The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Border boot on other foot

New Delhi, July 31: Indications emerging from home ministry sources have added an unpublicised element to the Chinese “incursion” into Arunachal Pradesh when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in Shanghai last month.

The sources said a team of Indian intelligence and Special Security Bureau officials, not the Chinese, had made the incursion.

The officials had crossed into the “disputed” area on the Chinese side, they said. So Delhi’s low-key response to the so-called incursion, they said, is not surprising.

Such forays into each other’s territory are common with both Indian and Chinese intelligence teams, the sources said. When patrols stray, they are sent back without fuss or publicity.

But the Chinese, the sources said, knew the latest instance was not one of regular soldiers losing their way and turning up on what they claim is their part of the “disputed” area across the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The Indian team was disarmed to show Beijing’s displeasure at the intrusion, they said.

Earlier, foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna had said that such intrusions had taken place in the past, but since 1996, both countries had an agreed principle to resolve such issues.

“The Chinese side clearly did not follow the guidelines agreed between the two countries,” Sarna had said, referring to the disarming in Arunachal. India, he said, had raised the issue with China at the appropriate diplomatic level.

Initial media reports had suggested it was the Chinese, not the Indians, who strayed into the other side. The home ministry sources, however, now claim otherwise.

Vajpayee disapproval

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today told the Rajya Sabha that the LAC incident “was not in keeping with the spirit” of a border agreement with China.

“There are perceptional differences between India and China on LAC and these came to the fore during the recent incident. It was not in keeping with the spirit of the agreement we had reached on the border issue,” Vajpayee said. India, he said, had already brought this to the notice of the Chinese authorities.

Earlier, external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha intervened to say the intrusion was “not premeditated”.

The Prime Minister also addressed Opposition attempts to underscore “contradictions” in his stand on Tibet. “How long are we going to carry the baggage of history' India stands at the crossroads of building its future. It is committed to certain principles. At stake is not only the respect I command but the respect the country commands,” he said.

“The PM’s words carry weight, they should be respected. Differences can exist; they should be voiced but the intention should not be to tease anyone,” Vajpayee added.

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