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Settling border disputes with China to take time

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, Sept 21 � Though India and China recently agreed to solve the border disputes amicably, it may take some time before the disputes are settled. Meanwhile, a suitable mechanism should be evolved by both the countries to avoid face-offs between their Army personnel.

These were the observations made by Brigadier (retd) Ranjit Barthakur.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Brig Barthakur, who worked in the China desk of the Indian Army for a long time, said that incursions by the Chinese Army are quite common and annually around 300 such incidents take place. Sometimes, the patrol parties of India also enter the Chinese territory because of absence of a clearly demarcated border. But the problem is that the incursions from the Chinese side increase whenever a senior leader of China visits India or any senior leader from India visits China, he pointed out. The most common point of incursion is the Pangong Lake in Ladakh, half of which falls in China.

Brig Barthakur said that on most occasions, such incursions into each other�s territory are settled at the local level and there is a mechanism of making announcements over microphone whenever such incursions are noticed. But on some occasions face-offs between the Army personnel of both the sides take place and those issues are settled at the flag meetings and sometimes at the diplomatic level. Some areas have been accepted by both the countries as disputed locations but sometimes, Army personnel venture into such areas, apparently to stake claim over the area during talks on borders, he pointed out.

The former Army officer pointed out that finding a permanent solution to the border disputes would take some time and even the maps of all the sectors are yet to be exchanged. He said the border with China is divided broadly into three sectors and so far, only the maps of the central sector have been exchanged. At this rate, it will take some time before both the countries come to an agreement on the border, he said.

On the threat perception from China, Brig Barthakur said that though no bullet was fired along the international border with China since 1986, India should remain careful. He expressed the view that stress should be given on infrastructure development so that troops can be moved to the border quickly in case of any eventuality. At the same time, intelligence gathering should be improved so that India is fully aware of any troop movement from China. He admitted that intelligence gathering on Chinese activities is difficult because of the language barrier and efforts should be made to do away with the problem.

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