Does Modi’s ‘No Intrusion’ Remark Ratify China’s LAC Land-Grab?
By giving China clean chits, by ignoring blatant intrusions, India is playing into China’s hands.
Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editors: Varun Sharma, Deepthi Ramadas
Cameraperson: Abhishek Ranjan
Just hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed to tell us all that China had not intruded into Indian territory, cartoonist Manjul was quick to share this cartoon on Instagram. India’s 20 martyrs staring shocked at a TV screen in heaven, hearing the PM say – ‘There was no incursion…’
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Let’s look at a few more reactions to Modi’s statement:
Retired Lt Gen Rameshwar Roy said he was shattered to see India quietly accepting China changing the status of the LAC in Eastern Ladakh.
Nirupama Rao, former Foreign Secretary and former Ambassador to China said, ‘Government has taken a realistic view of constraints emanating from the asymmetry of power with China – a polite way of saying India has bowed to the new reality at the LAC because China is stronger.
Strategic Expert Brahma Chellaney said, “Modi's new statement suits Chinese propaganda. As China ramps up infrastructure construction in newly grabbed areas, it will use Modi's words to justify its encroachments and to say that Indian soldiers illegally entered Chinese territory.”
China Was Quick to Grab PM Modi's ‘Clean Chit’
The Chinese have also grabbed this ‘clean chit’ – Chinese TV Journalist and Defence Analyst Shin Shiwei tweeted, “‘No outsider was inside Indian territory in Ladakh’, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The statement illustrates that the incidents happened in Chinese territory.
So, did PM Modi give the Chinese a ‘get out of jail’ card? The tent put up by the Chinese at Patrol Point 14 at Galwan valley – was it on India’s side of the LAC or not? By suggesting ‘no intrusion’ the PM seemed to imply it was on China’s side, which made us the intruders.
And that is exactly what their Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said on 18 June.
PMO’s Damage Control
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on 20 June tried damage control, denouncing “attempts to give mischievous interpretation” to Modi's remarks. The statement also said:
Backing the PM, this is what some experts said:
Does PM’s Statement Ratify China’s Intrusion Up to Finger 4, North of Pangong Tso?
Let’s return to the intrusions. For instance – does the PM’s statement ratify China’s intrusion up till Finger 4 on the northern shore of Pangong Lake? Here’s what Retired Lt Gen HS Panag claims:
Defence journalist Shiv Aroor adds that the Chinese have built 62 new positions between Finger 4 and 5 since 10 May and that earthmovers and bulldozers have been seen where Finger 4 touches Pangong Lake.
Has India Given Up Its Claim on the Area Between Finger 4 and Finger 8?
Since India perceives the LAC to be at Finger 8, surely all of this massive Chinese presence is on Indian territory! So, when the PM says ‘no incursions’ – does it mean India has given up its claim on the area between Finger 4 and Finger 8?
Every Army man will confirm that India used to patrol the area right up to Finger 8 and that now Indian Army patrols are being stopped at Finger 4 and we seem to have meekly accepted this new status quo, giving up 40 more square kilometres of our land.
Big Questions... But No Answers
But ask for clarity on this from the government and we get no answers. Instead, there’s godi media and the troll army calling you a traitor just for asking these legitimate questions.
Speaking to The Quint, Gen VP Malik, India’s Army Chief during the Kargil War, also said that China has intruded between Finger 4 and Finger 8. In a series of tweets he has also exposed China’s shifting goalpost strategy
Though India and China agreed in 1996 to urgently exchange maps indicating their respective perception of the LAC, Gen Malik asks why the Chinese have not done so. He says the absence of these maps led to the barbaric incident at Galwan. Deliberately not sharing a map of their perception of the LAC allows China to make fresh intrusions and “create new realities.”
China's Strategy: Occupy ‘No Man’s Land,’ Push ‘Perceived’ LAC & Make New Claims
But as former diplomat TCA Rangachari explains, China has stopped respecting the sanctity of the ‘no man’s land’. By building roads, permanent posts, barracks, placing heavy weapons in the grey areas at various points along the LAC, Galwan Valley, hot springs, Pangong Tso, the Chinese aim is to steadily ‘push’ the ‘perceived LAC’ and each time grab a few square kilometres of Indian territory. And with each such land grab, announce fresh ‘claims’. For example: the latest Chinese ‘claim’ is over all of the Galwan valley.
Unfortunately, yeh jo India hai na… it has been slow in recognising this strategy, and countering it diplomatically or militarily. By giving them clean chits, by ignoring blatant intrusions, by backing off each time, we’re playing into China’s hands.
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