From last few days, India opposition leaders and some TV news channels are raising questions regarding, “Has China occupied Indian Territory in Ladakh?”. It is a critical issue which has not been discussed upon much in our news channels because, it probably raises uncomfortable questions. Recently Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak up and tell the truth to the country on whether China has occupied any Indian territory. Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram also used a satellite image to question the government over the border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.
The Indian government has not yet provided answers to these questions. But there are some reports and some sources, on the basis of which I will let you know more about the problem and we will try and find the possible answers to these questions. To understand more you first need to know about Line of Actual Control(LOC).
Line of Actual Control(LAC)
You might know that the border between Pakistan occupied Kashmir and India is called LOC- Line of Control. But the border between Chinese occupied Ladakh and India is called LAC- Line of Actual Control. LAC is the line between Aksai Chin and India and LOC is the line between PoK and India.
There are some critical differences between LOC and LAC. LOC is very clearly defined. Both Pakistan and India are aware of where the boundary line actually is. But the LAC line is not clearly defined that means Demarcated. So, LOC is demarcated while LAC is not.
Both China and India claim that the LAC is in different places. Both the countries have different perceptions about where the LAC actually lies. Due to the different claims by both the countries, there is an overlapping territory between them.
As you can see in this diagram, the Indian territory is represented by blue, the undisputed territory, which even the Chinese concede is Indian and the undisputed Chinese territory is marked in red. The Indian claim line is the blue dotted line and the Chinese claim line is the red dotted line. These are the lines that China and India claim to be their borders. The area that lies in between becomes the Grey Area. Grey Area is referred to as Area of Differing Perception (ADPA).
As you can see in this diagram, the Indian territory is represented by blue, the undisputed territory, which even the Chinese concede is Indian and the undisputed Chinese territory is marked in red. The Indian claim line is the blue dotted line and the Chinese claim line is the red dotted line. These are the lines that China and India claim to be their borders.
The area that lies in between becomes the Grey Area. Grey Area is referred to as Area of Differing Perception (ADPA). This grey area isn’t a large area. Near Pangong lake in Ladakh, the Grey area there covers only about 10 kilometres in length, and no one resides there. Before the development of this situation, there weren’t any posts of the Indian army or the Chinese army. Both the Indian and the Chinese army merely patrolled that area. This is the reason, why there were clashes and conflicts between both the armies when they came patrolling. These clashes used to recur between the two armies every 2-3 years, and they happened because of these grey areas.
Ever since the Indian army has upgraded its equipment and improved its infrastructure over the past years. The Indian Army increased the frequency of its patrols. This is the reason why the conflicts and confrontations with the Chinese army have also increased. Whenever this happens, the media on both sides report of an Intrusion of the Indian/Chinese army on their soil. Things like these keep on recurring. But the situation today is more serious that these regular and minor skirmishes.
Has China occupied Indian Territory?
It is believed that the conflict ongoing today started on 5th May and it was reported for the first time on 12th May by the Economic Times. This entire situation is happening in Pangong Lake- which is a lake in Ladakh. It is a very long lake- around 130 kilometres in length and its breadth is around 5 kilometres. Around 60% of the area of this lake falls within Chinese occupied territory and the Line of Actual Control passes through this lak
If you take a look at the map, there are pointed edges protruding in the norther side of the Pangong Lake. The pointed edges are called “fingers” of the lake. Starting from the left/West side, these fingers have been named Finger 1, Finger 2, Finger 3 and so on.
India claims that the LAC lies in the Finger 8 area. China claims that the LAC lies in the Finger 4 area. The Grey Zone that we read about earlier lies in between Finger 4 and Finger 8 on the map. Talking about the ongoing problem, it was said on 4th-5th May that Chinese troops had reached till Finger 5 while patrolling and this led to a conflict.
Talking about the second conflict, it was reported that between 10th and 11th of May, the Chinese troops reached Finger 4 while patrolling and this led to stone pelting. A fist fight broke out between Indian and Chinese troops in which 11 people got injured.
The third conflict was also reported between 15th and 16th of June, after a total of 20 Indian Army personnel were killed during a violent clash with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.
If we talk about tensions and Chinese intrusions today is not just about one place. But three different places. The first area is Pangong Lake. The second area is Galwan River Valley in Ladakh. And the third area is Hot Springs near Kongka Pass.
1. Situation at Pangong Lake Sector:
As per the report , China has physically occupied the Pangong lake area upto finger 5 and have stationed themselves there. They have brought in arms and are preparing trenches and their stations. The Chinese Army have occupied that area completely. There are around 4,000-5,000 Chinese soldiers in the area between Finger 4 and Finger 8. And this is a distance of 4 kilometres. This is the Indian territory that they have occupied.
According to opinion of Retd LT. Genreal H S Panag on the Print Media. The area between Finger 4 and Finger 8 has been occupied by China which came under the “grey area”, even though India’s claim was up till finger 8. China has moved into the area claimed by India. According to him, there is an area of about 35-40 square kilometres and China has stationed around 1-2 battalions.
He also believes that the journalists that are “misinterpreting” these Fingers and are basically saying that it cannot be said that Chinese have occupied Indian territory. These journalists are basically playing into China’s hands. They are favoring China by denying that China has moved into the territory claimed by India.
