Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Friday, 26 September 2014

From Today's Papers - 26 Sep 2014

India, China end stand-off at Chumar, to pull back troops
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 25
Military commanders of India and China today decided to end the two-week stand-off at Chumar in south eastern Ladakh.

Troops will be withdrawn in phases over the next four days. They will be restored at the positions they held before September 10, sources said.

The deadlock was broken after both sides agreed to refrain from construction activity in the disputed areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

A Brigadier-level flag meeting was held today at ‘Sppangur Gap’ in Chusul area of eastern Ladakh where the phased withdrawal was decided along with a timeline to do so, sources confirmed.

Sources say the Indian Army will remove its military-use concrete constructions in disputed areas along the LAC in Chumar, while the Chinese will halt construction on a road in the disputed areas or south of point 30-R.

“Status quo ante shall be restored,” a source said, adding that the decision was taken at the highest levels in Delhi and Beijing.

In today’s flag meeting, the military commanders discussed ground rules to withdraw the troops. The two sides worked out a formula that seemed workable for both. With events being closely watched in Washington, Moscow, Tokyo and Islamabad, the settlement had to look fair to either side lest they look to be ceding ground.

During the April-May 2013 stand-off at Depsang plains, China had agreed to withdraw after India agreed to remove some tin sheds it had erected at Chumar – which was an accepted formula.

Chinese Ambassador to India Le Yechung had yesterday said that the LAC was not demarcated and due to the dispute it was difficult to tell “who crossed the border”.

During the current stand-off, India numerically dominated all but one position at Chumar with both sides claiming the other violated the sanctity of the Line of Actual Control. Thereafter, both agreed upon 2005 protocol that barred any troop buildup or construction in disputed areas.

India wanted the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to withdraw from its positions into its own held areas of Chepzi (Zhipuqi-Quebusi) and China wanted India to withdraw.

On September 17, both sides had agreed to maintain a minimum distance along the Line of Actual Control.

Meanwhile, New Delhi is working on naming a special representative, as demanded by China during President Xi Jinping's visit to India last week, to hold talks on the border issue and demarcation of the Line of Actual Control.
India, China Agree on Withdrawal of Troops From Ladakh, Say Sources
The two week face-off with the Chinese army at Chumur in South East Ladakh ended today following a flag meeting in Chushul.

Sources told NDTV after today's marathon flag meeting both sides have agreed to pull back troops from point 30R and adjoining areas in Chumoor from tomorrow.

The withdrawal of troops will be carried out in four phases, sources added.

Besides, both sides have agreed to restore "status quo ante as on September 10," sources said. In other words, both India and China have agreed not to construct in the disputed area.

India was objecting to China constructing a road in the disputed area - Chebzi to point 30R. On the other hand China has been objecting to Indian constructions in the same area.

About 800-1000 Chinese Army troops and 1500 troops of the Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police were engaged in face-off since September 11.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised the issue of transgression with Chinese President Xi Jinping during three day official visit to India.

Despite the face-off at Ladakh, both sides were engaged with each other through confidence building measures.

A seven member Chinese Army delegation from the eastern Chengdu Military command is visiting Kolkata.

Political Commissar Chengdu Military Region Command Lieutenant General Zhu Fuxi met the Eastern Army Commander Lieutenant General M M S Rae at Fort William today.
Blast in Submarine Sindhurakshak was Due to Lapses in Procedure, Says Navy
 Explosions on board INS Sindhurakshak in August 2013 - which caused the death of 18 sailors and the vessel to sink in Mumbai harbour - happened because critical Standard Operating Procedures, or SoPs, were violated, an internal inquiry into the incident has revealed.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, senior Navy officials aware of findings of the Board of Inquiry said, "Processes were flouted when torpedoes were being loaded on the boat".
Confirming that procedures had indeed been violated, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Robin Dhowan told NDTV, "Perhaps in not following certain procedures things could have gone wrong that led to accidents".

Submarines are highly complicated platforms and detailed Standard Operating Procedures are there for handling them. "We have found that whenever SOPs are not followed, there is room for error and that could lead to accidents," Admiral Dhowan said.

This is the first time the Indian Navy has officially ascribed a reason to what was perhaps the worst-ever accident in the submarine arm. (Read: Safety rules violation may be behind INS Sindhurakshak accident, says Russia)

The INS Sindhurakshak, a Kilo-class submarine - carried 16 warheads, a combination of Sut Torpedoes and Klub Missiles.

