Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 14
On August 5 last year, when Parliament approved an amendment to Article 370 of the Constitution to carve out Ladakh as a separate Union Territory, China responded with angry statements.
Beijing questioned the “changed status” of the “boundary”, whereas in reality there is no boundary and it never was and largely due to the Chinese, who have rejected every such proposal in 174 years, or since 1846. The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is a kind of loose understanding with several disputes and overlapping claims, especially along the 826 front in Ladakh.
Since 1846, when the British took over J&K post the first Anglo-Sikh War, an attempt was made to have a boundary and was quickly followed up in 1847. In all, the British proposed boundaries — five separate ones in 1846-47, 1865, 1873, 1899 and 1914, China rejected each of them. Britain got China to send in troops during World War I and II, but the boundary remained undecided.
Major Alexandar Cunnigham, who led the British attempt in 1847 to demarcate the boundary, details this in his 1854 book “Ladakh Physical, Statistical and Geographical”. He narrates “The settlement of this boundary (between Ladakh and Tibet) was of some importance”.
In 1834, the Dogra Army, led by General Zorawar Singh, captured Ladakh. During the Sino-Sikh War (1841–42), the Qing Empire invaded Ladakh, but the Sino-Tibetan army was defeated and “a letter of agreement” was signed in 1842.
Since August last year, China’s foreign affairs ministry has questioned the move on Article 370. At an informal session of the UN Security Council in August 2019, the Chinese Permanent Representative in the UN had argued that India’s decision to abrogate Article 370 challenged China’s sovereign interests and violated bilateral agreements on maintaining peace in the border area. In Ladakh, only two spots along the LAC are disputed.
One is at Trig Heights in the north-eastern edge of Ladakh and the other is Demchok. Besides, both sides carry out patrolling in what they perceive as the boundary — at the northern edge of Pangong Tso, Sppangur Gap, Kongka La, Chumur, Mount Sajun, Hot Springs and Samar Lungpa. However, not a bullet has been fired since November 1962 in Ladakh.
Sequence of events post Independence
- 1949: Chinese army entered Tibet. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru issued angry protest, deploring the “invasion” of Tibet.
- 1950: India unilaterally declared McMahon Line in Arunachal Pradesh as its boundary.
- 1954: India categorically claimed Aksai Chin as part of its northern border and partially followed the Johnson-Ardagh Line of 1865.
- 1956: Chinese Claim Line (CCL) is proposed by Beijing.
- 1958: India discovered China had built a road over the plateau of Aksai Chin, connecting Xinjiang and Tibet.
- 1959: Tibetan armed uprising failed in Lhasa; Nehru rejected Chou Enlai’s letter in which China complained Indians were overstepping McMahon Line.
- 1960: China bizarrely expanded its claim on another 5,100 sq km of territory in eastern Ladakh.
- 1960: Chinese Premier Chou Enlai offered to resolve the dispute on ‘present actualities’. China wanted status quo – India keeps NEFA (now Arunachal Pradesh) while China keeps Aksai Chin – the northeast edge of J&K. This was rejected by India.
- Nov 1961: India launched “forward policy” to retain control over territory.
- Oct-Nov 1962: India and China go to war.
- 1967: Nathu la skirmish, 400 Chinese and 65 Indian troops killed.
- 1975. Four Assam Rifles men get killed after crossing the McMahon line at Tulung la in Arunachal Pradesh.
- 1986-87: Nine-month stand-off at Sum Drong Chu, Arunchal Pradesh. India launched Operation Falcon.
- 1988: Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s meeting with Deng Xiaoping resulted in another offer. China suggested resolution of Tawang tract. Rajiv Gandhi didn't respond.
- September 1993: Agreement signed on “maintenance of peace and tranquility along the LAC” under Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao.
- 1996: Talk of ‘not disturbing’ settled populations, and in November 1996 agreement signed on confidence-building measures in the military field along the LAC.
- 2003: Architecture of Special Representatives set up.
- 2005: Agreement on “modalities for the implementation of confidence building measures (of 1996) in the military field along the LAC”.
- 2012: Establishment of a “working mechanism for consultation and coordination on India-China border affairs”.
- 2013: Border defence cooperation agreement signed in Beijing by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
- 2014: Prime Minister Modi suggested demarcation of LAC on ground. China says let the special representatives (at present Ajit Doval and Wang yi) to resolve it. The talks are going on.
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