Friday, 20 May, 2022
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India, China must ensure video showing troops clashing in Ladakh doesn’t raise tensions

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A huge achievement for both nations is that since the 1975 incident, there has been no loss of life involving border troops on both sides

This video showing stone pelting takes things to a whole new dimension.

There have been scuffles on the border in the past, in Chumar. What is important now is to ensure there is no escalation. A huge achievement for both nations to show is that since the 1975 incident, there has been no loss of life involving border troops on both sides. It is a big, shared achievement. And it was possible because of the mechanism and SOPs(standard operating procedures) that are in place and have worked well on the ground.

If we change that, the situation can quickly deteriorate. This should be avoided. Both nations recognise that there are big differences in perception about the LAC (Line of Actual Control), but these have been managed well and troops have quickly gone back to the respective positions. After some time, they were resolved. At this point, ensuring that these old modalities hold is extremely important. The alternative is not good.

If you see the video, things do look fragile but we must not forget that peace and tranquility has prevailed in spite of past incidents of jostling.

If it does not escalate beyond this point, it will remain an isolated incident. From the video it looks like the troops got a little carried away.

Now that the video is out in the public domain, there will be a public debate. Unfortunately, public opinion is already sharp on this issue. This is because of the manner in which China is dealing with the standoff by issuing intemperate statements, which does vitiate the atmosphere.

Ashok K. Kantha, former Ambassador of India to China and Director, Institute of Chinese Studies and Distinguished Fellow, Vivekananda International Foundation

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  1. A very unfortunate incident and development. Standard operating procedures on the ground have kept an almost entirely undefined 2,200 mile LAC tranquil for decades. These have been buttressed by painstaking, incremental diplomacy that has sought to normalise a relationship where there is a great deal of mistrust. Those achievements are coming unstuck in a matter of weeks. Armed conflict, no matter how limited and localised, would set relations back severely. Both sides need to use the time that remains to defuse the situation at Doklam.

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