The government’s recalcitrance in divulging details to Parliament about the Chinese incursion at Tawang on December 9 flouts Constitutional sovereignty — from which Parliamentary sovereignty is derived — because Indian citizens have a right to know what took place and if any Indian territory was ever ceded to China during the endless talks. China claims the whole of Arunachal Pradesh as part of south Tibet, and 300 of its soldiers could never have attacked Indian troops with clubs and sticks without the approval of President Xi Jin Ping.
Using clubs and sticks is a gross violation of the Geneva Convention but as China is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, nothing will take place. China and India can never co-exist as neighbours unless we are willing to accept China’s hegemony and bullying because it is this enemy nation which is a permanent member of the Security Council.
“National security” cannot be used as a ploy to deny information to the nation for the simple reason that this much misunderstood phrase covers only troop movements, their exact location and strength. But knowledge of an enemy country’s incursions into Indian territory, or whether the Government has bartered away territory defended by our brave jawans, cannot be denied to the nation; this violates the people’s right to information and Parliamentary sovereignty.
In India, it is the doctrine of Constitutional sovereignty which is followed because the judiciary, the legislature and the executive derive their powers from the Constitution. The Preamble states that the people of India are supreme — while the legislature, the executive and the judiciary are organs of the state set up to protect the rights of the people, not deny them information and brainwash citizens into believing everything is okay along our borders when the converse is true.
The incursion of 300 soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army with the concomitant building of infrastructure along the disputed LAC has the approval of President Xi Jinping — who was feted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visited Mamallapuram near Chennai in 2019 with school children waving flags in a resuscitated version of “Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai”.
Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar claims the judiciary violated Parliamentary sovereignty when it struck down the 99th Amendment and the National Judicial Commission Act, 2015. But he is silent when the Government was forced to divulge information on the Chinese intrusion on December 9 to Parliament when it was in session. The clash came to light only after a relative of an injured jawan tweeted this information, which was picked up by a reporter from The Tribune, compelling the government to come clean on the clashes at Yangtse, 35 km from Tawang.
Successive Prime Ministers from Jawaharlal Nehru to Narendra Modi have vacillated on China. Nehru blindly believed what his blue-eyed boy Krishna Menon told him, and chose to disbelieve the warnings of General K S Thimayya that the Chinese were going to attack India, When Atal Behari Vajpayee took over, he allowed Tibet to be swallowed by China which is a gross violation of human rights because thousands of Tibetan monasteries have been razed with several thousand Buddhist monks forced to immolate themselves while India looked on.
Just as the Han Chinese displaced the indigenous Tibetans, China has resettled the same Han Chinese along the border villages of Arunachal Pradesh. What was once Indian territory may now become an integral part of China. This issue is subject to verification because the media will not be allowed to venture into these disputed territories on the specious ground of “national security”.
China’s so-called Great Helmsman Mao Zedong likened Tibet to China’s right hand palm, with five fingers on its periphery: Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and Arunachal Pradesh. Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, and Galwan are to be merged with China. The Narendra Modi Government has denied information to its own citizens because it is afraid of looking weak before the belligerent Chinese.
We have to accept that China has an economy which is five times larger than our own and Prime Minister Narendra Modi knows very well that we cannot afford a war with it. To that the reply would be that it is better to die with dignity rather than live with ignominy, as China continues to bully India in its never-ending expansionist aim to be the world’s third superpower.
What we fail to realise is that China and India cannot co-exist peacefully as neighbours unless India accepts Chinese bullying, and cedes its territory and indirectly its sovereignty to China. This may be why the spokesmen for the ruling party try to divert the attention of the people by pointing to the fact that the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation accepted Rs 1.35 crore as donations from the Chinese Embassy.
When caught in a bind, the easiest way out is to demonise those who ask inconvenient questions. It is easy to brand them as anti-nationals or Maoists because believing what the Government claims is a convenient escape route. We will continue to live in a make-believe world of invincibility while the Chinese continue their game of incorporating Indian territory as and when they choose.
Olav Albuquerque holds a PhD in law and is a senior journalist and advocate at the Bombay High Court
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)