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Tensions along the Line of Actual Control

  • 20 September, 2020

  • 5 Min Read

Tensions along the Line of Actual Control

Context:

  • Defence Minister’s statement in the Parliament on the border tensions between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • Given the differing perceptions of the LAC between India and China, a series of boundary agreements have been signed and confidence-building measures (CBMs) carried out to maintain peace and tranquillity while the two sides attempted to delineate the boundary through Special Representatives.

Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity,1993 agreement:

  • The 1993 agreement states that in case personnel from either side cross the Line of Actual Control, “upon being cautioned by the other side, they shall immediately pull back to their side of the Line of Actual Control”.
  • The 1993 agreement, clearly states that both sides will “jointly check” the alignment of LAC where there is a doubt.

1996 agreement:

  • It is also known as the Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas.
  • A key element of the 1996 agreement is that the two sides would keep their forces in the areas along the LAC to a minimum level.
  • The 1996 agreement limits the deployment of major categories of armaments close to the LAC, including tanks, infantry combat vehicles, guns with 75-mm or bigger calibre, mortars with 120-mm or above and various missiles. It also limits combat aircraft from flying within 10 km of the LAC.
  • Use of firearms on the LAC is strictly regulated as per the agreements of 1993, 1996 and 2005.
  • The 1993 and 1996 agreements also mandate that pending a final solution to the boundary question, the two sides shall strictly respect the LAC.

2013 agreement:

  • It is also known as the Border Defense Cooperation Agreement between India and China.
  • The agreement enumerates several mechanisms to reduce misunderstandings and improve communications between the two countries along their disputed border.
  • It explicitly prohibits one side from actively following or tailing the patrols of another side and also stipulates procedures for resolving disputes in “areas where there is no common understanding of the line of actual control.”

Issues with China:

1. China’s non adherence to agreements:

  • China’s track record on adhering to agreed CBMs and protocols on the LAC has been poor in the past few years more so in the ongoing confrontation.
  • As against the provisions of the 1993 agreement, China has unilaterally altered the status quo at the LAC and has built structures and stationed its troops despite cautionary warnings.
  • China had mobilised a large number of troops and armaments along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and this goes against the bilateral agreements of 1993 and 1996.
  • The Violence in Galwan raises doubts whether Chinese troops followed this protocol set out by the 2013 India-China Border Defence Cooperation Agreement in which both sides agreed “to not follow or tail patrols”.

2. Risk of escalation:

  • Since the Galwan Valley clash, the Indian Army has empowered its local commanders to take appropriate action as situations unfold and recently shots have been fired in the air, the first on the LAC since 1975.
  • Thousands of troops and armaments continue to be deployed in close proximity, in some places within a few hundred metres of each other, so the chances of an accidental or inadvertent escalation which can spiral into a major confrontation remain high.

Way forward:

  • There is the urgent need to review the agreements and conclude new CBMs to maintain and enhance peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

 

 

Source: TH

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