Ladakh sector, showing LAC and key areas (Photo: Australian Strategic Policy Institute)

Ajai Shukla, who has served in the Indian Army and is one of the leading strategic affairs experts in India, has in an interview accused the Government of purveying a ‘completely false picture’ of the disengagement on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

In an interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire, Shukla, who is the Strategic Affairs Editor of The Business Standard, claimed that the Government was misleading the media and planting false information. Shukla is not alone in making this claim. Several veterans and a section of the strategic community also maintain that the information fed to the media by unnamed sources in the Government and through WhatsApp forwards are not credible.

While Shukla has consistently maintained his stand in the column he writes for The Business Standard, in the interview to Karan Thapar, he makes the following points:

  • China’s People’s Liberation Army has refused to withdraw in the Hot Springs area and at Gogra Heights …
  • The Chinese have already intruded 2-4 kms into Indian-claimed territory … the entire buffer zone will be set up in Indian territory. Yet the Chinese are refusing to concede even this. At Hot Springs and Gogra not only is there no disengagement but, additionally, the Chinese are also refusing to vacate Indian territory.
  • The government is misleading the media and putting pressure on the army. The army is spouting a line given by the NSA’s office.
  • If the claims of disengagement by the Government are true, why no army or government official is prepared to put his name to the briefings?
  • Why is there no reference to this disengagement from the Chinese side?
  • At Galwan disengagement has taken place but the buffer zone that has been created is almost entirely on Indian territory.
  • India has accepted, under Chinese pressure, that Y-Nallah will be considered the marker for the LAC rather than PP-14. As a result, India’s troops are now pushed back some 2.4 kms from PP-14, the traditional marker for the LAC, whilst China is only 400 metres from this point.
  • Galwan disengagement has clearly happened at India’s cost.
  • The LAC has shifted westwards i.e. into Indian-claimed territory. He said it had shifted 12-15 kms in Depsang, 1 km in Galwan, 2-4 kms in Gogra and 8 kms in Pangong Lake.
  • This would be the largest loss of territory to China since the 1962 war.”
  • On the 19th of April intelligence had told the army about Chinese military movements in the LAC area but the army considered it normal spring time activity by the Chinese.

Shukla told Karan Thapar that he stood by everything he had written and pointed out that the government has not denied anything he’s written about Hot Springs and Gogra or the LAC being pushed westwards.