India, China reach broad agreement to end incursions, maintain peace

Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda meeting top PLA official in Beijing.
Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda meeting top PLA official in Beijing.

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Dec 20: India and China have reached “broad understanding” on maintaining peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh sector of Jammu and Kashmir and decided to have frequent meetings at the level of local commanders to resolve any disputes between the two sides.
The understanding was reached during six day long visit of high level military delegation of the Northern Army Command headed by GOC-in-C Lt Gen DS Hooda to China. The delegation comprising eight top officials of the Northern Command including a Major General, two Brigadiers and four Colonels apart from Lt Gen Hooda met top officials of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China, defence experts and analysts and leadership of the neighbouring country.
Describing visit as “very successful” and response of China to Northern Command delegation as “very encouraging”, official sources told the Excelsior that top officials of the two Armies agreed to maintain complete peace and tranquility along the 646 kilometers long LAC running between treacherous mountains in Ladakh sector.
“Both sides assured each other that they were committed to maintain peace on the LAC and will ensure that there were no incursions of any kind-either by the Army or by the people,” sources said, adding the visit would go long way in ensuring peace on the LAC.
Noting that the LAC between India and China generally remained peaceful barring occasional incursions by the PLA troops, which too have come down drastically after takeover of Narendra Modi Government at the Centre followed by visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to New Delhi last year and Modi’s visit to Beijing in May this year, sources said the PLA officials have categorically stated that there will be no incursions from their side and terms them (the incursions) as result of un-demarcated boundary.
India and China shared un-demarcated 4076 kilometers boundary between them that runs over five States including Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
According to sources, the two sides have also reached an understanding that they would resolve local issues, if any, at the level of field commanders by holding meetings at two Border Meeting Points (BMPs)-Chushul and Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) in Ladakh sector. The DBO BMP had been commissioned this year only.
India and China also proposed to open more BMPs in Ladakh sector in due course of time to increase the level of inter-action between the two Armies especially at the time of any disputes.
Sources said China was keen to enhance the level of military inter-actions between the two sides and Lanzhou Military Region Commander of China Liu Yuejun could pay reciprocal visit to New Delhi including Northern Command of the Army next year.
The Indian military delegation visited Lanzhou Military Region during their visit from December 14 to 19, which covers majority of area of China falling opposite Ladakh sector and had detailed discussions with the PLA Commanders there on strategic issues like patrolling along the LAC, manning un-demarcated boundary and maintaining peace.
The Indian delegation also visited the PLA Headquarters in Beijing, where they had discussions on several important issues with the top Commanders. The delegation also met various defence experts and analysts of China to know their views on Sino-Indian friendship.
Sources said the Indian military delegation also had talks with Gen Qi Jianguo, Deputy Chief of General Staff, PLA in which the two sides hoped to further strengthen the bilateral defence exchanges by enhancing the frequency of interactions between the two Armies.
“Both sides agreed that in the recent past, the political and military interaction between the two countries has increased which has been instrumental in achieving the aim of the leaders of both countries during their bilateral visits to enhance mutual understanding and cooperation,” sources said, adding that the two countries have also agreed to further cooperate on issues of fighting terrorism which is affecting both the countries.
China had, of late, started facing terrorism in its Xinjiang province, where only in September this year, the militants had gunned down 18 persons. Other acts of terrorism have also been reported in this province.
As Indian Army has vast experience in tackling terrorism for past several years, the PLA officials wanted to gain from the Indian delegation, sources said.
The Lanzhou Military Region of China is very significant for India as it was one of the seven military regions of China as it directs military and armed police forces in Xinjiang, Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia and Shaanxi besides Ali area of Northwest Tibet. Some of these regions fall opposite Ladakh sector.
The purpose of the Indian military delegation to China was to work out sound mechanism to avoid incursions in Ladakh and other parts of the LAC and maintain peace and tranquility.
Barring two (one each in 2014 and 2015), no major incursions have been reported from the PLA in Leh sector during the past two years. Both the incursions were resolved at local level within few days. Indian troops this year had gone aggressive and demolished surveillance camera installed by the PLA on Indian side of the LAC.
India-China militaries have held five rounds of counter terrorism exercises in the last few years.
Lt Gen Hooda is the first Northern area commander to visit China since Beijing denied regular visa to his predecessor Lt Gen B S Jaswal in 2010 on the grounds that his command area included the “disputed” Jammu and Kashmir, which sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries.
During that time China also resorted to issuing “stapled visas” to residents of Jammu and Kashmir on the same grounds which drew strong protests from India. In retaliation, New Delhi also cancelled all military-to-military exchanges.