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Don�t take things on face value: Lt Gen Shekhatkar

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, March 25 � Though India should keep its diplomatic channels with

China open, the Government of India should never accept the assurances of the Government of China on issues like diversion of the water of the river Brahmaputra, providing help to the militant groups involved in waging war against India, etc. on face value, observed former GOC of the 4 corps of the Army, Lt Gen (Retd) DB Shekhatkar.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Lt Gen Shekhatkar, who has been closely monitoring the developments along the border with China for years, said that over the years, the attention of the Government of India is towards the threat from Pakistan, but China can very well become a bigger threat to the security of India and the country cannot afford to have blind faith on China and on any other country for that matter. �I am not saying that efforts to improve diplomatic ties with China should not continue, but at the same time, China should not be trusted on face value considering the recent activities of the Government of that country,� he added.

On the issue of possible diversion of the river Brahmaputra, Lt Gen Shekhatkar said that the Chinese assurance in this regard should not be taken on face value. He pointed out that China is a country which manages to ensure implementation any decision once it is taken and if the water of the river Brahmaputra is diverted, it would have serious consequences for India, particularly Assam. He said that India should start planning now as to how possible diversion of the Brahmaputra can be thwarted and if necessary, steps should be taken to put international pressure on China in this regard. There are reports that China is facing food scarcity and to meet the demand, the country would need water in the fields and under such a situation, possibility of diversion of the Brahmaputra in the days to come cannot be ruled out.

The retired Army officer pointed out that in recent times, China is spreading its bases in the countries surrounding India. The economy of Myanmar is virtually controlled by China, while China has strong bases in Pakistan, occupied Kashmir (POK). The Government of China has started helping Pakistan to build a port at Gawadar located, north of Karachi and the country would also build highway and railway lines from the port to Sanghai. These are all projects relating to economic development, but the same can also be used for movement of army personnel in case of a war with India, he pointed out and said that both China and Pakistan are not very favourable to India and a close watch on the situation must be maintained. China already built up massive infrastructure in Tibet and all along the border with India. All these projects can be termed as part of economic development but India must keep a close watch on the developments, he added.

On the reports of China helping the militant groups of North East, Lt Gen Shekhatkar said that it is now an established fact that leaders of different militant outfits of the region including leaders of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and NSCN visited that country frequently. "It is obvious that they did not go to China as tourists and by giving shelter to those involved in waging war against India, China has made its intentions very clear. Over the years, the security forces have been recovering weapons having Chinese markings on those from the militant groups of North East and though China has been denying reports of helping the militants, the denials should not be taken on face value.

India must remember that Pakistan was building up Army bases in Kargil at a time when the then Prime Minister of India took a bus ride to Pakistan to improve relations between the two countries," he said.

Lt Gen Shekhatkar also said that the Government of India is not serious on the issue of settling border disputes with China. He pointed out that

India has been claiming that the Indian citizens in the six disputed areas in Arunachal Praresh would never be affected but, unfortunately, very few people know that there is hardly any population in those disputed areas. China has always been playing pressure tactics with India on the issue of settling the border disputes and now it seems that India would never be able to recover 38,000 square kilometers of land in possession of China in Ladakh.

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Don�t take things on face value: Lt Gen Shekhatkar

GUWAHATI, March 25 � Though India should keep its diplomatic channels with

China open, the Government of India should never accept the assurances of the Government of China on issues like diversion of the water of the river Brahmaputra, providing help to the militant groups involved in waging war against India, etc. on face value, observed former GOC of the 4 corps of the Army, Lt Gen (Retd) DB Shekhatkar.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Lt Gen Shekhatkar, who has been closely monitoring the developments along the border with China for years, said that over the years, the attention of the Government of India is towards the threat from Pakistan, but China can very well become a bigger threat to the security of India and the country cannot afford to have blind faith on China and on any other country for that matter. �I am not saying that efforts to improve diplomatic ties with China should not continue, but at the same time, China should not be trusted on face value considering the recent activities of the Government of that country,� he added.

On the issue of possible diversion of the river Brahmaputra, Lt Gen Shekhatkar said that the Chinese assurance in this regard should not be taken on face value. He pointed out that China is a country which manages to ensure implementation any decision once it is taken and if the water of the river Brahmaputra is diverted, it would have serious consequences for India, particularly Assam. He said that India should start planning now as to how possible diversion of the Brahmaputra can be thwarted and if necessary, steps should be taken to put international pressure on China in this regard. There are reports that China is facing food scarcity and to meet the demand, the country would need water in the fields and under such a situation, possibility of diversion of the Brahmaputra in the days to come cannot be ruled out.

The retired Army officer pointed out that in recent times, China is spreading its bases in the countries surrounding India. The economy of Myanmar is virtually controlled by China, while China has strong bases in Pakistan, occupied Kashmir (POK). The Government of China has started helping Pakistan to build a port at Gawadar located, north of Karachi and the country would also build highway and railway lines from the port to Sanghai. These are all projects relating to economic development, but the same can also be used for movement of army personnel in case of a war with India, he pointed out and said that both China and Pakistan are not very favourable to India and a close watch on the situation must be maintained. China already built up massive infrastructure in Tibet and all along the border with India. All these projects can be termed as part of economic development but India must keep a close watch on the developments, he added.

On the reports of China helping the militant groups of North East, Lt Gen Shekhatkar said that it is now an established fact that leaders of different militant outfits of the region including leaders of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and NSCN visited that country frequently. "It is obvious that they did not go to China as tourists and by giving shelter to those involved in waging war against India, China has made its intentions very clear. Over the years, the security forces have been recovering weapons having Chinese markings on those from the militant groups of North East and though China has been denying reports of helping the militants, the denials should not be taken on face value.

India must remember that Pakistan was building up Army bases in Kargil at a time when the then Prime Minister of India took a bus ride to Pakistan to improve relations between the two countries," he said.

Lt Gen Shekhatkar also said that the Government of India is not serious on the issue of settling border disputes with China. He pointed out that

India has been claiming that the Indian citizens in the six disputed areas in Arunachal Praresh would never be affected but, unfortunately, very few people know that there is hardly any population in those disputed areas. China has always been playing pressure tactics with India on the issue of settling the border disputes and now it seems that India would never be able to recover 38,000 square kilometers of land in possession of China in Ladakh.

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