal pointed out that the Chinese never objected when India was building roads in the sector in 2010. “I was there in 2010. The road cut was being done and we had even moved a tank on it to check its efficacy. China never objected.”
Now, he said, they want to show solidarity with Pakistan because India is staking claim on Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and China Pakistan Economic Corridor is going through that area. “They fear that we have the potential to carve out another Bangladesh.”
Referring to the difference of opinion about the LAC between China and India at various points, Jaswal said the LAC at Galwan was one straight line and there were no two views about it. “That line is 5 km upstream along the Galwan nullah. How come they now say it is up to the Sheok river? They are wrong in saying that we entered their area – it’s they who intruded,” he said.
On the way forward, Jaswal said talks must continue both at military and diplomatic levels. “We should leverage Tibet and also stop all economic activities with China. But that doesn’t take away the dominating positions that Chinese have occupied at Galwan heights. They can now interdict the DSDBO (Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie) road, an all-weather road in eastern Ladakh.”
Calling quid pro quo another option, he said, “We can go and occupy a certain area, which will then give us some bargaining room. Second, we can physically evict them.”
Either way, the General said the dispute could get protracted. “It’s not that simple, this time they have come with a backup; their intention is to stay.”
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