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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Our forces can be more hostile on China border if needed: outgoing ITBP chief

Describing the India-China border as an “active border” from 2020, the ITBP chief said: “Any attempt to disrupt the equilibrium between the two countries will not be permitted. We have the capabilities and those capabilities...were reflected last year also.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi |
Updated: August 31, 2021 7:13:38 am
ITBP DG SS Deswal on Uttarakhand rescue operations: ‘We are hopeful about rescuing 30 trapped in Tapovan tunnel’ITBP DG SS Deswal.

INDIAN FORCES can be “more hostile” to Chinese troops if needed “in case of national interest and to protect our borders”, and are enhancing their capabilities regularly to face any situation, according to Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) chief SS Deswal.

Speaking to The Indian Express on Monday, a day before he retires from service, DGP Deswal also said that forces under his command had to “take multiple steps on a daily basis” to secure India’s embassy and consulates in Afghanistan and ensure the evacuation of its diplomats and nationals.

Apart from guarding the India-China border, the ITBP had been responsible for securing Indian missions at Jalalabad, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif and Kandahar, and the embassy in Kabul. Deswal is a 1984-batch Haryana-cadre IPS officer, who served as ITBP chief for two years and 10 months.

Describing the India-China border as an “active border” from 2020, the ITBP chief said: “Any attempt to disrupt the equilibrium between the two countries will not be permitted. We have the capabilities and those capabilities…were reflected last year also. Wherever such attempts to change the ground situation were made, our forces gave complete resistance. Galwan was an example. We have brave soldiers who are always willing to sacrifice their lives for the country.”

Deswal was referring to the border clash in June last year in the Galwan valley where 20 Indian Army personnel and an unconfirmed number of Chinese troops were killed. Since then, the ITBP has been a part of Corps Commander-level talks to achieve disengagement.

Asked about the delay in talks on friction points after the Pangong Tso disengagement this year, Deswal said: “We can’t be tired out as a nation (by Chinese delays in negotiations). In case of national interest and to protect our borders, our security forces can be more hostile to them. Hostility is not one-sided. It is need-based. When it is needed by our country, our forces can be extremely hostile. We should not fear the hostility of our counterpart. We are more capable of being hostile towards them.”

He said India was increasing the capabilities of its forces at a faster pace than earlier. “Sometimes, it is deceptive of our counterparts to show strength that they actually may not have. We are enhancing our capabilities irrespective of what our counterpart is doing… We have great talent in the country, which is providing us with the latest technology to help our forces. It is an illusion that only the counterpart has all the innovations.”

Deswal, however, underlined that Indian forces were committed to the policy of no use of firearms on the border based on agreements between the two countries. “But we are always prepared for all situations of violence,” he said.

Asked whether India lost a chance to negotiate on the Depsang Plains issue while it had leverage on the south bank of Pangong Tso, Deswal said: “You can’t negotiate just one point. It is always give and take during the negotiations, which are going on successfully.”

He pointed out that disengagement at Pangong Tso was achieved also due to “diplomatic and political efforts”. “Urgency to complete negotiations is not the issue. The issue is that our claims must be accepted by the counterpart. Forces, diplomacy, politics, economy, all matter in negotiations,” he said.

Speaking on ITBP’s role in India’s evacuation efforts from Afghanistan, Deswal said: “It was always a challenge for us to protect the embassies and consulate-generals in Afghanistan. Hostile elements have always threatened our embassy there. It was a collective security environment created mainly by US and NATO forces on which our assessment of what would happen (as the Taliban advanced) was based. It was not under our control. Our control was only on how to protect our embassy in the given situation. That we did successfully for the past several years.”

However, he said, the “total system changed in the past one month since the US withdrew”. “We have taken steps on a daily basis in view of the emerging situation. That is how we were able to successfully evacuate all our people in the embassy,” he said.

Incidentally, Deswal’s daughter Yashaswini was a member of the Indian contingent at the Tokyo Olympics, participating in the 10 m air pistol event.

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