While the LAC has remained peaceful for over 45 years, troops from both sides occasionally track each other and follow patrols that take place along the border, some of which are perceived as committing transgressions.
One practice that is occasionally followed is the ‘tailing’ of a border patrol to ensure that it does not cross over the perceived LAC. During such a manoeuvre, troops track the border patrol party for kilometres, increasing the probability of a confrontation.
In a fresh move, Beijing has proposed during the recent visit by the Indian Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma that tailing be done away with. It is also believed to have proposed doing away with night patrols along the LAC.
Sources said that when the Indian side made the point that procedures are at place at local commander levels to ensure that such matters are resolved, Beijing insisted that a formal mechanism be put into place to affirm the policy. India is now learnt to have asked for a draft proposal from Beijing that it would consider after taking inputs from all stakeholders.
“We already have informal agreements between local commanders not to tail or control border patrols but China is now looking at a written agreement. We have asked for a draft text,” government officials said. Sources in the armed forces said that this is the first time that China has asked for such an agreement. While sources said the step would be in the right direction to further tone down any tension along the border they are puzzled at China’s insistence on a written agreement.
“It is true that such an agreement would reduce chances of a confrontation but it would also reduce our ability to know what the other side is up to. It may also get more difficult to project our perception of the LAC,” an official said, describing the agreement as a “double-edged sword”.
A formal call on the matter will take place only after a considered decision in consultation with all concerned stakeholders. However, other confidence building measures, including the resumption of bilateral military exercises, had been agreed upon during the visit.