Disengagement happening as per India’s intent, not China’s 1959 claim: Ex-DGMO

The Line of Actual Control (LAC) demarcated by India and China has had many claims and counterclaims in the past, but the latest disengagement is not happening as per the Chinese claims made to India in 1959.

“Disengagement at the LAC is not happening as per China’s 1959 claim. It is absolutely incorrect and untrue that India has given in to China’s claim on LAC,” former Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia (retd), told IANS.

He said that India wanted a status quo ante that implies what was the location, position and deployment as of April 2020, just before the Chinese forward deployment started in May 2020.

“As per that, the Chinese position has been at the east of Finger 8, a place called Sirijap on the north bank of the Pangong Lake. Our location had been a place called Dhan Singh Thapa. That was the position in April 2020, which has been a traditional position for the last many years,” he said.

Talking about China’s 1959 claim, Bhatia said that it is based on too many interpretations and perceptions.

“The disengagement is taking place from the friction points which are the most sensitive on the north and south banks of Pangong Lake,” said the former DGMO, adding that these are the friction points where tanks, infantry combat vehicles and infantry soldiers get face-to-face in very close proximity.

“These frictional points have the probability of clashes. That is what has been addressed. First, the most sensitive area on the south bank of Pangong Lake. The disengagement process has started from there and subsequently it will be taken up in the other sectors,” he said.

Bhatia said that it is going to be a long and tedious process, which won’t be an easy doing. “These are high altitude areas and it will take time. They (China) will be vacating the constructions they have done, move bunkers and habitants from Finger 5 and Finger 6,” he said.

“So India’s aim was the position of status quo ante and it has been achieved. Now to say that the position was of 1959 and we have de facto accepted it is an absolutely incorrect statement to make,” he said.

Talking about the way forward to resolve the issue, Bhatia said that first there should be disengagement from all the friction points and thereafter there will be de-escalation and then de-induction.

“Thereafter, reinforce your agreement which was there for four-and-a-half decades. Of course, they have been violated and we are now caught in lack of trust,” he said.

Bhatia added that India should now start building capabilities and capacities, enhance reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities, enhance quick reaction capabilities so that there is no pre-empt move in the future.

The retired officer said that the first step is always to resolve the crisis and then take things forward step by step, adding that talks to resolve the border issues should continue.

(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at sumit.k@ians.in)