I am in tears to see how our entire nation stands completely united behind our PM Narendra Modi on China issue. Never in my wildest of dreams could I have imagined that political stalwarts from nearly all parties except Congress ranging from former Defence Minister Sharad Pawar to former UP Chief Minister Mayawati to former Railway Minister and presently Chief Minister of Bengal Mamata Banerjee well known as worst critic of PM Modi among others would all speak in one voice that they fully stand with PM Modi on China issue and shall back every move taken by him. Even Arvind Kejriwal who is CM of Delhi and did not attend the all party virtual meeting chaired by PM Modi too made it amply clear that he stands fully with PM on China issue!
I am also in tears to see how Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao visited the family of late Colonel B Santosh Babu who was the Commanding Officer of 16 Bihar Regiment and who also led from the front and was martyred in recent Galwan face-off along with 19 others. Rao gave a cheque of Rs 4 crore to late Col Babu’s wife and also another cheque of Rs 1 crore to his parents. He also offered a Group 1 job to the late Colonel’s wife and made her a Deputy Collector in the State and also gave a 6,400 sq ft residential land in Hyderabad to the family! Certainly, the supreme sacrifice rendered by late Col Babu cannot be ever compensated by money or anything else but it will ensure that their families are not left on streets to fend for themselves as most unfortunately we saw in the aftermath of the 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars!
Needless to say, the dastardly, ghastly and most cowardly betrayal by Chinese troops who suddenly attacked Indian troops led by late Col Santosh Babu in a similar way as terrorists do has shocked not just India but the whole world. This latest betrayal by China has only served to vindicate what former Defence Minister late George Fernandes had said about China that, “Our real enemy is China whom we must sort out first. Pakistan is a small fry and can be handled later.” Another former Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav too considers China as our real enemy.
Even former Supreme Court Judge – Justice Markandey Katju had termed Pakistan and Bangladesh as “fake countries” created by Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi and had predicted that ultimately they would be merged with India in coming years! So then who is left? It is China! My best friend Sageer Khan too termed China as India’s biggest security threat for whom he said that we must have long term plans to crush them. Sageer also said that Pakistan is no worry as it can be crushed anytime as we did in 1971 when it was partitioned most easily when Bangladesh was born. Pakistan just keeps talking about cutting India into thousand pieces but even after nearly 50 years when we partitioned them, it has not been able to do anything except to rant, rant and rant!
So our real worry is China. We must recruit more soldiers to fight with China on equal strength as they currently outnumber us. Our strength is about 11 lakh and their strength is more than 20 lakhs! We must buy latest fighter plane like Rafale from France as early as possible.
We must guard ourselves from getting complacent and relaxed by just saying what we keep hearing also in some news channels repeatedly that, “This India is not what it was in 1962. This is India of 2020. Even China which spends lavishly on defence much more than what we spend has too come a long way since 1962.” We must never forget the age old time tested dictum that, “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” We cannot take a strong power like China for granted!
We must strive to remove all our weaknesses in defence and it is heartening to note that the current dispensation led by PM Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is exactly doing that! They have ensured that China releases our ten soldiers whom they had taken captive for which they must be commended and not condemned! We too released their soldiers including a Colonel rank officer. Rajnath Singh has just recently left for Russia on a three-day visit during which he is likely to press for the timely delivery of the S-400 missile defence systems and discuss ways to further expand bilateral military ties, amid the escalating border row with China! This is the crying need of the hour also!
Days after the India-China face-off in Galwan river valley, the family of Ladakhi writer and explorer Ghulam Rasul Galwan – from whom the Valley gets its name – recalled another brutal encounter on the same land, this one a century ago, that their ancestor had with Chinese soldiers. Manzoor who is Ghulam Rasul’s great grandson lamented rightly that, “It pains us that more than 100 years on, Chinese transgressions have continued.” Now again they have betrayed us and attacked without any cause! Even a snake cannot be as dangerous as China!
So it must be reiterated that we should never trust China and should never lower our guard under any circumstances. It is China which has constantly helped Pakistan to fight against us by providing them nuclear weapons, missiles and what not! It is again China which has mala fidely provoked Nepal with whom we enjoy good relations to declare many areas which belong to India as their own territory by bringing and passing a resolution in this regard just recently in Parliament!
