India, China plan additional border meeting points to boost peace along LAC


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By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury,ET Bureau | Jul 2, 2015

In a major confidence-building measure India and China have agreed for additional border meeting points in the Ladakh region along the LAC.

NEW DELHI: In what could be a major Confidence Building Measure (CBM) India and China have agreed for additional border meeting points to build mutual confidence for reducing transgressions in Ladakh region along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Following the Prime Minister’s recent visit to China, the Indian and Chinese militaries have agreed to establish one more Border Personal Meeting (BMP) point in the Ladakh region In order to further strengthen the mechanism for ensuring peace along the LAC. This landmark move is aimed at resolving local border issues in the face of growing transgressions along the 800 km Ladakh border.

Government sources well versed with the creation of BMP told ET that this initiative is aimed at creating CBM for maintaining peace along the LAC in Ladakh sector where transgressions have become frequent in recent years.

The first step towards this CBM was discussed at the 18th Special Representative meeting for boundary in Delhi earlier this year, sources recalled. This was further discussed when Modi visited China in May, sources indicated. The PM may again meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Russia on sidelines of BRICS Summit next week.

Sources said BMPs would ensure regular meetings between militaries of two sides to deal with transgression issue at the ground level before it is discussed between officials at the two capitals. “The idea is to deal with transgression issue at ground level locally before any incident snowballs into major issue of contention,” a source remarked.

According to sources the meeting point will be located close to the Depsang plains, in Northern Ladakh, that was also the scene of a major three-week face off between the Indian army and People’s Liberation Army in April 2013. A similar type of transgression in Chumar occurred when Xi visited India last September surprising the hosts and, even the Chinese President according to some quarters. The face-off was resolved after both sides withdrew from respective positions after almost a month.

Other CBMs to address transgressions along LAC include Border Defence Cooperation Agreement and Joint Secretary level mechanism between two Foreign Ministries.

The LAC in Ladakh is witness to regular transgressions by the PLA often leading to stand offs with the Indian Army and ITBP soldiers. As per Ministry of Home Affairs data, between 2010 and 2014 there have been 1612 transgressions on the LAC. Minister of State for Home Kirren Rijju In a written reply to a Rajya Sabha question last year attributed the cases of transgression to difference of perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). A majority of these are in the Ladakh sector.

“In terms of strategic relevance Ladakh is considered more sensitive and thus sees many more transgressions as compared to the Eastern sector”, a senior military official told ET.

As reported by ET earlier an unprecedented flurry of Border Personal Meetings had been held prior to Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s visit to China in May this year to ensure the border remains peaceful during his visit.

According to sources it had been felt for some time that a single meeting point for an almost 800 km border sometimes hinders quick resolution of local border incidents.

The setting up of a second meeting in the Ladakh region will go a long way in resolving this shortcoming. Along with the meeting point it has also been decided to establish a telephone hotline contact between the local commanders in the area.

Currently India has two meeting points with the Chinese, one in the Chushsul area of Ladakh and another in Bumla in the Eastern sector. However according to military officials, it is the Ladakh region that remains a major bone of contention along the India-China border.

The mutual perception of over 4,000-km-long LAC differs. While India wants clarification of LAC to begin at the earliest, the Chinese fear that after clarification this will be de jure boundary. The Chinese suggested Code of Conduct along LAC but India has reservations against it as this will prevent new infrastructure building by Delhi along LAC.

 

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