'Technical glitch' delays India-China hotline

'Technical glitch' delays India-China hotline

Nearly five years after India and China agreed to operate a hotline between the two DGMOs, the two armies are yet to set up the communication link.

The hotline, conceived as one of the key measures to de-escalate the flare-ups between the border guarding troops, was delayed due to "technical reasons", sources told DH.

Creation of the link was agreed upon by the two governments when they signed the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement in December 2013. "The two sides may also consider establishing a hotline between the military headquarters of the two countries. Specific arrangements shall be decided upon through mutual consultations between the two sides," says the pact.

Earlier this month, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat said the process to set up the hotline was on. "There is a debate whether to set up the link with Beijing or Lhasa. But we will have it soon," he had stated.

More than a year ago, Gen Rawat's predecessor Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag had expressed the same hope on establishing the telephone link. "Surveys were carried out to set up the hotline between the two DGMOs. It should happen in the coming months," Gen Suhag had said.

India and Pakistan Director General of Military Operation (DGMO) have a hotline between them and the officials speak on the hotline at least once a week. In case of any escalation of military action on the disputed border, the two DGMOs discuss de-escalation measures on the hotline.

India and China share a 3,488-km Line of Actual Control between them, which is a disputed, non-demarcated boundary where transgressions occur because of the two countries' "different perceptions" about the border.

Talks on back-burner

Since last year's Doklam crisis when troops from both nations had a 72-day-long stand-off on a territory dispute inside Bhutan, regular military exchanges between Indian Army and People's Liberation Army were put on the back burner. The annual hand-in-hand exercise between the two armies was also suspended.

The ceremonial border personnel meeting between Indian and Chinese field commanders resumed last week with two such congregations at Daulat Beigh Oldi (DBO) and Chusul in the Ladakh region on Republic Day.

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