2. Situation at Galwan River Valley Sector:
The situation is the worst in Galwan. The area between Finger 4 and Finger 8 is a tiny area which does not dominate any area further and the occupation of which does not yield a lot of benefits to the Chinese soldiers on the military front. But they are going to reap a huge benefit on the military front in Galwan. By coming into the Galwan valley and stationing themselves on the Galwan heights, the 255km road that has been laid until Daulat Beg Oldi from Shyok and Darbuk which travels northward towards Daulat Beg Oldi. The Chinese soldiers that have moved into the Galwan Valley. They are in a strategically beneficial position as they can overlook that road. They can use artillery and cannons to fire on it and if they want to stop India from making use of this road, then they can easily do so.
Because the intrusion in Galwan is the most dangerous H S Panag ji has also pointed out in his article that the area of the Galwan river valley has been breached into by China and they have occupied around 2-3 kilometres of area at a height Around two Chinese battalions are present at a height, which is a huge disadvantage for India. It becomes easier to attack lower terrain if one is situated at a height.
Galwan was an area where both the Indian and the Chinese soldiers did not get into conflicts. The claim lines of both of them was approximately the same. Chinese claim line in Ladakh was separate from Galwan. So by coming in here, the Chinese soldiers have violated their own claim line.
3. Hot Springs Sector:
At Hot Springs/Gogra, the PLA with nearly a battalion has almost surrounded the post and effectively denied the approach to Kongka La pass, which lies on the LAC but is not held by us. The aim here is to prevent road construction by India to the Kongka La pass. At Hot Springs and Kongka La, which is 4-5 km away from Hot Springs,there is no “differing perception” about the LAC.
China is only pressing for the third region- the Hot springs region, in order to divert the focus of the Indian soldiers and to disturb them. But they will get no strategic benefit by encroaching here. Neither have they captured much land, nor is there a military benefit as in the case of Galwan.
Lt. General Rameshwar Roy has said that we should not compare this situation with the earlier situations. The situation today is far grimmer. Col Malkiat has said that this situation is basically like “Chinese Kargil”. This situation is that critical KJS Arora said that this is a loss of national pride and it is extremely shameful how some politicians are trying to douse the situation by giving us the excuse of different perceptions and are not admitting that India has actually lost territory to the hands of China
So, to answer the question “Has China occupied Indian Territory in Ladakh?”. Yes, China has occupied few Indian Territories. They are at a very good situation as they have occupied the high end Places.
Why is China making such intrusions?
There are many different theories for this by different experts. Some say that China is inculcating nationalist sentiments within its own country in order to divert the attention of the people from the state of the economy which has crashed due to COVID 19. Others deny this and say that the reason is that China is threatened by the road India is constructing and China wants the construction of the road to stop.And India is denied the strategic advantage that it would otherwise get.
Impeding the road construction is an instrument,an advantage, a military tool that they have got. But why they want to stop the construction of the road is extremely important. According to many experts, when India changed the status of Kashmir on 5th Aug last year and changed the status of Ladakh as well. When it was made into a union territory by India from being a portion of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. When India said that Aksai Chin- which has been occupied by China is also a part of it, this made China feel that India is unilaterally changing the status of this entire area.
This was not at all liked by them and now they want to show that if you can change the status unilaterally. China is basically trying to show that it is a global power and that they will resort to arbitrariness if they so wish to. They believes that it is the kind of superpower that it can pursue Chinese interests on multiple fronts simultaneously. China is in a very arrogant mind-frame right now. India, which is a quite powerful and stable country. China is also trying to display that India cannot meddle with it and that they can take steps against India if they so wish to.
Our government has made no clear-cut communication with its citizenry during this entire situation. In an interview, Rajnath Singh ji said that Chinese have come into Indian territory in sizeable numbers. When the video went viral, some people began to share it as an admission by the Defense Minister. Then PIB brought out a “fact check” and the government denied it, saying that Rajnath Singh meant something else.
BJP leadership of India is not able to take some stern steps. But it does not want to show the public that it is adopting some other ways in front of China. That’s why, they have maintained right from the start that China has done nothing at all. They say that China merely occupied a small portion of the disputed are for a while, after which they left. The tune that Pakistan adopted during the surgical strikes and during the time of Balakot, that India said nothing. They’re merely lying that they came. Similarly, the BJP leadership is adopting the same approach against China right now.
Our ambassador is in talks with the Chinese foreign Ministry in our embassy in Beijing. A border mechanism has been prepared by both the sides to resolve any border disputed that arise. Talks are also happening on the border mechanism front. there is a military to military talk as well. The government is attempting to keep the spotlight on the military to military talks. So, that they can foist the blame on the military later. But there are talks ongoing on all three levels- diplomatic, military and political.It is yet to be seen what progress will be made and on what level.
This leadership, in a way, is forfeiting its own territory. Some experts believe that not telling everything to the citizens is a good strategy by the government. Otherwise, it would lead to a lot of pressure being mounted on the government from the opposition and the people to take action in one direction. If the government does not divulge a lot of information to the people, then it would have more available options of how to address the situation.
Maybe they would want to let go off an area. But if they let the public know, there is so much nationalist sentiment within the people today that they would they take the government to task. It would then mount pressure upon the government to retaliate to China in the same manner that it adopts. Lt. Gen. H S Panag maintain that, if the government is denying this information to the public, then it is basically playing into the hands of China.
In other hand, China is still behaving boisterously and that it is not ready to take even a single step backwards. They maintain that the land that they have occupied is Chinese territory and it has always been Chinese territory, and it will always remain so.
Comment your thoughts on this? What do you think, India should do in this Situation?