India’s negotiating strategy did not factor in the lessons from Wangdung and Doklam

In an article 25 years ago, after the resolution on August 20 of the Wangdung intrusion along Sumdorong Chu, I had asked: ‘Why are we quitting our territory?’

The question can be asked again. A study of Wangdung near the infamous Thagla Ridge — 20 km south of McMahon Line and beyond the limit of Indian patrolling — is instructive after the PLA incursions in eastern Ladakh. If only civilian and military officers had examined the earlier intrusion — the rapid reaction of local military commanders, swift concentration of forces, offensive spirit in dominating Wangdung and a firm negotiating strategy — we could have avoided the present fait accompli.

On June 16, 1986, the PLA pre-emptively occupied Wangdung, a seasonal post that used to be held by the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau. 12 Assam and 9 Guards occupied the Lungrola and Hathungla Ridges by early July and by October, with forward elements of 12 Assam establishing posts along four spurs surrounding Wangdung — two forward checkposts 150 yards from those of the PLA were created. 12 Assam was replaced by 3/5 Gorkhas.

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