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Border with China

Sir, - This refers to the article ``Defining India's China border'' by Lt. Gen. V. R. Raghavan (The Hindu, Nov. 9). The incident of 1986 in Arunachal Pradesh which the author refers to is a good example of the indecisive position of India with regard to the border with China.

The area in question was a grazing ground at Wangdung, on the Sumdorong river in a remote and far-flung area not far from the infamous Namka Chu of 1962. This was a grey area as far as ownership was concerned. Wangdung was literally a `no-go' area for the Indian Army. The army was debarred from patrolling the area under the premise that such patrolling might be too provocative and may invite military escalation by the Chinese.

The Government of India tried to maintain its legitimacy over Wangdung by sending our citizens to use Wangdung for grazing during the summers just as the Chinese do in other areas. The Chinese prevented this by pre-emptive occupation of Wangdung by a small army post. The build-up for the post was extraordinarily rapid and they used helicopters to stock the post. In the initial stages, India's military response was limited due to the lack of communications. It was fortunate for the country that the Corps Commander at the time, Lt. Gen. Narahari, was a great field commander, and the Divisional Commander at Tawang was a fibrebrand, Maj. Gen. J. M. Singh. It is also fortunate for the country that the Chief of the Army Staff was the hawkish Sundarji.

There were no connecting roads to Wangdung. As a result, guns could not be deployed to support any military action in this area (Bofors had not yet come to the Army). Lt. Gen. Narahari moved troops to the remote heights much against the directions of the Eastern Command. A track was blazed in the high mountains at breakneck speed to move troops and guns and for all the other logistic support for military action. Under resolute leadership troops occupied heights overlooking Wangdung and were in a position to punish the Chinese outpost if required. It is only after having assumed such a position of strength that the situation was defused, or else we could have had further creeping actions of the Chinese if we had reacted in the weak-kneed fashion that the Eastern Command had advocated.

In the absence of a joint agreement by India and China on either the border alignment or the Line of Actual Control (the LAC) there are a large number of pockets whose ownership is nebulous. This is so not only in Arunachal Pradesh but also in Ladakh, Bhutan and in parts of Uttar Pradesh, now the State of Uttaranchal.

There is definitely a need to press on the Chinese for a delineation of the LAC if not the international boundary. China has delineated the boundary with adjoining Burma (Myanmar). There is no reason why the same principles used to delineate the boundary between China and Myanmar should not be used for the Arunachal Pradesh-China border.

Ram Naidu,

Chennai

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