With New Delhi and Beijing agreeing that a peaceful border is an important guarantor of growth in bilateral relations, India has proposed Kibuthu in Walong sector of far-east Arunachal Pradesh as an additional site for border personnel meetings (BPMs) to defuse any tension on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
This would be part of the currently negotiated Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA).
Besides, rather than leave only to diplomats or joint secretary level mechanism to sort out any future incursions or face-offs on the LAC, New Delhi has proposed a hotline between Director General Military Operations (DGMO) and PLA Headquarters in Beijing.
Alternatively, it has proposed a direct communication link between the commander of Chengdu military region, guarding the LAC, with India’s eastern army commander to ensure that Depsang-like situations are not repeated.
Although India and China are understood to have built convergence after the latter sent the second BDCA draft in June, New Delhi is looking towards Beijing to walk the talk on accelerating the boundary resolution as promised by its new leaders.
In the interregnum, both sides have agreed to additional BPM sites and direct military-to-military communication on ground level.
At present, BPMs are held at Spanggur Gap/Chushul in Eastern Ladakh, Nathu La in Sikkim and Bum La in Arunachal Pradesh.
While India and China had first agreed to another BPM site at 17,500 ft high Lipu Lekh pass in Uttarakhand, the idea was dropped due to treacherous terrain.
The Indian Army instead proposed Kibuthu, a border town in Anjaw district where river Lohit enters Arunachal Pradesh, as it felt the LAC was peaceful in the middle sector (Uttarakhand). Kibuthu LAC has been active in the past five years with incursions from both sides.
Despite the media hyperbole on PLA incursions, both countries are not unduly bothered about any military escalation on the LAC.
The reason is that the patrolling patterns of both the armies have not changed and neither has the strength of the patrols.
At present, the process is on to identify hot spots on the LAC and clarify positions on both sides so that chances of face-offs or any localised belligerence on part of commanders is reduced.
Surveillance may be redeployed in Chumar
The army may reinstall surveillance equipment in Ladakh’s Chumar sector, after Chinese soldiers intruded into the area last month and took away cameras installed there, sources said.
The cameras installed by the Indian Army were in a disputed area, which both countries claim as their own.
The Chinese troops returned the camera after the matter was taken up at a flag meeting between local commanders.