NSAB team in Ladakh to assess situation in view of Chinese skirmishes
JAMMU, Aug 6: In the backdrop of ever-increasing Chinese skirmishes on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a team of National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) headed by its Chairman and former Foreign Secretary, Shyam Saran, is in Ladakh to ascertain the ground situation. On return, the team will give detailed feedback to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and National Security Council for working out a strategy to check the incursions in future. Reliable sources told EXCELSIOR that taking serious note of frequent Chinese skirmishes along the Line of Actual Control in Leh district during the past few months, Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh has deputed National Security Advisory Board team to visit the border areas of the Ladakh region and personally take stock of the ground situation.
The team, which arrived at Leh on August 2, has so far visited the Daulat Beg Oldi sector, Demchok in south of Aksai Chin, Chumur and Pangong areas to personally assess the situation. These areas have seen major incidents of the Chinese incursions during the past few months. In Daulat Beg Oldi sector, the Chinese Army had adopted aggressive posture in the month of May and even pitched tents while as in Demchok area the Chinese troops got work on link-road stopped in the past. In Chumur area, the Chinese Army ingressed 200 meters in the recent past and even stopped Indian Army from patrolling the area. “Besides assessing the situation vis-à-vis presence of Indian forces in these areas and getting information about the Chinese incursions in these areas, the National Security Advisory Board Chairman also had assessment of infrastructure constructed under the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) scheme in the villages near the Line of Actual Control”, sources informed.
Shyam Saran, who was India’s Foreign Secretary in 2004, also had detailed meeting with the Army, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), representatives of the intelligence agencies, representative of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Council (LAHDC), Leh, Deputy Commissioner and former Member Parliament. The motive behind holding meeting with the LAHDC and representatives of the people was to elicit their views about the aggressive postures being made by the Chinese Army during the past several months besides to ascertain the requirement about the creation of infrastructure in border areas, sources said.
It is pertinent to mention here that National Security Advisory Board is an important element of the National Security Council system. The NSAB is a multi-disciplinary body comprising persons of eminence from outside Government with the principal function of providing long- term prognosis and analysis to the National Security Council and recommending solutions and policy options to the issues raised by them.
When contacted, Executive Councilor from Changthang area Gurmet Dorjey, who met Shyam Saran and his team on behalf of Hill Council, conveyed that vacuum which gets created due to restrictions on the movement of nomads towards the pastures in the forward locations is acting as blessings in disguise for the Chinese Army. “We sought intervention of National Security Advisory Board Chairman in allowing nomads towards the areas under the control of India so that Chinese Army don’t dominate the same taking the undue advantage of isolation of these areas”, he said. “We also stressed that restrictions on movement of domestic as well as foreign tourists in several areas particularly on forward locations should be lifted in order to ensure frequent movement of people from this side as this will restrict Chinese Army from unnecessary claiming one or another area as part of their territory”, he added.
Former Member Parliament, P Namgial, while apprising the NSAB about the status of infrastructure in the border villages, sought Shyam Saran’s intervention for creation of more infrastructure so that border people remain inhabited in their villages and don’t move out for want of amenities and facilities. “Our borders are safe only because of nomads and there is a dire need to encourage them to frequently visit the pastures along the Line of Actual Control instead of putting restrictions on the same”, Mr Namgial said when contacted, adding “the visiting team was asked to get the proposal vis-à-vis construction of tunnel in between the area near Tso Mori lake and a village in Spiti area of Himachal Pradesh to ensure all weather road connectivity to the Ladakh region besides opening of Kailash Mansarovar yatra from the Ladakh region”.
According to the sources, the National Security Advisory Board received suggestions from various quarters for providing mobile network in all the 118 villages of the Leh district for connectivity of border people with the district headquarters and increasing funding under Border Area Development Programme (BADP). “The team will visit different forward locations of Kargil and interact with the Army and ITBP before returning to Leh on Thursday. They will leave for Union Capital on Friday and brief National Security Council about the ground situation in the Ladakh region”, sources said