The Treaty of Amritsar, between the East India Company and the Dogra ruler, Raja Gulab Singh on 16 March 1846 was a watershed, for it not only created the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir under the suzerainty of the British Indian Empire, it also virtually defined the southern, eastern and western boundaries of a new political creation that elevated the Dogras into being the key players controlling northern India.
Given the nature of the terrain, the Indo-Tibet boundary was always going to be a problem. Apart from its vastness—extending from the Karakorams in the west to the area beyond the Lohit River in the east—the actual demarcation could never be done.
His fighting credentials apart, Gulab Singh’s overall grasp of the strategic situation in northern India at that time was quite extraordinary.
A recap of major events during the early period extending from Ashoka to Ranjit Singh helps us to understand the region and the importance of modern day frontiers better.
A hundred years have passed since the diabolical plan to split India was first conceived and tabled, and yet successive generations in both India and Pakistan, and in Kashmir, have failed to see the truth for what it is.
‘The corruption levels in the state has created an economic disparity which is going to create mayhem! The administration has forgotten what happened in 1947 and 65. Money is pouring in, but it never goes beyond a select few.’
The army chief, General Shankar Roy Chaudhuri saw the tapes, so did the PM, Narasimha Rao. Lt Gen Padmanabhan was the DGMI (later chief) and we screened the four tapes shot with the Hizbul, unedited, to a select group of Ambassadors and Military Attaches and editors.
By occupying areas in Pangong Tso lake region till Finger 4, China’s PLA has effectively taken over India’s buffer zone territory and reduced its claim line by 8 km from what it was in 1960. There is another matter that is hardly occupying any media attention. The entire focus is on Chinese occupying the Indian side of LAC on the ground, but what about the mountain tops.
It is time we reminded ourselves of the prophetic words of Sardar Patel and Sri Aurobindo as we face renewed threats across the Himalayas. It is true the situation today is different from the one in 1950 or 60s. And yet the validity of the lesson remains: the firmness with which both spoke regarding national security has not lost its relevance.