For any new observers of military relations between India and China,the situation on the border in the past few months would seem very grim indeed. After the incident in Ladakhs Depsang plains when Chinese troops camped on disputed landed for three weeks in April,there have been a series of reports on incursions on the Indian side of the border,with each incident being portrayed as more serious than the previous. The pitch,in fact,has been raised so high that the latest talk is about five incursions in a matter of 11 days this month.
For two of the largest armies in the world,such widespread confrontation would seem fraught with uncertainties and danger. However,what is not being made clear is that the transgressions that are of late being aggressively reported are a fact of life on the unresolved LAC that India and China share. This year alone,more than 150 such transgressions have occurred from the Chinese side on what it considers its territory. An equal,if not more,number of transgressions have taken place by India on what China considers its land.
It will also be clear to many from where the recent spate of reports on transgressions has emerged. What is still not clear is whether it is institutionally driven. With the Defence Ministry going all out to play down the transgressions,toning down to total silence mode,an internal confrontation may well be on the cards.
The fact is that the disputed border has been seeing incidents of transgression constantly for over three decades. Statistics with the Army show,on an average,the number of times the Peoples Liberation Army patrols across the Indian perception of of the border is in excess of 300 in an year. The Indian side ensures that similar patrolling is carried out by its troops to emphasise its claim on the disputed territory.
While it is clear that there is a need to resolve the outstanding historic issue and that China has extensively modernised its side of the border much to the concern of the armed forces,the focus needs to be on creating necessary infrastructure on the Indian side and not on countering or playing up these incidents. The ground situation,clearly,has not shifted significantly.
Manu is an assistant editor based in Delhi