Despite restrictions in place affecting movement of people to traditional grazing land along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China, Lok Sabha member from Ladakh, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal said that people are cooperating and will continue to cooperate in the national interest.
In an exclusive interview to IANS, Namgyal said, “There is some issue with grazing as some restrictions are put in place in forward areas due to tension but people of Ladakh are cooperating and will continue to cooperate in national interest.”
Namgyal, also the state president of BJP’s Ladakh unit, assured citizens of this country that every inch of land is protected. “There is a ‘majboot sarkar, majboot sena’ (strong government, strong army) deployed in the country and border to protect every inch of land,” he said.
Namgyal blamed the poor border policy of the previous government for lack of infrastructure in the area. “Previous government’s ‘forward border policy is actually a ‘backward policy’,” he said.
Talking about the abrogation of article 370, Namgyal said from a sense of isolation, there is a sense of acceptance and security among people.
Excerpts of the interview
Q. What would you say about existing tension with China even after almost a year and half of face-off between two countries?
A. Different activities are going on different fronts. Disengagement policy has been implemented in a good way, which resulted in peace along the border of Ladakh. Not only disengagement but infrastructure has also improved in the region. Better road, bridge, telecommunication connectivity have been made available and progressing daily at full speed every day.
Q. You said the government is developing infrastructure along the border. Would you explain?
A. Infrastructure development which was supposed to take place in the last 70 years after independence did not take place. But now it has been happening since 2014 under Prime Minister Narendra Modi government. There is a border village called Demchuk with only 33 households without any basic infrastructure facilities. Army and ITBP personnel from across the country are deployed there. Forget about residents, there were no communication facilities available for our security personnel. In a daring act, the government of India provided 4G-connectivity by installing mobile towers along with other basic infrastructure facilities.
All the areas are developed and provided with the infrastructure matching the rest of the country. Today, along with road, bridge and telecommunication connectivity, housing, education and health infrastructure also developed under Modi government. Today, the Modi government has provided infrastructure facilities in all areas with or without human habitation.
Q. What are the reasons behind the lack of infrastructure in Ladakh region?
A. Weak border policy of previous governments is the sole reason for lack of basic infrastructure in Ladakh or near the border. Previous governments believed that better roads would facilitate enemies’ smooth entry on our side but they forget that our people are also living there and suffering due to the neglect. For the previous government, the region is not important and once a former Prime Minister had said it is a banjar (barren) land. It shows the mentality of the previous government having weak border policy. They called it ‘forward border policy’ but actually it was a backward policy. After 2014, the situation has changed and now every day through my tweets I tell people in the rest of the country about ongoing development in the region.
These development works empower residents and also strengthen borders.
Q. Many, including the Prime Minister, have talked about China’s expansionism, what would you say?
A. World knows about China’s policy of ‘Vistarvaad’ and it is not only with India but other countries also. They (China) have taken over Tibet. Our defence policy is strong under Prime Minister and Defence Minister, and Army and ITBP are confident as they are given free hand to handle any situation. Earlier in case of any incident at the border, first reports were sent to Delhi and forces used to wait for months for reply. Now Army and ITBP have been given free hand to take decisions in national interest. ‘Majboot Sarkar, majboot sena’ (Strong government, strong army) is deployed in the country and border. I assured all the responsible citizens of this country not to worry as our army is protecting every inch of land under the strong leadership of Prime Minister Modi.
Q. Opposition always questions the government’s China policy and some even ask why the government is not taking an aggressive stand like it takes against Pakistan?
A. First of all opposition leaders must understand that every government has different policies for different countries. Paracetamol cannot be used to treat all the diseases, for different diseases we need different medicine. Similarly, the government has a different policy and strategy for Pakistan and China. They (opposition) are the ones who always raise doubt on our forces and hurt national interest. They questioned surgical and air strikes and asked for evidence and are now doing the same.
Q. Due to tension, grazing turns out to be a problem for the residents. What would you say about a major problem faced by people in your constituency?
A. There is some issue with grazing and it happens only when there is some tension on the border. When problems arise, some restrictions are put in place and people of Ladakh are cooperating and will continue to cooperate in national interest.
People know that the restriction is not permanent and the area is near the forward post due to which restrictions are put on civilian movement and restrictions will be lifted when the situation improves.
Such restrictions are put in all the bordering areas when there is tension or activity and will be lifted with return of normalcy.
Q. Do you believe in the restoration of normalcy in the near future?
A. Yes, definitely under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Modi the country is moving ahead and a solution will ultimately come at the border.
Q. What has changed after abrogation of Article 370?
A. Lots have changed from physical infrastructure to emotional connect. People are now seeing infrastructure and basic facilities like housing under PM Awas Yojna, tap water under JJM (Jal Jeevan Mission) or digital connectivity. Before the abrogation of article 370, people used to feel isolated and used to give application basic facilities now these things are easily available. Now there is a sense of acceptance. Three Universities, medical and engineering colleges have been opened. There is a sense of acceptance and security among people.
(Shashi Bhushan be reached at email@example.com)