As the face-off between India and China continues in the newly formed Union Territory of Ladakh, Modi Government’s inability to deal with China comes to fore and the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) PR machinery is on the overdrive citing a change in the approach of dealing with China while status quo remains on the battleground. Ram Madhav, a Rashtriya Swayam Sewak (RSS) cadre and now seen as the BJP’s key troubleshooter, recently wrote an article in the Indian Express titled ‘China has changed tactics, not goals. India must demonstrate strong national power’ (June 18, 2020) claiming that China has nibbled into the Indian territory for decades.
“In the last four decades, China adopted the Sun Tzu formula of ‘the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting’. It has resorted to area expansion and domination tactics using numerical superiority and military aggression. It continued to nibble away at our territories through aggressive patrolling and continuous border violations,” writes Ram Madhav. He continues “That there have been no violent clashes between India and China in the last five decades can be partly attributed to India’s insistence on diplomatic engagement and physical disengagement. The result was that the contentious portions of the LAC, like the Galwan Valley and Pangong Tso lake formations, were patrolled by both sides without engaging with each other. During this period, the Chinese side had nibbled away at Indian territory in several places. Traditional grazing areas of the people of the upper reaches in Ladakh have been encroached.” He further claims “While the nibbling by China was ongoing, the Indian side preferred diplomatic engagement, entering as many as six bilateral agreements with China in 1988, 1993, 1996, 2005, 2012 and 2013.”
However, Ram Madhav conveniently omits that the majority of these pastures were lost under the Modi Government. As per an article ‘Ladakhis near LAC warned govt of Chinese encroachment, loss of pastures’ (19 June 2020) by Safeena Wani in a website called ‘The Federal’, “As far back as 2015, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) members and local representatives from Changthang in eastern Ladakh informed the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had encroached upon pasture land in the Changthang region traditionally used by nomadic communities… According to a letter written by the council members and local representatives to then home minister and current defence minister Rajnath Singh, the PLA had occupied agricultural land in the Chumoor area and had not shown any sign of withdrawing.” In another article titled ‘In the heartland of Changpas, brand ‘Ladakh’ battles Beijing’s belligerence‘ (19 June 2020) she quotes Nurgugu, a 35-year-old pastoralist from Ladakh’s Chushul hamlet in Changthang region “In the past decade, we have lost much of our grazing lands to Chinese incursions… Every year, these Chinese would encroach slowly, but this year, they have eaten away a major chunk of our pasture land in one go.”
A political slugfest has now arisen over the territorial loss by Narendra Modi government after the Galwan Valley clash leading to the martyrdom of our brave soldiers. Prime Minister Modi has unfortunately claimed, “Neither anyone has intruded into our territory nor taken over any post.” Soon after, China issued a statement laying claim to the entire Galwan Valley. Opposition Leader Rahul Gandhi has called PM Modi as ‘surrender Modi’ for losing ground to Chinese in Ladakh. BJP Leaders have called Rahul Gandhi pro-China and former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has indirectly advised PM Modi “Disinformation is no substitute for diplomacy or decisive leadership. And the truth cannot be suppressed by having pliant allies spout comforting but false statements”.
As Indian political leadership again fails India, the brave defence forces are being maligned by both parties to suit their petty ends. A former Northern Army Commander, Lt Gen DS Hooda, has criticized political statements about India regularly losing territory to China since they imply that the Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) soldiers posted there have been failing in their duties. “Unsubstantiated allegations that India has been regularly losing territory to China in Ladakh do grave injustice to the army and ITBP troops, and also deflect attention from current Chinese actions in Ladakh,” he wrote on News18 on July 1.
“Such statements mean that the Indian Army and the ITBP have been doing nothing and allowing China to come in. It hurts the morale of the soldiers who have been diligently performing their duties in inhospitable terrain and weather,” he said while talking to Frontier India.