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Even as China refuses to move out its troops, which it had moved 10 km inside the Indian territory in the Ladakh region, Ladakhis feel that Indian response like in the past has always been too meek, resulting in loss of strategic territory.
“Till 1986 nomad would take their cattle to Dumchele ground, about 300-km south-east of Leh, during winters. The Chinese would also come near for trading during winters; but then suddenly Chinese started pushing out nomads. Indian establishment didn't object and now it's out of bounds for us and China has build infrastructure there,” Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) executive councilor from Chishul Namgayal Phunchok said.
Leh district has a population of about 1.5 lakh of which about 1,200 are nomad families. The nomads, who move up to the border, also play an important role of intelligence.
“The Kargil incursion was also first reported by nomads. Any threat to them from our neighbour shouldn't be dismissed lightly as it has the potential of repeating Kargil,” said Nubra MLA T Namgayal.
Councilor Phunchok said nomads move much ahead of Indian posts but they were being consistently desisted for doing so by the army. He added: “I don't know why the army is doing so. They may be under instructions from Delhi but it's not in the interest of the country.”
The Ladakh region has always sided with Indian nation and its scouts helped army even during war. China has off late also been objecting to development work being carried out inside the Indian territory.
Last July, its troops stopped the construction work on 3.5-km Gondo-Yaldar irrigation canal from Indus river in the Nyoma sub-division of Leh district by threatening the labourers there.
“I then personally went there and sternly told Chinese that they have no right to interfere in our land. It was after this that work was completed this year,” said LAHDC chief executive councilor Rigzin Spalbar.
Dauat-Beg-oldie (DBO), the recent point of conflict, is barren land about 200-km from Nubra sub-division where even local don't go. The silk route trade would move from here. It's in Karakoram range. It's strategically important as it is close to Karakoram highway built by China.
A sitting legislator, wishing not to be named, is also not happy with the Indian response
“A number of times our local along the border confronted them even physically after they threatened to move back. We unarmed locals can show resistance I don't know whey the army is not doing so,” said the legislator.
Locals also say that the defence establishment also doesn't take it suggestions of opening new posts which according to them are strategically important.
“India aspires to be great power is undoubtedly clear but whether it wants is the real question and this is the time to put this question to rest,” said Nubra legislator Namgayal.
India should not be seen as soft state: BJP
Jammu: BJP state president Jugal Kishore Sharma has called upon the UPA government to make its policy clear as far as China is concerned and ensure that repeated incursions by Chinese troops and Peoples Liberation Army are stopped forthwith. While reiterating that no political party is in favour of escalating the stand- off following Chinese intrusion in Daulat Baig sector of Ladakh, he said the government should ensure that the PLA troops occupying the area are immediately asked to withdraw.
Sharma said Vajpayee-led NDA government had followed consistent foreign policy towards China and Pakistan but ever since the Manmohan Singh government came into power, there has been only confusion on both the fronts. As a result of this, China has been repeatedly violating the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and Pakistan is also continuing with its mischievous designs on the border.
Sharma said the message should not go that India was a soft state and not capable of defending its territories. He said India also has trade relations with China but it is a bigger partner and if India wants to be treated with respect and seriousness, it should strive for and equal relationship with China in trade and other areas.
Expressing his full support and solidarity with people of Ladakh, Jugal said the BJP had set up a very strong party unit in Ladakh which is working in close coordination with locals, who are repeatedly at the receiving end of Chinese aggression. He said the people of the region have made great sacrifices for the country, particularly during the 1962 war and Kargil war of 1999 and in future also they are prepared to put up a brave front.