Again it is China which is provoking our other neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka to turn totally against us! It is China to whom Pakistan has ceded huge territory of PoK. It is China which wants to occupy the whole of Kashmir! It is China which is luring Pakistan into debt trap and want to eliminate its identity as a nation itself!
It goes without saying that China cannot be loyal to anyone. It backstabbed us in 1962 after giving emotional slogans like “Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai”. This explains why now Zee News Channel has very rightly raised another slogan titled “Hindi Chini Bye Bye”!
Asserting India’s full and firm claim on the Galwan Valley of Ladakh, New Delhi has told Beijing that making “exaggerated and untenable claims” is contrary to the understanding reached in talks between military commanders on June 6. Anurag Srivastava who is the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs said suavely that, “Given its responsible approach to border management, India is very clear that all its activities are always within the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control. We expect the Chinese side to also confine its activities to its side of the LAC.” He minced no words to say that, “The Chinese side unilaterally attempted to change the status quo, took premeditated and planned action and was directly responsible for the casualties suffered by both sides. This could have been avoided had the agreement at the higher level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side.”
While calling the dastardly attack on Indian troops as “a premeditated action by China”, Lt Gen BS Jaswal (retd), former Army Commander, Northern Command, said he would have supported the use of firearms by Indian troops in the face of such “barbarism”. Jaswal who commanded this sector in 2010 said, “When the CO, 16 Bihar went to Patrolling Point PP14 and asked them to withdraw, they refused and a scuffle ensured. They attacked the commanding officer and our boys reacted. Our disadvantage was that we weren’t carrying any tools… Meanwhile, the Chinese got reinforcements which led to so many casualties.” He rightly added that, “I salute my boys. They caused double the casualties unarmed.” It was widely reported that they lost about 45 to 60 soldiers but Chinese kept quiet on such reports. Just recently they conceded that two officers of theirs died including a CO in a bloody confrontation with Indian troops on the night of June 15 in Galwan Valley. It is for the first time since Vietnam war that the PLA of China has suffered so many casualties!
To be sure, Gautam Bambawale who is former India’s ambassador to Beijing while describing the killings of soldiers at Galwan as an “inflexion point” in India-China relations said it was time for New Delhi to make a “deep reappraisal” of its policy towards China, because the old template that has been defining their relationship for the last 30 years was “no longer working”. He further said that, “The current paradigm of India-china relationship was set in December 1988 during then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China. The key thing of that template was that while we continue our efforts to find a resolution of the boundary dispute, while ensuring peace on the border, the interactions and exchanges in other fields must proceed forward. After that there have been several agreements and understandings, in 1993, 1996, 2005, 2013 and several others. The world has changed in the meanwhile, the two countries have changed, but our relationship has continued to be defined within that template. I think this particular incident should change that.”
Following the violent border face-off with China on June 15 that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and 45-60 Chinese soldiers dead, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told the military top brass during a review meeting that the government has given the forces freedom to “give a befitting reply” if there is further escalation from the other side. PM Modi while praising the valour of the 20 army personnel killed in the clash said they “taught a lesson” to those who were eyeing Indian territory. Col (Retd) Sonam Wangchuk who is a hero of the Kargil war and Maha Vir Chakra awardee said that, “After this incident, we lost 20 boys but in return the casualties that we inflicted were more than double, around 40-43. I am sure we retaliated hard. The Chinese never admit their casualties. This happened in 1962 as well. Our one Kumaon company killed a thousand of theirs, while we lost 130 boys. Even at that time, they did not admit their casualties. Most probably this time too they will not admit it.”
It is heartening to note that the commanders will no longer be bound by restrictions on the use of firearms. A significant change has been made in rules of engagement (ROE) by the Indian Army by which “complete freedom of action” given to commanders deployed along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) to “handle situations at the tactical level”. The commanders will have full authority to respond to “extraordinary situations” using all the resources at their disposal. It was also disclosed that, “With the changes in the ROE, there’s nothing that limits the ability of Indian commanders to take whatever action they deem necessary on the LAC. ROE have been amended to address to address the brutal tactics being employed by Chinese troops.”
On Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s question on whether the Indian soldiers were sent in “unarmed”, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tweeted that, “Let us get the facts straight. All troops on border duty always carry arms, especially when leaving post. Those at Galwan on 15 June did so. [It is a] longstanding practice (as per 1996 & 2005 agreements) not to use firearms during faceoffs.” It must also be noted that Article 6 of the agreement on confidence building measures in the military field along the LAC, signed by India and China in November 1996, states that, “Both sides will not open fire or conduct blast operations or hunt with guns or explosives within two kilometers from the Line of Actual Control.” It is China which has mocked at it by violating it flagrantly defying all that is prescribed in it!
Clearly, China is now on the backfoot as it sacked the Army Commander for its Western Theatre Command ground forces responsible for handling the Sino-India border and who oversaw Chinese aggression in the Eastern Ladakh region and that too ahead of the all-important Corps Commander level meeting and appointed Lt Gen Xu Qiling as the new Commander. Both in the Doklam 73 day standoff and now Ladakh standoff, there is one common denominator: General Zhao Zongqi who is the PLA’s Western Theatre Command’s big boss who was masterminding everything. It is he who masterminded both the standoffs and has cultivated the reputation of being ruthless on the border. But now Xi Jinping has made him the scapegoat by sacking him. The Chinese don’t want to admit that it was their President who got his army’s nose bloody. So it is far more convenient to pin the entire blame on the sacked Lt General! It is very much possible that this sacking took place because India matched up to Chinese build up and kept developing its infrastructure relentlessly despite Chinese PLA’s strong attempts to block it somehow!
It is a no-brainer that the reason behind Chinese aggression is that it wants to hamper and stall the construction of the winding 255 km Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie Road. This road will allow the Indian Army to easily access its last military post South of the Karakoram Pass. China was opposing the construction of this road, because once completed, this road will allow India to put retaliatory pressure on the Dragon at the Karakoram Pass, Chip Chap river area, Trig Heights, Hot Springs, Galwan and Depsang Plains. China wants to make the Daulat Beg Oldie sector inaccessible for India as part of its larger diabolical conspiracy of achieving its evil design of connecting Tibet with Pakistan occupied Gilgit-Baltistan. But thanks to our strong political leadership under PM Modi that India didn’t buckle and the political along with the military leadership made it absolutely clear that there will be no hiatus in road building along the Sino-India border. It is China which has to move back and restore the status quo as was the case in April 2020!
Former Chief of Army Staff and now Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways – Gen VK Singh too very rightly suggests that, “The first thing that has been given out is to boycott Chinese goods, let’s start with this. Let’s hurt them economically… War and use of force is the last resort always and every time. When all other means fail then you resort to this. There are many means available.”
To be sure, P Stobdan who is an expert on the Himalayan region very rightly points out in Hindustan Times dated June 20, 2020 in his enlightening article titled “How the Galwal Valley tragedy can transform Himalayan geopolitics” that, “India must respond to China’s move, not just through military means but through a forward-looking strategic, economic and connectivity vision matching China’s BRI project. It must think about reconnecting and resuming old trade links. Ladakh is a geostrategic axis or a pivot point for India to reach out to Central Asia, Europe and Russia. The Dorbo-Shayok-DBO road should be called the Ladakh economic corridor. It should be India’s approach to go beyond the Himalayas. Otherwise, India is destined to remain defensive in posture. This, however, is contingent on India reworking the governance priorities in Ladakh. The region has already remained neglected for a long time due to Article 370 and 35A.” He also rightly suggests that the area must be populated more as it is the locals who have the best understanding of the border.
Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria while referring to the situation on the Line of Actual Control and addressing a combined graduation parade at the Air Force Academy in Dundigal said, “We are well prepared and suitably deployed to respond to any contingency. I assure the nation that we are determined to deliver and will not let the sacrifices of our soldiers go in vain.” Speaking to media-persons later, he also said: “The Army is in total control of the situation at the Galwan Valley and the Air Force is ready to support the Army’s efforts by deploying additional forces to meet any emergency.” He also said: “The IAF has stepped up deployment in Leh and Srinagar. We are aware of the full situation. Be it at LAC, be it deployments beyond LAC. All the air deployments, their postures, the kind of deployments… We have full analysis and we have taken the necessary action that we need to take to handle any contingency that may arise with this kind of deployment. All actions have been taken. We know what their (Chinese) fields are. We know what their air fields are, where they are deployed, what are the operational bases.”
It would perfectly be in order to pay heed to what the IAF chief RKS Bhadauria advised that, “The security scenario in our region mandates that our armed forces remain prepared and vigilant at all times. The development at LAC is a small snapshot of what we are required to handle at short notice. Please join me in paying tribute to Colonel Santosh Babu and his brave men who sacrificed their lives while defending the LAC in Galwan Valley. The gallant action in a highly challenging situation has demonstrated our resolve to protect the sovereignty of our country at any cost.”
It is but obvious that all the major countries whether it is USA or European Union or Australia have stated that they stand fully behind India and strongly condemned China for its Army’s cowardly and unprofessional acts! US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has blamed China for escalating tensions along the border with India and openly termed it a “rogue Actor” in the neighbourhood. He also said that, “The PLA has escalated border tensions – we see it today in India, the world’s most popular-populous democracy. And we watch as it militarises the South China Sea and illegally claims more territory there, threatening vital sea lanes, a promise they broke again. It’s no longer enough to listen to what the Chinese Communist Party is saying. We can see their actions. I ticked through a few of them: Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang, what they’re doing in India, what they’ve done in the economic zones along the Philippines and Malaysia and Indonesia and Vietnam, the coercion on Australia – when they had the audacity to demand that there would be an investigation of how this virus got from Wuhan to Milan, how this virus got from Wuhan to Tehran, how this virtus got from Wuhan to Oklahama City and to Belgium and to Spain, and decimating the global economy.” Can such a notorious nation be ever trusted? Certainly not!
Ostensibly, the writing on the wall is clear. Chinese can never be trusted. A snake can still be trusted as it may turn out to be non-poisonous also but China is full of poison and venom against not just India but even its own people where it rules by force and can never be trusted under any circumstances! The Galwan incident in which we lost 20 soldiers is the first such killings on the Sino-Indian border in 45 years. India has done the right thing by now removing all restrictions on soldiers of not opening fire as China has betrayed us most cruelly and most wrongly! Chinese soldiers fear Indians and this we saw when how the 1967 Nathu La conflict between India and China which started with pushing and jostling before a Chinese soldier opened fire and shot dead the Indian Commanding Officer. Indian forces retaliated very hard and we killed 340 soldiers of China but they could kill only 88 of our soldiers!
In conclusion, the bottom-line from this latest dastardly incident is: Trust a snake but not China. It is China which is the root cause of all aggression directed by small neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Nepal against India! China intruded more than 600 times when Dr Manmohan Singh was PM and we lost more than 700 km. Overall, India lost more than 43,00 square km area in Congress rule which was catastrophic! Additionally no roads and no infrastructure were developed in border areas in last more than 70 years about which even former Defence Minister AK Antony of Congress party itself had lamented! We must highlight the nefarious designs of China and its brutal killings of our soldiers in all international forums and just like this time our soldiers ensured that Chinese soldiers and officers were killed in future also soldiers must have full freedom to open fire and this is what Centre has done now very commendably!
On a concluding note, it is high time and we must now stop showing extra generosity towards China. It was India under Jawaharlal Nehru as PM who when America offered it a permanent seat in Security Council offered it instead to China due to which we have suffered immeasurably! What did we get in return? Backstabbed most grievously by the unprovoked 1962 Chinese well planned unprovoked invasion on India! Chinese’s sole and firm opposition till now in 2020 for India getting a permanent seat in UN Security Council and membership of India in Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)! The only silver lining in the dark cloud is that the present dispensation has clearly manifested that it will not kowtow before it as had happened earlier for which it must be commended and not condemned!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.