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India which is already bogged down by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic as its economy is into a ‘meltdown’, right now is in quite a piquant position as the likelihood of a conflict now only on Line of Actual Control (China) but a conflict on Line of Control (Pakistan) is almost waiting to happen. Going by the details, it has come out that a fresh clash between China and India happened on August 29, 2020, in which one soldier of Tibetan origin of Special Frontier Force (SFF) has died and around 30 soldiers from the China side have been injured. The number of injured from the Indian side are now known. ‘The Indian Army maintains (a) deafening silence regarding the Special Frontier Force, which is a covert specially-trained paramilitary unit based in Chakrata, near Dehradun, in Uttrakhand, northern India. It was established after the Indo-China war in 1962’ 1.  Ironically, it is at this time, where the second flare-up has happened (the first had taken place on June 15, 2020 when India lost 20 soldiers)  that Indian defense minister Rajnath Singh met his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe on September 4, 2020 in Moscow, on the sidelines of the joint meeting of the heads of defense ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Moscow. This meetings came ‘in backdrop of tension between the two countries flaring up after India in a preemptive move occupied around two dozen peaks in Southern banks of Pangong Tso and Spanggur gap. There is a high tension in Chushul sector as China is angry with India’s preemptive move with both armies near to each other in the sector. The meeting lasted for 2 hours and 20 minute. Reports hints that the Indian delegation strongly objected to the PLA’s fresh attempts to change the status quo in the southern bank of Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh and emphasized on the resolution of the standoff through talks’ 2.

Exactly the same has been echoed by the Indian army chief NM Naravane who was on his visit to Ladakh and said that the situation is tense and that he believed talks can help resolve the situation 3 but the talks turned-out to be a further deadlock as has happened in the recent past. Going by what had happened inside the meeting, it can easily be said that the talks ‘failed’, yet Rajnath Singh visit had to be shown a success, and hence, a breaking-news went across all news channels that Russia has pledged not to supply arms to Pakistan. The report published in The Economic Times on September 4, 2020, suggest that Rajnath Singh and Russian defense minister Sergey Shoigu discussed how to expedite the establishment of AK203 assault rifles factory in Amethi (UP).  It added further ‘India’s time-tested partner has also assured it that it will follow a policy of ‘no arms supply to Pakistan’, following India’s request’ 4.  What matters here is to seek for the veracity of the claim as The Eurasian Times, which keeps a keen-eye on defense news, although carried the headline ‘No weapons to Pakistan Russia assures India ‘ 5  but no where carried any reference to the snippet published in The Economic Times.

What would merit here is that such frivolous news-coverage is only for the naives to buy, as was there any such stand or a statement issued from Russian foreign minister or foreign office?, whereas, perhaps, the reality is that Russia might find a better future with Pakistan, as Russia knows that India has gone too ahead with US and Israel, and that US sanctions on India for not to buy-weapons from Russia, might be coming sooner if not later. As for the inside-account as to what had happened between Rajnath Singh and Wei Fenghe, has come out on September 5, 2020 published in South China Morning Post. Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe had blamed India for conflicts in recent months. ‘“The cause and truth of the current tension on the border are very clear, with the responsibility lying entirely with India,”’ he said to Singh. India has not released a statement about the talks. The article from SCMP informs that “China cannot lose one inch of its territory. The Chinese military is fully determined, capable, and confident of safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Wei had said. He also called on India not to fuel tension by further provocations and negative publicity’ 6.  China is keeping an eye on media machinations in India too.  What however, has made the Indian position so extremely awkward is the statement of PM Modi on June 20, 2020 that no one intruded into India’s territory 7, and going by what has been reported in The Deccan Chronicle it is clear that India went inside Chinese territory, and now surprisingly,  so as to add more flare-up, that too when the meeting was in progress, the Chinese army is claimed to have abducted five-youths from Arunachal Pradesh(AP) inside India.

China it is now pretty much known to have been encircling India, in Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Uttrakhand. Congress Party MLA ‘Ninong Ering from AP has claimed that five people have been abducted by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Ninong Ering also said that the five people had gone for fishing when they were abducted by the Chinese Army  from Sera 7 area under Upper Subansiri district along the India-China border in AP. Speaking to India Today TV, Ninong Ering said the Chinese Army has started incursions in Arunachal Pradesh after Ladakh and Doklam ( Indo-Bhutan border). The Congress lawmaker also claimed that the Chinese have crossed the LAC’ 8 . Such small-small events happen on daily basis at borders across whole of the world, but owing to the escalated position between China and India, it is surely to add more fuel to the fire.

In the fast developing situation The Eurasian Times, reported a headline on September 5, 2020 that ‘As Talks Hits A Dead-End, Can China Forcefully Remove Indian Troops From ‘Commanding Heights’ In Ladakh? Following what was the second major clash at the Pangong Tso region along the border, between the Indian and Chinese troops, the Indian Army cruised to occupying strategic heights of the South Bank of the lake. The armed forces blocked Chinese troops from carrying out what they said was “provocative military movements” in the region. Now, the word in China is that the usage of such military measures by the Indian defense forces along with the decision to deploy warships in the South China Sea region in close coordination with the US is a grave miscalculation, and “India will stand no chance of winning” if a border war ensues between the two nations. This is the opinion of the Global Times, a daily newspaper under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’ 9 .

Perhaps, this Rajnath-Wei meeting should never have happened as may be the chance to defuse the situation seem to have been washed-out and a war-with-India seem imminent. But, China is equally making an effort to counsel India to take stock of its media-nationalism as Global Times Opinion article on September 5, 2020, very clearly has marked that the ‘Indian public opinion is too deeply and widely involved in border issues. The Indian troop has been obviously kidnapped by domestic nationalism.  Therefore, in addition to the joint control of the border dispute between China and India, India should also manage public opinion and nationalism, and make the best choice for its country and its people; 10 . Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi are slated to meet India’s external minister S Jaishanker on September 10, 2020. Lets see if then some wisdom prevails. Meanwhile, it might be of interest for media to probe if Russia really did say ‘no’ to Pakistan?

The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner. He writes on international politics.

References:

1-https://eurasiantimes.com/30-chinese-soldiers-injured-in-black-top-clashes-in-ladakh-one-indian-solder-dead-tibet-media/

2-https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/050920/rajnath-singh-meets-his-chinese-counterpart-in-moscow-amid-border-tens.html

3- https://in.reuters.com/article/india-china/india-army-chief-says-talks-can-resolve-border-row-with-china-idINKBN25V0PL

4- https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/rajnath-singhs-moscow-visit-russia-pledges-not-to-supply-arms-to-pakistan/articleshow/77922617.cms

5- https://eurasiantimes.com/no-weapons-to-pakistan-russia-assures-india-of-no-business-with-islamabad-at-moscow-meet/

6- https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3100359/india-blame-border-tensions-chinese-defence-chief-wei-fenghe

7- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/neither-has-anyone-intruded-into-indian-territory-nor-has-anyone-taken-over-any-post-pm-modi/articleshow/76470868.cms

8- https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/chinese-army-abduct-5-villagers-arunachal-pradesh-congress-mla-ninong-ering-1718843-2020-09-05

9- As Talks Hits A Dead-End, Can China Forcefully Remove Indian Troops From ‘Commanding Heights’ In Ladakh?

1-https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1199965.shtml


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