A spot report, commissioned by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on the India-China border issue, has confirmed the government’s worst fears.
The ground situation report, submitted by National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) chairperson Shyam Saran to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on August 10, 2013, underlines that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops are not allowing their Indian counterparts to patrol the Indian perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
Singh had told Saran to visit the eastern Ladakh and Siachen sectors from August 2 to 9 for reviewing the border infrastructure development and LAC situation. Saran, who had conducted a similar exercise in May 2007, has reported a grim scenario of Chinese transgressions in the Daulet Beg Oldi (DBO) sector, Depsang Bulge and Chumar.
The report has been shared with the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
An inter-ministerial committee headed by home secretary Anil Goswami has reportedly been set up to monitor the LAC situation and the existing empowered committee on border infrastructure development, led by cabinet secretary Ajit Seth, has been asked to remove the bureaucratic bottlenecks in Ladakh.
Though the government is tightlipped about the report, Saran has indicated that the “limits of patrol” line has become the new LAC for India in certain areas of Ladakh sector.
The Chinese define the LAC in eastern Ladakh as marked on a map in then premier Zhou En-Lai’s letter of November 7, 1959, to then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
The Indian perception of the LAC, as marked by the China Study Group (CSG) in 1976 on the basis of the 1962 war positions, vastly varies from the Chinese one on at least 12 pockets from DBO to Chumar.
However, the CSG — which comprises the foreign, home and defence secretaries, the army vice-chief and two intelligence chiefs — defined the “limits of patrolling” for the Indian Army to maintain border peace. The patrol line is between New Delhi and Beijing’s LAC perceptions and 2-20 km short of the Indian line.
Saran has reported that the Chinese have built a motorable kutcha road to a sensitive Track Junction area in the DBO sector, thus changing the position on ground and in violation of the 2005 protocol.
The former foreign secretary told the PMO that Indian troops were able to go only up to the patrol line in Depsang with the area defined as “bulge” with Chinese PLA. The April 15, 2013, Depsang incursion at Raki Nullah was designed to prevent the Indian patrols from reaching Points 10, 11, 11A and 13 with Point 12 outside the patrol line.
Saran and former northern army commander Lt Gen PC Bharadwaj also surveyed Pangong Tso, a saltwater lake through which runs the LAC. They found a beefed up PLA firmly entrenched in their position in the Srijap area.
Saran is also concerned with the situation in Chumar where the PLA is making frequent transgressions, claiming 85 sq km of Indian territory despite the international border defining the two countries.