As India continues its fight against China over a contested boundary, Former Ladakh Corps Commander Lieutenant General Rakesh Sharma (retd) has said that he is ashamed that India has to deal with an army which fights with sticks, batons and spikes.
“Mature nations with professional armies do not act this way,” he said.
Lt. General Rakesh Sharma said that over the years, there have been incidents of fist-cuffs and fights and it has been gradually rising.
“The level has escalated several notches higher in the past month. What happened on June 15 is one more escalation in the new normal,” he said.
“There is lot of anguish in the Indian Army about the loss of lives of the commanding officer and men. The position of a commanding officer is sacrosanct. He is the most important person in the entire machinery of the Indian Army because he commands troops and runs the organisation. The loss of a CO brings great pain to a unit,” he added.
Sharma said he thought the PLA was a professional army and not crude like the Pakistan army, “but the Chinese have showed themselves to be as brutal and crude as the Pakistanis”.
“This is not how mature armies behave. I am not even sure if these troops were PLA or border guards or some paramilitary force. Though the border guards operate under the PLA. Throwing stones, using baton, spikes, knuckle-dusters doesn’t speak well of an honorable army,” he said.
Sharma further argued that the clash between Chinese and Indian troops on June 15 took place on India’s side of the border.
“The LAC crosses the Galwan nala some distance away from the Shyok river junction. It is incorrect when people say that the Chinese are at the junction of the Galwan nala and Shyok river. The incident on June 15 took place on our side. To say that they have come down and are dominating the road is incorrect,” he said.
He added: “The view that they are on higher reaches on either side of the nala and occupying defensive positions is also not correct from the information that has come in. It is possible that they are across the LAC, we don’t know their exact location, but they need to withdraw 1 to 3 km in the Galwan area.”
In Pangong Tso, he said, the Chinese troops are 7 to 8 km inside India’s territory along the road. It is a road that crosses Finger 8 and comes to Finger 4.
“Finger 8 is our LAC and they claim Finger 4 is their LAC, which is around 4 km away from Finger 8. In my opinion, they have moved ahead in a road space and are not budging,” he said.
Sharma said that since the issue of LAC is still not resolved at a diplomatic level, the Chinese should move back and both the countries should decide a system to dominate one line.
“I hope we will reach a discussion and they withdraw because we have been unable to resolve the LAC at a diplomatic level. It has not happened in 30 years and one does not expect it to happen now. We are very convinced that our line is right and our troops dominate it. The Chinese should move back and we should decide a system to dominate one line,” he said.
He argued that if we (India) have to go Finger 8 or Finger 4, “we should have a time table when we patrol it and on separate days the Chinese do the same, so that there is no confrontation till the time the boundary is sorted out”.
He said that since confidence building measures laid down to deal with situations when patrols came face to face and retreat through banner drills failed, both India and China should sit across the table and decide a system.
“Fighting with dandas, batons and spikes is going back to medieval warfare. Mature, historical, cultural nations with professional armies do not act this way. India is a nation with a standing of its own. We don’t want war, we want disengagement, but it has to be in a respectful way,” he said.