TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In the wake of a bloody melee last week, India's government has given its army the green light to carry firearms on a section of the disputed border with China.
On June 16, a deadly brawl broke out between Indian and Chinese troops on the border in the Ladakh region, with the Indian side suffering 20 dead and the PLA allegedly reporting 43 dead and wounded. As per previous agreements, neither side discharged firearms, but the Chinese allegedly used rusted metal rods with nails attached to them.
The Indian side alleged that PLA troops had laid ambush to Indian soldiers, and opposition party members complained that Indian soldiers in the area cannot use weapons. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar explained that while Indian troops do, in fact, carry firearms, they follow a “long-standing practice not to use them during face-offs," reported Business Standard.
Provisions of bilateral agreements signed in 1996 and 2005 prohibit the use of firearms by the armies of either side in the event of a border clash. S Jaishankar explained that "All troops on border duty always carry arms, especially when leaving the post."
However, in the wake of the incident and outrage among the Indian public, news broke on Sunday (June 21) that India's government has changed the Rules of Engagement (RoE) on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to allow field commanders to use firearms. The new rules now give military commanders in the field "complete freedom of action" to use firearms under "extraordinary circumstances," reported Times of India.
The newspaper cited Prime Minister Narendra Modi as saying that the Indian Army has been given "full freedom" to deal with Chinese forces while defending India's border and the lives of its soldiers. Modi warned that any who try to "transgress our land" will be taught a "befitting lesson by our brave sons of soil," reported Business Insider.
"I want to assure you that our armed forces will leave no stone unturned to protect our borders," Modi added.