NEW DELHI: Even as tensions continue to rise between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, reports of firing on Monday have led to fears of a possible spillover of the tensions to other sectors of the border areas.
Tensions rose between New Delhi and Beijing after China late on Monday claimed that Indian troops illegally crossed the LAC and resorting to firing indiscriminately. India denied the accusation and alleged that China was being provocative.
“It appears that rather than disengagement and de-escalation, the border is heating up. If the firing story is correct, we are moving towards a major escalation that may spill into other sectors. It is Article VI of the Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field along the LAC which stipulates that there must be no firing within two kilometres of the LAC. Unfortunately, not only this article, but the entire body of CBMs and agreements have also been violated, and there are attempts to change the status quo and make a fait accompli of the transgression. I hope good sense prevails, status quo ante is restored and relationship put back on the track,” BR Deepak, Sinologist and chairperson of the Centre for Chinese and South Asian Studies at JNU, said.
Echoing is view was a former diplomat who said if true, it would be the first time in decades that gunshots were fired. “If there was firing, all the hard work that the previous regimes had put in to bring the agreements and CBMs into operation will go to waste. Also, if you notice there is a pattern. First, it was stones, then sticks and now gunshots. This will lead to a massive escalation,” he said.
Zorawar Daulet Singh, Adjunct Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies, said the current events are eerily similar to the lead up to the 1962 war. “The belief that a conflict will be localised and controllable was the reason India got caught off guard. Today, the Modi government has given far too much leeway to the military leadership to resolve this crisis.
But it has only deepened the impasse and hardened positions on both sides. It is time for the political leadership to take over the crisis management process as the buck will stop at the PMO,” he said.Tensions have continued to simmer since the June 15 face-off in the Galwan Valley. Former Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major believes that the situation has been tense since India captured the heights on the North and South banks of the Pangong Tso.
“One thing is clear that we have taken those heights and are going to stay. So far, the troops were not facing each other so closely and the situation was different. It is difficult to say as to what could happen in the future. But this doesn’t mean we should be lax,” he said. Former Navy Chief Admiral Arun Prakash warned that today they fired in the air and next time, there could be firing at each other.
“Once light firing gets escalated, it cannot be controlled thus involving mortar, tanks and artillery. The first effort should be made to not to allow the situation go out of control. If escalation happens, we should have plans involving the Army and Air Force with full force for a good response,” Prakash said.