R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, July 23 - Though India does not foresee a war with China in immediate future despite the Doka La face-off, the Indian forces are fully capable of defending its own territory in case of any eventuality. Moreover, India should maintain a firm stand on the issue as China is trying to wage a psychological war on the issue. These are the views expressed by noted security expert Lt Gen (Retd) DB Shekhatkar.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Lt Gen Shekhatkar, who also headed a committee formed by the government to suggest measures to enhance the combat capabilities of the defence forces, said that India is not a war monger, but “if a war is thrust upon us, the armed forces are fully capable of defending the country’s territory.”
But at the same time, he expressed the view that both India and China do not want a war and the neighbouring country is only trying to indulge in a psychological war with India. He pointed out that China has been issuing statements through the state controlled media for the consumption of the people and so far, no senior minister of the Chinese government has come out openly to issue a statement. On the other hand, India’s External Affairs Minister gave a statement clarifying the country’s position on the issue.
Lt Gen Shekhatkar, who is well versed with the issues related to the international border with China as he had commanded the 4 Corps of the Indian Army, said that the Doka La area, where the Chinese tried to construct a road, does not belong to China. He said that a team of the Indian Army was in the area as a part of training exercise with the Bhutanese Army and that is how India first got involved with the matter.
He expressed the view that the Government of India must maintain a firm stand on the issue and if India backs out, it would encourage the Chinese. He also asserted that if India allows China to bully Bhutan, China would try to dominate the other neighbours, including Myanmar, Bangladesh, etc., to exercise its control over the region.
The former Army officer said that China respects power and firmness and if India maintains a firm stand on the issue, the neighbouring country would think twice before indulging in any such activity in future. He also said that the situation has changed a lot since 1962 and China also knows very well that the Indian Army today is much better prepared to defend its own territory in case of any eventuality.
Lt Gen Shekhatkar also expressed the view that the face-off would not last for a very long time. “During the Kargil war, the Chinese troops tried to intrude into the Indian territory in the Kameng sector ahead of Tawang, but the Indian Army stood firm and the face-off lasted for a couple of months before the Chinese retreated as soon as the snowfall started. I strongly believe that if India maintains a firm stand, the Chinese Army would retreat once the snowfall starts,” he added.
Lt Gen Shekhatkar said that though the Chinese government is launching propaganda through the state-controlled media, the younger generation of China is not interested on the issue. The younger generation is not even discussing the issue on the social media, which is a clear indication that the youths of that country are not buying the arguments put forward by their government.
At the same time, he suggested that at this juncture, the people of India must keep their political differences aside and stay united in the interest of the nation. “If we show any difference of opinion, it would only encourage China and Pakistan,” he added.
Lt Gen Shekhatkar further suggested that the Government of India must use all the diplomatic channels to ensure that the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean are kept free from Chinese influence, while efforts should also be made to raise the Chinese actions in the United Nations. He also pointed out that the positive for India is that apart from Pakistan, China does not have any neighbouring country, which it can call very friendly and it is an established fact that China’s economy would suffer badly without economic cooperation with India.