ITBP & Line of Actual Control
- The transgression by China's People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at Barahoti in Uttarakhand reveals the large-size patrols by China to assert their claim while also testing India across the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
- The need of the hour for the Indian side is better operational synergy between the Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
- The increase in number of troops in the Chinese patrols is to avoid any surprise, or avoid being overwhelmed by Indian troops in case there is a flare-up, as the Indian Army and the ITBP are located all along and close to the LAC.
- Since the PLA’s base from the LAC in the Barahoti area is 30 km on their side, they will take time to respond.
- The LAC is the demarcation that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory.
- India considers the LAC to be 3,488 km long, while the Chinese consider it to be only around 2,000 km.
- It is divided into three sectors: the eastern sector which spans Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, the middle sector in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, and the western sector in Ladakh.
- The alignment of the LAC in the eastern sector is along the 1914 McMahon Line, and there are minor disputes about the positions on the ground as per the principle of the high Himalayan watershed.
- This pertains to India’s international boundary as well, but for certain areas such as Longju and Asaphila. The line in the middle sector is the least controversial but for the precise alignment to be followed in the Barahoti plains.
- The major disagreements are in the western sector where the LAC emerged from two letters written by Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai to PM Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959, after he had first mentioned such a ‘line’ in 1956.
- In his letter, Zhou said the LAC consisted of “the so-called McMahon Line in the east and the line up to which each side exercises actual control in the west”. Shivshankar Menon has explained in his book Choices: Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy that the LAC was “described only in general terms on maps not to scale” by the Chinese.
- After the 1962 War, the Chinese claimed they had withdrawn to 20 km behind the LAC of November 1959. Zhou clarified the LAC again after the war in another letter to Nehru: “To put it concretely, in the eastern sector it coincides in the main with the so-called McMahon Line, and in the western and middle sectors it coincides in the main with the traditional customary line which has consistently been pointed out by China”.
- During the Doklam crisis in 2017, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson urged India to abide by the “1959 LAC”.
Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)
- Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBPF) is a Central Armed Police Force functioning under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
- The ITBPF was raised on 24th October, 1962, and is a border guarding police force specializing in high altitude operations. ITBPF is deployed for border guarding duties from Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Jachep La in Arunachal Pradesh covering 3488 km of the India-China border.
- ITBPF deployments range from 9000 ft to 18700 ft in picturesque and rugged mountain terrain which require a certain degree of toughness
- Apart from guarding the border; the Force is also deployed for Anti Naxal operations and other internal security duties.
- ITBP is deployed on border guarding duties from Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Jachep La in Arunachal Pradesh covering 3488 km of Sino-India Border.
- ITBP is a specialised mountain force and most of the officers and men are professionally trained mountaineers and skiers.
- Being the first responder for natural disasters, ITBP has been carrying out numerous rescue and relief operations across the country.
- Headquarters of ITBP is located at New Delhi.