The situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was stable but in a state of “heightened alert” and to make sure that there was no irritant that was likely to become a violent situation, firstly at the lower level (battalion and brigade level), various channels of communication have been opened up. Also, the system of body push has been stopped to ensure that there was no physical contact, the GOC-in-C, Northern Command, Lt. Gen. Upendra Dwivedi, said on Friday.
Talking to journalists on the sidelines of a two-day North Tech Symposium at Udhampur, he stated that India now had “strategic patience” and was negotiating from a position of strength.
“We have regular hotline exchanges and we have stopped the system of body push etc and no physical contact is being ensured. Wherever there is an irritant, we immediately call for talks at the battalion and brigade level, sit down together and come to an amicable solution,” he said.
Display of technologies
At the symposium, over 160 Indian companies and start-ups are displaying a range of niche technologies that can be employed on the borders.
Pointing out that the situation on the LAC was in a state of heightened alert as ‘‘we don’t want a repeat of the situation of April 2020”, the Army Commander remarked, “As a result, the force and equipment deployments are calibrated in nature and we will make sure any misadventure by the adversary does not take place again.”
As far as the LAC was concerned, he observed that there were negotiations as the difference of perception of it had been there for very long. “Earlier, we used to say the Chinese have strategic patience and they are ready to wait. Now, India has come up a long way and we also have strategic patience and we are also ready to wait. It means we are now negotiating from the position of strength with assertiveness and the law of fair play. Therefore, if we are ready for a negotiation. If it is prolonged, we are going to wait. However, on the ground, as far as the operational preparedness is concerned, there will be no lapses, I can assure you.”
Difference of perception of LAC
On the difference of perception of the LAC, he noted these were required to be handled at the higher level - Corps Commander level and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) level, and these meetings were taking place regularly. The 15th round of Corps Commander talks took place on March 11 last. “Some kind of negotiation will move forward. Since these are long-standing issues, perceptional differences are there. The MEA is also involved with us, they will take their own time. We both need to have strategic patience.”
Asked about the proposal from the Chinese side during the talks, he said the stand had always been, as also stated officially by both sides, was that they must maintain peace and tranquillity along the border, negotiate instead of letting the violence level getting heightened again, and “both come half way.” “Now the issue is the perceptional difference of this half-way. Therefore, we are saying that firstly trust has to be built. The trust that was broken in April 2020 has to be rebuilt.”
On rebuilding trust, Lt. Gen. Dwivedi explained: “Let’s de-escalate, let’s withdraw our military to larger distances from the LAC, and once that happens, I am sure de-escalation will take place automatically. And that is what our aim is, and at the military level, we have always have been saying so and we are in full synergy with the MEA... ”
Northern Command’s role
The Northern Command exemplified the notion of the “two and a half front.” “The ‘eyeball to eyeball’ deployment, ranging from the plains of Jammu to the Siachen Glacier and further to eastern Ladakh, and the dynamic internal security situation in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir made the Command the most unique theatre. “Ever since its raising, it has been “Always in Combat”,” he said.
Since the beginning of the stand-off in eastern Ladakh in April 2020, the Army had inducted a range of new technologies in the area. Lt. Gen. Dwivedi stated that a lot of focus had been on communication, firepower, protection, mobility, intelligence and surveillance. There were integrated solutions and alternate solutions.
On the U.S. and western weapons in Afghanistan finding their way to the Line of Control(LoC), he said that it could not be denied that the equipment left by Americans have come in the hands of terrorists to some extent. In recent operations, the M-4 rifle made in America and some night vision devices made in the U.K. and China were found.
“But the point is terrorists should be trained to use it. We are trying not to let that happen. Terrorist should not reach where the equipment is and the equipment should not reach where the terrorist is. We are getting success in this as well,” he added.