On August 14, the submarine was being prepared for a sortie - a dive at sea -- when a major explosion on board led to its sinking and the death of the sailors. The explosion took place in the forward compartment where the weapons bay was located. (Read: INS Sindhurakshak submarine explodes, 18 sailors feared dead)

Forensic examination of the 14 missiles and torpedoes recovered from the damaged submarine ruled out malfunction of ordnance which could have caused the explosion.

"Of the 16 warheads, two had exploded. The rest disintegrated, but didn't explode. This indicates that the warheads were stable and processes were violated during loading," said an official.

Admiral Dhowan said the incident has spurred the Navy to put in place strict remedial measures -- for instance, "rigid safety audits and examination by operational commands prior to sorties".

The Navy has also tested all other torpedoes and tube-launched missiles in other submarines of the same specification and found them to be "stable".

INS Sindhurakshak, the 9th of the 10 Kilo Class diesel-electric powered submarines, was commissioned in December 1997. It went through a mid-life upgrade between June 2010 and May 2013, which cost $80 million.
Belying optimism, US-India defence cooperation struggles
The US-India defence relationship has been talked up as one of the highlights of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US on September 26-30. Yet, with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government having spent only four months in office, there has been little time to reverse the "arms-length" policies of A K Antony's eight-year custodianship of the defence ministry (MoD) that ended in May.

Modi's visit, therefore, is unlikely to achieve the "deliverables" and "outcomes" in defence cooperation that are used to measure a visit's success.

Aware of the embarrassing absence of substance and big-ticket signings, New Delhi last month initiated the draft of a fresh pact to renew the defence framework agreement that expires in June. The "New Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship", signed on June 28, 2005, was valid for 10 years.

The proposed new agreement is referred to - tongue-in-cheek - as the "New New Defence Framework". With Washington and New Delhi still negotiating drafts, there is little prospect of the agreement being signed during Modi's visit.

Nor are there any big-ticket defence contracts to sign. Defence Minister Arun Jaitley told Parliament in July that India's proposed purchase of M777 ultralight howitzers from BAE Systems is mired in disagreement over the price.

The two big contracts that the MoD recently cleared - for 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters; and 15 Chinook heavy lift helicopters, together worth about Rs 15,000 crore - have not been cleared by the union cabinet. There could be an announcement that India has selected the two Boeing helicopters, but a contract signature is unlikely.

Boeing chief executive officer (CEO), James McNerney, will have a one-on-one meeting with Modi in New York on September 29. Company sources suggest Boeing will outline its plans to design and manufacture defence equipment in India.

Another CEO with interests in defence who will meet Modi that morning is Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric.

"India and US are strategic partners and cooperating across a wide canvas…We cooperate from issues relating to the atom to issues relating to outer space," said India's foreign office spokesperson, Syed Akbaruddin, on September 23.

Yet, US officials complain the empty agenda reflects the Indian MoD's reluctance to respond to repeated US defence cooperation proposals.

To be sure, much of that stonewalling took place under Antony. After US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, visited Delhi last month, American officials said they encountered a far more engaged and receptive Indian MoD.

Even so, progress seems unlikely before Jaitley travels to Washington next month for a meeting of the Defence Policy Group (DPG) - the apex US-India defence cooperation forum, co-chaired by India's defence minister and the US secretary of defence.

It is a measure of how moribund the defence partnership had become under the United Progressive Alliance that the DPG, which is supposed to meet every year, has not met since February 2012.

As their best hope in resuscitating the defence relationship, New Delhi and Washington are looking to the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI). Proposed by US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in 2012, the DTTI's role has never been formally spelt out. Even so, both sides informally agree that its basic role should be to overcome bureaucratic hurdles that arise due to the different working styles of the two defence establishments.

Under the DTTI, the Pentagon made a dozen proposals to the MoD during Chuck Hagel's visit last month. He said these would "transfer significant qualitative capability, technology, and production know-how" to India.

Of these, the one that might come up during Modi's visit is a first-ever US offer to co-produce the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile in India; and to co-develop a "next-generation Javelin" with Indian defence research & development agencies. The Indian Army was poised to buy the Spike anti-tank missile from Israel, but the Javelin offer has caused New Delhi to reconsider.

Secretary for defence production, G Mohan Kumar, was in Washington on September 23, apparently discussing the Javelin proposal. It remains unclear, however, whether any announcement will be made during Modi's visit.

