“China and India have failed to resolve their boundary dispute since the war in 1962. Border patrol face-offs are frequent, and an armed clash or skirmish if not contained, could lead to a local conflict,” said a colonel in the Indian Army in an article written in 2010.
The officer, Harinder Singh, now a Lieutenant General and corps commander, finds himself with a crucial task of avoiding the local conflict he had written about ten years ago.
On 6 June, Lieutenant General rank officers of India and China will meet to defuse tensions at the border, especially after the physical brawl between troops took place on the banks of Pangong Tso in Ladakh. And Lt Gen Harinder Singh will be representing India’s interest in this meeting.
Who is Lt Gen Harinder Singh?
Lt Gen Harinder Singh is the commander of the Leh-based 14 corps, also known as the ‘Fire and Fury Corps’. The 14 Corps looks after military deployment along Kargil-Leh and looks after the frontiers with China, Kashmir and also guards the Siachen glacier. Lt Gen Singh took charge of the corps in October last year.
Lt Gen Harinder Singh started his career in the armed forces with the Maratha Light Infantry.
Before assuming the command of ‘Fire & Fury Corps’, he served as the Director-General Military Intelligence (DGMI) at the army headquarters. Milliary Intelligence is tasked with generating tactical or field intelligence in all counties bordering India.
He has also held command of a Rashtriya Rifles battalion in north Kashmir, which is responsible for counter-insurgency operations in the Valley. Apart from that, he helms an infantry brigade group in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo and the infantry division in north Kashmir.
General's Take on China
In a paper titled ‘India's Emerging Land Warfighting Doctrines and Capabilities’ in 2010, Lt Gen Singh offers his insight into the border tensions with China.
“Though some impression of stability prevails at the strategic level, China continues to exhibit marked political, diplomatic and military assertiveness at the tactical level… In recent years, the westward expansion of Chinese railway and road infrastructure in the Tibetan Autonomous Region accentuates India’s concerns with regard to their military intentions. Indian forces, therefore, have to be sufficiently prepared to defend against China the mid-to-long term,” he had written.
The China Expert Backing Him
While Lt Gen Singh will be representing India at the high-level talks, his superior and the northern army commander Lt Gen YK Joshi has stationed himself at Leh.
Lt Gen Joshi, a Kargil war hero, brings with him knowledge of Mandarin and his experience as Defence Attache to China between 2005 to 2008. His tenure at China desk of the Directorate-General of Military Operations gives him insights that would help his corps commander in the crucial discussions ahead.
As the two neighbours sit down to resolve the border differences, all eyes will be on these two officers.