Indian army officers crossed the McMahon Line and entered Chinese territory for a border meeting on October 30 with marble chess sets specially ordered from Agra for their Chinese counterparts.
The intention was not to checkmate the big neighbour who has traditionally not observed the sanctity of India's boundary in the east, describing it as a unilateral interpretation of a previously undefined border.
More than 2,400 Indian soldiers were butchered by the Chinese in the 1962 war and even today, mentioning that conflict at these dizzying heights is taboo. But reduction of military forces along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is being seen as an attainable objective.
|Brigadier Sanjay Kulkarni hugs Colonel Li Ming An of the Chinese army on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control at Bum La.|
Asked if electronic surveillance and gadgetry could substitute border patrolling by troops who have to slug it out in harsh climes, the leader of the Indian delegation, Brigadier Sanjay Kulkarni, said: “Against the backdrop of this cross-border bonhomie and border agreements between the two countries, it can be said that we are headed towards that end.”
What is happening on Ground Zero is that both sides adhere to the Border Peace and Tranquillity Agreement of 1993, which talks of cutting troop deployment along the LAC in conformity with requirements of mutual security.
India has already reduced troops in Arunachal Pradesh, pulled back heavy artillery and ordered troops patrolling the border to only carry personal weapons.
According to Colonel Rakesh Chibber, officiating Brigadier General Staff of the Gajraj Corps, which is responsible for guarding a border frontage of 1,563 km with China, “whenever both sides conduct military exercises, the direction of the main force is never towards the other side”.
“There is every indicator to believe we are on the right track. Border patrols have come face to face due to difference in LAC perception but there's been no instance of opening fire. The troops shake hands and exchange cigarettes. What we are witnessing here is the renaissance of Sino-Indian ties,” Kulkarni told HT.
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