The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s(PLA)incursions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh has ironically brought back an old rift between the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) over the operational control of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP),which guards the 650km-long border with China in Jammu and Kashmir.
South Block mandarins have been reiterating their demand for the 50,000 strong force to be placed under the control of the Army, on the lines of the Assam Rifles that guards the India-Myanmar border. The PLA troops, along with the two sniffer dogs, had sneaked inside Indian territory on April 15, which went unnoticed by the ITBP personnel. The Chinese had also pitched four tents at Debsang Bulge in the area.
However, the ITBP got to know of it only 24 hours later, primarily because they are not permanently stationed at the location and conduct patrols only when the situation allows it. Also, the patrols do not cover the entire stretch of the border as a result of the the norms set by the ‘China Study Group’, a high-level committee with secretaries of MoD, MHA and the Ministry of External Affairs apart from the Army Vice Chief as its members. The ITBP top brass, though, has remained tight-lipped on the issue.