Experts

Ladakh scuffle: a routine incident, say experts

 

A local flag meeting between military commanders of India and China in Eastern Ladakh on Wednesday has agreed to maintain peace in the area. The meeting came in the wake of incidents of scuffle and stone-throwing between the two sides at Pangong lake on Tuesday.

“At these meetings, each side tells the other their side of the story. Both sides agreed to ensure that such incidents do not occur and resolve them as per the existing agreements and mechanisms,” a defence source said on Thursday.

The Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) was held at Chushul in Eastern Ladakh. It was chaired by Brigadier-level officers and lasted about two hours and and half.

Flag meetings

The source said these incidents happened at regular intervals and were resolved through flag meetings. “This time it drew attention only because of the Doklam standoff and Independence Day,” he said.

The developments come as the standoff at Doklam entered the third month. Military observers believe the Pangong lake incident would not have a bearing on the standoff. A section within the military believed that a better communication strategy was needed to avoid unwanted speculation.

Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda, former Commander of the Northern Army which oversees the Ladakh region, said the faceoff at Pangong lake was “something fairly routine.” “We patrol till our claims and then we do the banner drills in case of a faceoff. In summer it happens even more,” he told The Hindu.

A one-off incident

These incidents were resolved at local flag meetings, Lt. Gen. Hooda said. “The peace along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has held because both sides have actually respected the status quo. Every time there is an attempt to disrupt the status quo there is a problem.”

However, he cautioned that the longer the problem continued, the greater the chance of something going wrong. “If they want to do something they won’t do it in Doklam. They will do it where they have a physical advantage. The bigger risk is they could do something in other areas,” he said.

China expert Lt. Gen. S.L. Narasimhan (retd) too shared a similar view. “I don’t link it to Doklam. It is a one off incident, which seems to have gone out of control,” he said.

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