A major ferocious clash broke out between Sino-Indo troops on June 15 in Galwan Valley in the dubious region of Eastern Ladakh. At least three fatalities were conveyed by India that later turned to 20 due to a barbaric episode on Monday night. This confrontation was first between the countries in 45 years, after the 1962 war.
India claimed wounds of 40 Chinese fighters, though China did acknowledge it as “fake news,” says Reuters. On June 17, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lijian Zhao alleged Indian soldiers of breaching LAC and passing boundary twice while “provoking and attacking Chinese personnel.” Former Indian Army Commander DS Hooda while commenting on Monday’s clash, says “This is extremely, extremely serious, this is going to vitiate whatever dialogue was going on.”
In his address to the nation, Indian Prime Minister NarendraModi refutes the annotations of Indian warriors by saying, “No outsider was inside Indian territory in Ladakh.” Later, the Prime Minister’s Office called it “mischievous interpretation” of the PM’s former statement. “Those who tried to transgress our land were taught a befitting lesson by our brave sons of the soil”, succinctly summed up the ethos and the values of our armed forces. He further emphasized, “I want to assure you, that our armed forces will leave no stone unturned to protect our borders,” says PM Modi.
Three days after the attack, Press Trust of India and other media outlets conveyed the release of 10 Indian Army personnel, including a Lieutenant Colonel, three majors and others from the custody of China in high-altitude border clash, there is no official authorization for the same, reported the Guardian.
It is necessary to understand the history of LAC and Sino-Indo border disputes to know the reasons behind this clash.
What is LAC?
Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the poorly demarcated border shared by India and China in the presence of rivers, lakes and snow caps which have a habit to shift. This 2,488 km long border separates Indian-controlled territories from those of Chinese territories. It is categorized into three segments, first is the eastern sector that distances India’s Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, while the middle sector is in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and western sector in Ladakh. As per the 1996 agreement, neither of the sides are allowed to open fire within 2 km of the LAC.
How did it start?
India inherited its border dispute with China from its British colonial rulers and at the gathering of China and Tibet’s representatives in Shimla in 1914, negotiated a treaty to determine the status of Tibet to resolve the border argument effectively. China went back on their words though initially accepted the agreement.
In 1962, China attacked India to occupy the region of Aksai Chin whereas, it still occupies that part of Ladakh while claiming Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian state, a part of its territory and was conquered by China itself.
In his visit to Beijing in 1959, the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru objected to the boundaries claimed by China on their maps. It compelled Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai to reply that the Chinese government did not accept any colonial frontline while claiming Chinese sovereignty over the territory beyond the regions of McMaon, an official International Indian border observed by India.
1962 Sino-Indo War
In 1962, amid the ongoing quarrel over the border, Chinese troops attacked over the disputed region with India. It was a turning point between the relationships of two countries, where India had to face a humiliating defeat and lost thousands of its soldiers in a bloodshed war of four weeks. Beijing occupied Aksai Chin while India still claims it entirely.
Two mountain passes, Nathu La and Cho La connecting Sikkim (Northeastern state of India) with China’s Tibet Autonomous region concentrated heightened tensions in 1967. Nathu La, India’s highest mountain pass in Sikkim that is crammed between Bhutan, Chinese-ruled Tibet and Nepal faced another chain of clashes calculating nearly 150 Indian and 350 Chinese casualties, reported New York Times.
Four Indian soldiers were reported deceased at the dividing line of Arunachal Pradesh in Tulung La clash in 1975. India accused Beijing of crossing the border and infiltrating Indian territories though China did not agree to this blame, says AlJazeera.
In 1993, both sides agreed to avoid using force against each other and LAC was legally recognized then.
Scuffles of 2013 and 2017, that caused and troubled and friable concord between the two large militaries cannot be ignored. In 2013, when Chinese troops pitched a camp near DaulatBegiOldi, Indians also started following them and set up their base fewer than 1,000 feet away. Both the sides dismantled their camps later. The Doklam Standoff took [place in 2017 when the Chinese started building a road in the Doklam plateau (area of the Himalayas but controlled by Bhutan and not India).
Why is it happening now?
Since late April, tensions have been escalating after China sent thousands of troops into the disputed territory along LAC while bringing artillery and vehicles. China is infuriated by the road construction undertaken by India. An enormous altercation broke out between the soldiers of both the countries in May at stationed camps in the Himalayas leading to the confrontation of Indian and Chinese troops. Both the armies have been rushing in thousands of reinforcements since then. These brawls amid the hustle of coronavirus, sparked by China in recent weeks have created unending tensions.
Some experts say India’s decision to repeal Article 370 of the Indian Constitution in August 2019, which guarantees India an autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir state that further includes the disputed areas in Ladakh region, is the reason behind this brawl. China had denounced the move at the UN Security Council last year while seeing this move of India affecting its territory. The Indian troops carried weapons to confront China. A major brawl happened when they started operating bulldozers while intending to destroy the road.
While a large number of experts say India’s inauguration of 255km Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat-Ram Beg Olide (DSDBO) road, built along the LAC last year has infuriated China as the road falls near Galwan Valley whose sovereignty is claimed by China. China has been objecting to it since India started its construction in April to connect DSDBO near Chinese post with Leh. Through this 255 km long project, India will strengthen the strategic position of its military in the disputed areas as the other point of controversy is extremely guarded Pangong Lake in Ladakh region.
The aftermath of the incident
Later, on June 18 India took the major decision of terminating the 471 crore contract of installing signal systems from Kanpur to Din DayalUpadhyay Station assigned to a Chinese company earlier in June 2016 by Indian Railways. Though, India said the progress of a mere 20% in the last 4 years is the major reason for snatching away the contract from the company.
On June 29, the Indian Government banned dozens of apps based in China including the most popular TikTok, Shein, UC Browser, Shareit and many more. The decision came weeks after the border clash to protect India’s sovereignty and security while citing cybersecurity concerns in blocking the apps under Section 69A of the Information and Technology Act.
A day later, the Chinese Foreign Ministry responded angrily and said India violated the WTO rules and regulations. While Tiktok explained its innocence. It said that it had complied with all the data security and privacy concerns under Indian laws. Within a week, PM Modi deleted his account on Weibo application, made since 2015, and all the restricted apps got removed from the play store.
On July 1, Indian Union Minister for Road and Transport and Highways announced disallowing participation of Chinese companies in Indian Road Projects.
The Indian Government on July 4 invited Indian developers to come up with innovative ideas of new apps in the fields of social networking, games, entertainment and so on. It was undertaken to contribute to the AtmaNirbhar (self-reliant) Project of India.
The clashes between the two most populous countries can have devastating consequences for the globe, though two sides are initiating talks even on the Major-General level since May.