Citizens of the North East must be given a sense of belonging to India

Rohit Chandavakar
Thursday, 6 July 2017

While the Indian and international media’s attention is concentrated on the deals India is currently signing with Israel and most supporters of the BJP are basking in the glory of newly renovated India-Israel friendship, the signals coming from India’s eastern border are scary and dangerous, to say the least.

While the Indian and international media’s attention is concentrated on the deals India is currently signing with Israel and most supporters of the BJP are basking in the glory of newly renovated India-Israel friendship, the signals coming from India’s eastern border are scary and dangerous, to say the least.

China on Thursday made it clear that the country will not hold a bilateral meet with India on sidelines of G-20 summit in view of the escalated tension on the Indo-Chinese border in Sikkim. China’s aggression in Sikkim is now becoming a matter of worry because their concentration is on a geographical region known as the ‘chicken’s neck’ which is a narrow strip which connects the northeastern states through a corridor.
Earlier, the state of Arunachal Pradesh and now even Sikkim is on China’s radar and that becomes a big cause of concern because regional insurgency has been a headache for India since long in this region.

Most experts on Indo-Chinese matters claim that the reason China is able to make inroads into states like Arunachal and put pressure on India in the North Eastern region is that the local population over the past 60/70 years has always felt a sense of alienation. Experts say they get a sense that they are being ruled over in the past 60 years by a very dominating Central government which has a highhanded attitude towards them. Experts say this must now change.

China on Thursday was seen speaking in a very aggressive tone, “Beijing should reconsider its stance over Sikkim. Although, China recognised India’s annexation of Sikkim in 2003, it can readjust its stance on the matter,” said an editorial in the hardline Global Times, run by the Communist Party of China’s People’s Daily newspaper. “As long as there are voices in Chinese society supporting Sikkim’s independence, the voices will spread and fuel pro-independence appeals in Sikkim,” it said.

China and India have been locked in a standoff in the Dokalam area near the India, China, Bhutan tri-junction for the past 19 days after Chinese troops tried to build a road there. Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam and China claims as the Donglang region.

Global Times said New Delhi’s ‘regional hegemony is swelling to a tipping point’ and it needs to ‘pay for its provocations’.

It said: “In the past, China was wary of India playing the Dalai Lama card, but this card is already overplayed and will exert no additional effect on the Tibet question. But if Beijing adjusts its stance on India-sensitive issues, it could be a powerful card to deal with New Delhi.”

It also said China should lead the international community in ‘restoring Bhutan’s diplomatic and defence sovereignty’. The editorial accused India of having ‘brutally cracked down’ on Sikkim’s ‘revolts over sovereignty’ in the 1960s and 1970s. “New Delhi deposed the king of Sikkim in 1975 and manipulated the country’s parliament into a referendum to make Sikkim a state of India,” said the daily. The ruling party’s tabloid had quoted Chinese experts as saying that Beijing would be forced to use a ‘military way’ to end the standoff ‘if India refused to listen’.

China’s announcement on Thursday that it will not have any bilateral meeting or talks with India on the sidelines of the upcoming G20 summit has come as a shock to the Indian side. The crucial aspect for India is now to have a two-pronged policy of gathering international support to put pressure on China and to instil a sense of belonging among the local population of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Alienating this population will hurt India’s interest. The people of the North East have time and again been vocal about how they are treated like foreigners in their own land.

Sense of alienation
Most experts on Indo-Chinese matters claim that the reason China is able to make inroads into states like Arunachal and put pressure on India in the North Eastern region is that the local population over the past 60/70 years has always felt a sense of alienation. Experts say they get a sense that they are being ruled over since the past 60 years by a very dominating Central government which has a highhanded attitude towards them. Experts say this must now change.

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