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'An honourable army doesn't fight with stones, batons, spikes'

By ARCHANA MASIH
June 18, 2020 09:38 IST
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'I am ashamed we are dealing with such adversaries.'

IMAGE: 20 Indian soldiers were murdered by People's Liberation Army troops on the night of June 15, 2020 in the Galwan Valley, Ladakh. Photograph: PTI Photo

"Fighting with dandas, batons and spikes is going back to medieval warfare. Mature nations with professional armies do not act this way," former Ladakh Corps Commander Lieutenant General Rakesh Sharma (retd) tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih in the concluding part of a two-part interview.

It was always said that the Line of Actual Control with China was peaceful compared to the Line of Control with Pakistan, but all that has changed now.

I disagree. There have been incidents of fist-cuffs and fights a number of times in the last 7, 8 years on the LAC. Sometimes, they come to light in the media and many times they don't.

We have seen visuals of jostling and pushing in the past. It has been gradually rising.

The level has escalated several notches higher in the past month. What happened on June 15 is one more escalation in the new normal.

There is lot of anguish in the Indian Army about the loss of lives of the commanding officer and men. The position of a commanding officer is sacrosanct.

He is the most important person in the entire machinery of the Indian Army because he commands troops and runs the organisation. The loss of a CO brings great pain to a unit.

 

IMAGE: Indian soldiers stand guard at the Zojila Pass on the way to Ladakh. Photograph: PTI Photo

One had thought the PLA was a professional army and not crude like the Pakistan army, but the Chinese have showed themselves to be as brutal and crude as the Pakistanis.

I agree that this is not how mature armies behave. I am not even sure if these troops were PLA or border guards or some paramilitary force. Though the border guards operate under the PLA.

Throwing stones, using baton, spikes, knuckle-dusters doesn't speak well of an honourable army.

I am ashamed that we are dealing with such adversaries.

We don't want war, but if war is thrust upon us, so be it. But it surely shouldn't be with knuckle-dusters and spikes.

There are conflicting reports about how much territory the Chinese have ingressed into. What is your view on that?

In my view, the LAC crosses the Galwan nala some distance away from the Shyok river junction. It is incorrect when people say that the Chinese are at the junction of the Galwan nala and Shyok river.

The incident on June 15 took place on our side. To say that they have come down and are dominating the road is incorrect.

The view that they are on higher reaches on either side of the nala and occupying defensive positions is also not correct from the information that has come in.

It is possible that they are across the LAC, we don't know their exact location, but they need to withdraw 1 to 3 km in the Galwan area.

In Pangong Tso, they are 7 to 8 km inside our territory along the road. It is a road that crosses Finger 8 and comes to Finger 4.

Finger 8 is our LAC and they claim Finger 4 is their LAC, which is around 4 km away from Finger 8.

In my opinion, they have moved ahead in a road space and are not budging.

Photograph: PTI Photo

Will the Chinese withdraw or is this going to be their entrenched position?

I hope we will reach a discussion and they withdraw because we have been unable to resolved the LAC at a diplomatic level. It has not happened in 30 years and one does not expect it to happen now.

We are very convinced that our line is right and our troops dominate it. The Chinese should move back and we should decide a system to dominate one line.

If we have to go Finger 8 or Finger 4, we should have a time table when we patrol it and on separate days the Chinese do the same, so that there is no confrontation till the time the boundary is sorted out.

This way the troops and tactical units on ground can carry out the tasks entrusted to them.

The confidence building measures laid down to deal with situations when patrols came face to face and retreat through banner drills has failed.

We should sit across the table and decide a system.

Fighting with dandas, batons and spikes is going back to medieval warfare.

Mature, historical, cultural nations with professional armies do not act this way.

India is a nation with a standing of its own. We don't want war, we want disengagement, but it has to be in a respectful way.

I hope the discussions taking place result in disengagement and a mechanism is found on how to manage the LAC on the ground by both the armies.

Production: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

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