GUWAHATI – Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping recently agreed to maintain peaceful border and to direct the armies of their respective countries to avoid Doklam type standoff, noted security analyst Lt Gen (Retd) DB Shekhatkar has expressed the view that India cannot afford to lower its guards along the international border.Talking to The Assam Tribune, Lt Gen Shekhatkar, who headed the committee of experts formed by the Ministry of Defence to recommend measures to enhance the combat capabilities and rebalance defence expenditure, said that such discussions were held in the past, but unfortunately, every time, China created problems along the international border. He said, “if a country wants to prevent a war, it should be prepared for it. If a country is not prepared, a war can be thrust upon it.” He said that preparedness does not mean that a country is eager for a war. But under any circumstance, India should not blindly trust China and lower its guards along the international border to be taken off guard, he added.
Lt Gen Shekhatkar said several times in the past, the Chinese betrayed India with incursions into the Indian territory. Referring to the Doklam stand off last year, he pointed out that luckily an Indian Army unit was deployed at the place at that time for a training exercise with the Bhutanese Army and the Chinese move could be detected. “I have always been saying that China respects power. The Doklam standoff ended peacefully because India stood firm,” he said.
Welcoming the decision to introduce joint patrolling by Indian in Chinese army personnel in a few strategic areas along the international border, Lt Gen Shekhatkar suggested that there should be regular communication between the senior officers of both sides to resolve disputes. He said that there should be a hotline between the Director General of Military Operation (DGMO) of India with his counterpart in China. Similarly, there should be hotlines between the Eastern Command Chief of the Indian Army with his Chinese counterpart and the GOCs of 4 Corps deployed in Tezpur and 14 Corps deployed in Ladakh with their counterparts in the neighbouring country.
Calling for increasing deployments in the eastern sector, Lt Gen Shekhatkar admitted that over the years, Indian Army deployments in certain areas along the border with China, particularly in the area called “Fish Tail” was very thin. But on the positive side, India has started increasing deployments in this sector as the Doklam standoff was a good lesson for the country. Though Doklam is in Bhutanese territory, Chinese control over the territory could have been dangerous for India and “we must be prepared to tackle any attempt by China to take control over strategic locations and keep a close watch all along the international border,” he added. He also said that the deployments in the eastern sector are increasing not because India is apprehending any trouble immediately, but because it is wise to be prepared for any eventuality.