In talking up the DTTI, Washington will cite Secretary Hagel's invitation to Jaitley to a summit level inter-agency meeting in October, where Secretary of State, John Kerry and Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, would join them. This high-power forum could discuss every dimension of the US technology control regime, which has been a major bugbear in US-India relations.
With canal and hut in Ladakh, Indian army stands up to China

Earlier this month, the Indian army stationed on a remote Himalayan plateau built a small observation hut from where they could watch Chinese soldiers across a disputed border. The move so irked China’s military that it laid a road on territory claimed by India and demanded that the tin hut be dismantled. India refused, destroyed a part of the new road and promptly raised troop numbers in the area. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making good on election promises of a more robust national security policy, and the fact that around 1,000 soldiers from each side are facing off in Ladakh is evidence even mighty China is not off limits. No shots have been fired, and a brief border war between the world’s two most populous nations was fought 52 years ago. But Indian military officials said the situation in the Chumar area of Ladakh had been unusually tense in recent weeks, highlighting a simmering disagreement between the nuclear-armed neighbours that is back on the agenda at the highest level. Modi was unusually forthright when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India in mid-September, challenging Xi in private on the question of incursions along their 3,500-km contested frontier. Afterwards, he told a news conference in the presence of the Chinese leader that peace and stability on the border were needed for better economic ties that Beijing has been pressing for. P. Stobdan, a former Indian ambassador and a Ladakhi with deep knowledge of the competing claims in the region, sees a shift in New Delhi’s thinking. “The hut has become the bone of contention. The Chinese have drawn a red line. They want it demolished before they withdraw,” he said. Last year, the Chinese forced the Indians to demolish another hut in Chumar in return for ending a face-off. “This time the new government does not seem to be in a mood to budge,” Stobdan added. No longer business as usual Beginning in June, as it prepared to receive Xi, Modi’s government set in train a series of bold actions on the border where Indian officials say China has long been nibbling away at its territory. It ordered faster construction of 72 strategic roads along the border to narrow the gap with China’s vastly superior and intricate network of roads and tracks in the mountains. It has also rebuilt airfields, including a landing strip laid in Daulat Beg Oldi in Ladakh in 1962, the year the two countries fought their short war. Over the past few months C-130 Hercules planes bought from the US have been landing at the airfield some 30 km from Depsang, the site of a 21-day standoff last year when People’s Liberation Army soldiers set up tents on India’s side of the 1962 ceasefire line. V.K. Singh, Modi’s minister for India’s northeastern states, another area where the border is in dispute with China, says it is no longer business as usual on the so-called Line of Actual Control (LAC) dividing the two countries. Incursions from both sides are common along the ceasefire line, because their armies cannot agree where it lies, making a final settlement a distant prospect. “Sometimes (in the past), I think for political reasons or other reasons, we would have said okay, leave it. But that perpetuates the problem, it doesn’t solve the problem,” said Singh, a former army chief handpicked to beef up civilian and military infrastructure in the northeast. “You keep giving a concession, it only perpetuates the problem. So somewhere up the hierarchy someone has to say ‘let’s hold on’,” he told Reuters in an interview about the latest confrontation with China. India was humiliated in the 1962 war and, since then, while it has built up its conventional military and nuclear and missile capabilities, it has been careful to avoid showdowns at the border, which, despite 17 rounds of talks over two decades, remains unsettled. Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow with the Institute of International Relations at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told China’s state-run Global Times that Modi government’s move to build up infrastructure and equipment on the Indian side of the LAC signalled a shift in posture. “The ‘offensive’ strategy aims to gain more leverage in the talks,” Hu told the fiercely nationalist newspaper. High-altitude hut The chain of events leading to the latest tensions began in Demchok, on the southeastern corner of Ladakh. On 18 August, India started building an irrigation canal there as part of the government’s rural jobs guarantee programme. China protested, saying it was located inside its territory. Then, on 8 September, Indian troops erected their observation hut on a hillock in Chumar, one of the areas along the LAC where India has the tactical advantage of height. Retired Indian army brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal, who has served in high-altitude areas, said India’s position there overlooks Chinese encampments and a dirt road leading up to the area. Beijing’s response was swift. Within a day, some 500 PLA troops crossed into the area and used cranes and bulldozers to build a 2 km road. Later that night, Indian soldiers dug up part of that road, but the Chinese have not withdrawn from the area, which New Delhi considers to be several kilometres inside its territory. Around 1,000 soldiers from each side are ranged against each other, and further to the east, a group of Chinese civilians backed by the PLA intruded into the Demchok sector where India was trying to build the irrigation canal, Indian officials said. China’s public comments on the latest row with India have been measured. “The China-India border dispute is a left-over from history. The two countries’ border, to this day, has not been designated, and the two sides’ understanding of the real line of control is not the same,” the defence ministry said, adding that both New Delhi and Beijing were resolved to manage the problem. A civilised cup of tea India says China violated the ceasefire line 334 times in the first eight months of this year. Chinese officials with Xi on his visit last week said India had violated the LAC 410 times, according to an Indian government official at the talks. Border patrols have become more frequent and probing deeper into each other’s territories, officials say, often running into each other. Earlier, the two armies sent out patrols on alternating days along the most contentious areas of the border so that their troops wouldn’t come into contact. “If there is a border patrol that crosses the LAC as perceived by the other side, they are supposed to offer them a cup of tea and ask them to leave immediately. The idea is it should be civilised behaviour. At times this civilised behaviour has spun out of control with soldiers roughing each other up,” said an Indian officer at the army headquarters in New Delhi. But the head of Ladakh’s local government said India had neglected the border area for decades to its own and local people’s detriment. Only now was it starting to plug the gaps, he added, and that had provoked the Chinese. “We have lost so much pasture land, grazing land over a period of time to China,” said Rigzin Spalbar, chief executive councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council. “We told our people not to go close to the LAC, the area was left vacant and the Chinese sent their herders in. Now those areas have become their possessions.”
Border standoff: India keeps China waiting for flag meeting
In order to send a strong message to China following the ongoing two-week standoff at Chumar in Ladakh after Chinese border incursions there, the Indian Army is yet to react to requests by the People's Liberation Army for a flag meeting near the Line of Actual Control, while talks between the two governments are taking place to end the impasse caused by the incursions.

