File image of Indian soldiers in Ladakh | By special arrangement
File image of Indian soldiers in Ladakh | Representational image | By special arrangement
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The Chinese have changed the rules of engagement at the Line of Actual Control by using crude weapons such as iron rods, stones and sticks with nails and barbed wire on against Indian soldiers.

It is now time for India to rethink the rules of engagement and give it back to the bully. This is because China understands only one language — the language of a bully.

All Indian soldiers at the LAC should be allowed to use firearms when needed instead of being turned into a central police force by equipping them with lightweight riot gear. It is shocking that the Army also plans to equip its troops guarding the LAC with spiked club, as the report mentions.

This is a defeatist mindset and we would never allow this to happen on any other border. The Chinese should have been taught not to mess with Indian soldiers the day they became overtly aggressive the first time they did in the recent years. To see a nuclear-armed nation prepare itself to fight another nuclear power with stones and clubs is rather sad.

If sticks and riot gears are what is preferred, then hand over the forward patrolling completely to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Army can be deployed deeper and come in with the firepower when needed.


Also read: 10 Indian soldiers, including four officers, released by China after talks


Change in Chinese tactic

When Congress leader Rahul Gandhi questioned why the soldiers were not carrying firearms, two days after the clash at Galwan Valley resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar tweeted in response: “Let us get the facts straight. All troops on border duty always carry arms, especially when leaving post. Those at Galwan on 15 June did so. Long-standing practice (as per 1996 & 2005 agreements) not to use firearms during faceoffs,”

Rahul Gandhi has also tweeted back to him.

I am not getting into the debate of whether all Indian soldiers had loaded rifles or not, but the entire idea behind not using firearms was to avoid an escalation at the LAC, where troops often come face-to-face during patrols along the imaginary border line.

Military officials said that while the Chinese earlier used to engage in jostling and pushing, over the last few years, they have started pelting Indian soldiers with stones. It’s the same tactic that Chinese soldiers resorted to on 5 May when they attacked a group of Indian personnel.

There were no fatalities, although several soldiers were seriously wounded and had to be admitted to hospitals, with some even brought to Delhi.

The situation on 15 June, however, took an ugly turn when the Commanding Officer of 16 Bihar, Col Santosh Babu, and 19 other soldiers were killed in a similar attack.

This is perhaps the first time that a Commanding Officer of an infantry unit of the Army lost his life to medieval weapons at the hands of the enemy.


Also read: Modi govt and military leaders have soldiers’ blood on hands. PM’s dilemma now same as Nehru


This calls for a change

What the Chinese did was barbaric. Army personnel on the ground are seething with anger, and one officer told me that had Col Santosh Babu known that the Chinese were armed, he would have followed a different procedure.

The practice of not opening firearms draws its inspiration from the 1996 agreement between India and China, which says that “neither side shall open fire or conduct blast operations within 2 km of the Line of Actual Control”.

Though the aim was to ensure that there is no violence and subsequent escalation, the tragic death of 20 soldiers changes everything.

It is important now to hit back at the aggressor. Indian soldiers should be given the powers to defend themselves against any hostility.

It speaks about the discipline of the Army that the soldiers did not open fire despite barbaric behaviour by the Chinese.

However, when a menacing mob armed with medieval weapons comes running towards you to kill and maim, it is better to open fire. Even the Army Act, 1950 allows Indian soldiers to open fire to protect their lives.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Modi does not have guts to take on bigger stronger Chinese………………he can only attack smaller Pakistan or internally bully unarmed Kashmiris…………..period !!!!

  2. I agree with the sentiment that we should not allow the Chinese to bend the rules of engagement by using medieval weapons that are just as lethal, just because they’re not firearms. But please remember that China is a bully and if we open fire first, they’ll not back down but escalate it even further thru fully automatic or even more lethal weapons. They want an excuse to take over land that doesn’t belong to them. It would be better that while they’re in the wrong, we pressure them to change the wording of the agreement from “no firearms” to “no instruments of hurt or death”, which would rule out sticks and stones too.

  3. Sorry but this reporter is speaking through his hat. No one has stopped any army person from using fire arms when needed. This reporter seems to be a chela of that half wit congress leader.

  4. Every time Indians are defeated by their naivety and not because of lacking courage. Indian history is replete with these stories. basic nature of fighting has not changed, though weapons have.

  5. I used to wonder why American policemen are kitted like soldiers, using surplus material from the Iraq war. An even more ungainly sight would be brave Indian jawans dressed like riot policemen, 15,000 feet up in the mountains, as they face their most determined adversary. 2. There is a fog of confusion about whether the martyrs of Galvan were carrying firearms and, if they were, what or who prevented them from using these in self defence. Both the institution and the personage of CDS are on test.

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