For a territory officially recognised as sensitive and where the army does not rule out the possibility of a future dispute due to “difference in perception” of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the calm at this 15,600-foot pass seems almost unnatural.
At the very heights from where the Chinese opened a deadly line of assault in the 1962 war, the two armies are today grabbing, with both hands, every chance to sow the seeds of trust and hope. The border personnel meet (BPM) held on Chinese territory on Monday came across as a potent indicator of how the two countries are striving to cultivate a strong relationship.
Brigadier Sanjay Kulkarni, who led the six-member Indian delegation, told the Hindustan Times: “The Chinese have sometimes patrolled on the fringes of the LAC without personal weapons. It speaks volumes about the level of trust we share. Border meets go a long way in reinforcing respect for the LAC and preventing any untoward incident along the frontiers.” A critical component of the Sino-Indian Border Peace and Tranquillity Agreement, border meets — which are also held at Ladakh and Nathu La in Sikkim — have surfaced as an effective platform for sorting out border problems, which could otherwise become major flashpoints of conflict.
Kulkarni, who commands the Korea Brigade at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, said: “We have agreed not to use military capability to settle border problems. All issues have to be addressed only through peaceful consultations.”
The LAC is not the only item on agenda at such BPMs. Indian officials on Monday sought the assistance of the Chinese border defence regiment to trace missing tribal youth Chhabe Chhagar, who is feared to have strayed across the border. Colonel Li Ming An, the leader of the Chinese delegation, assured the Indian side they would try to locate the boy and repatriate him. Colonel Shailendra Singh, the deputy delegation leader, said: “There is reason to believe they are sincere. They recently returned a subsidiary intelligence bureau official who had strayed across.”
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