Chinese ambassador Le Yucheng met senior external affairs ministry officials Wednesday, when the issue was discussed, but MEA officials dismissed reports that the ambassador was summoned by them.

“Meetings can take place but it does not mean that an Ambassador has been summoned,” said an MEA official when asked about the meeting with the Chinese envoy. The stand-off is also understood to have been discussed at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi ahead of the Prime Minister's visit to the United States. The Army is also keeping the Government apprised of the latest developments in the situation on the ground at Chumar.

“It appears that the Chinese are waiting for some sort of face-saver. India will not be cowed down. The Indian Army is clear that it will not withdraw till the Chinese pull back to their pre-September 10 positions in the area. The Indian Army has neither said 'Yes' nor 'No' to the Chinese request for a flag meeting so far,” sources said on Wednesday evening. But a formal flag meeting between senior officers of the two Armies may take place eventually to break the deadlock.

Officers of the two Armies on the ground could be in contact with each other on the ground through telephone hotlines to find a way out of the impasse, sources indicated.

Earlier, the MEA had maintained that “diplomacy is quietly at work” between the two countries to resolve the stand-off issue following talks at the highest level recently between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
People's Liberation Army says situation on LAC 'brought under control'

China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) said on Thursday the stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) had been "brought under control" and that incidents along the border "were the exception rather than the rule".

PLA Senior Colonel Geng Yansheng, who is a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, told India Today that the Chinese military and India had made "a timely exchange" on their difference through the mechanisms in place to address the "recent incidents". Both sides have been involved in a stand-off along the LAC in Demchok and Chumar areas.

"Everything has been brought under control at present and the Sino-India border has regained peace," Snr. Col. Geng said in a written response to questions from India Today.

He said the boundary dispute was "an issue left by history" and with the border "as yet undemarcated" it was "only natural that sometimes the two countries run into some problems".

"However, such cases are the exception rather than the rule and will not affect the friendly cooperation between the two sides," he said.

His statement came as the Indian Ambassador to China Ashok Kantha held consultations with both the Foreign Ministry and the Defence Ministry, indicating a stepping up of diplomatic effort to defuse the stand-off.

The PLA Senior Colonel said the Chinese military was following the consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Chinese leader's visit to India that "maintaining the peace on the Sino-Indian border underpins the development of bilateral ties" and that the "two countries will both be committed to protecting the peace on the Sino-Indian border pending a final settlement".

Snr. Col. Geng indicated China was still keen to have the fourth round of defence exercises with India later this year, telling India Today that "specific arrangements are under negotiation".

Both sides, he said, will also have their first dialogue on maritime cooperation later this year, which he added will deal with maritime security, focusing on anti-piracy and freedom of navigation.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal