With the unravelling of China’s moves on June 17, transgressing yet again into Indian territory and disrupting monitoring mechanism placed by the Indian Army, the security set up in New Delhi went into a huddle. However it was the location, Zhipugi La in Jammu and Kashmir’s Chumar sector, chosen for the transgression that is of utmost interest.
Unlike a majority of areas along the 4,000 km long Line Of Actual Control (LAC) as perceived by India, Chumar is one sector where the Chinese do not enjoy the benefit of access. The reason for that is the lack of road development and terrain which acts as an impediment for the former. It is not that the Indian side has it all developed but owing to the presence of dirt tracks and a not-so rocky terrain means vehicles can move.
From Demchok in the north to Chumar in the south, the movement is not very difficult for us. But for the Chinese troops, perhaps used to double lane highways almost along the entire length of LAC the road seems too ardous.
An officer aware of the ground situation said, “The entire region, on both sides of the border is a plateau, very similar to the Aksai Chin area in the vicinity. But it is a fact that we have better access, connectivity and reach than the Chinese to their side.”
And perhaps it is that reason which is making the People’s Liberation Army nervous. Experts told this correspondent that they wouldn’t disagree if the PLA felt that a thrust into China-held territories could be launched from Chumar sector, in case of war.
Last year, PLA men were detained by an Indian Army patrol when they ventured too deep into Indian territory. Also the PLA has objected to road construction on the Indian side of LAC in the same sector.
Lt. Gen (Retd) Dr. DB Shekatkar, GOC 4 Corps which looks at the entire Arunachal Pradesh border, said, “It is correct that the terrain in Chumar favours us. I believe it is China’s game plan to keep concentrating on harassing us at Chumar to show to us how little the advantage means. They are taking extra steps just to somehow prove that point.”
General Shekatkar who was also a member of the Indo-China Joint Working Group of settling the border issue pointed to a larger design. “China always mentions the LAC as a historical problem and is not in favour of a speedy resolution. Subsequently they intrude newer areas so that when we do come to resolution they can keep adding newer areas under the disputed territory tag. By repeating a lie, the Chinese want to convince everyone of it being the truth.”
The Defence Ministry’s Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses had an interesting take. Its senior fellow and Chinese specialist, Dr. R.N. Das termed the incident ‘unfortunate’ and said that it exposed the disconnect between the political leadership in China and that of the PLA.
However, fact is that, in China, the political head, the President also heads the top military body, Central Military Commission thereby countering the argument of disconnect.