List of disputed territories of India
There are several disputed territories of India. A territorial dispute is a disagreement over the possession or control of land between two or more states or over the possession or control of land by a new state and occupying power after it has conquered the land from a former state no longer currently recognized by the new state.
India faces territorial issues with some of its neighbors – People's Republic of China, Pakistan and Nepal. It also has border dispute with Republic of China on Taiwan. India has resolved its un-demarcated border with Bhutan, which included multiple irregularities. India also resolved its border disputes with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
China itself has two claimants of being its real rulers, People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC; commonly called "Taiwan"). They do not recognise the legitimacy of each other. The PRC has actual control of their areas on India-China border, ROC currently has no shared land or maritime border with India. Their views are presented below. Line of Actual Control (LAC) is presently the operational border between India-China.
People's Republic of China's positionEdit
The Depsang Plains are located on the border of the Indian union territory of Ladakh and the disputed zone of Aksai Chin. The Chinese Army occupied most of the plains during its 1962 war with India, while India controls the western portion of the plains. The dispute remains unresolved.
Arunachal Pradesh is a state of India created on 20 January 1972, located in the far northeast. It borders the states of Assam and Nagaland to the south, and shares international borders with Burma in the east, Bhutan in the west, and China in the north. The majority of the territory is claimed by China as part of South Tibet. The northern border of Arunachal Pradesh reflects the McMahon Line, a 1914 treaty between the United Kingdom and the Tibetan government which was never accepted by the Chinese government, was also considered invalid by Tibetans due to unmet condition specified in the treaty, and not broadly enforced by the Indian government until 1950. This territory is administered by India.
Republic of China's positionEdit
Throughout the Cold War, the Government of the Republic of China on Taiwan had the same understanding on the China-India border dispute as the PRC. In 1962, ROC's Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that they did not recognise the legality of McMahon Line. The same year western countries increased pressure on the then ROC leader, Chiang Kai-shek, to recognise the legality of McMahon Line in order to isolate Beijing. However, Chiang dismissed McMahon Line as 'imperialist imposition on China'. In February 1987, India's move to elevate the status of 'Arunachal centrally administered region' to the state of Arunachal Pradesh was declared null and void by ROC's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry, in a formal statement, stated that it did not recognise 'illegal occupation' of ROC territory south of McMahon Line and the establishment of 'Arunachal Pradesh state' was an illegal act. In 1995, Ambassador Teng Pei-Yin (ROC's first representative to India) in response to Indian member of the parliament, stated that ROC did not recognise McMahon Line. However, Teng was the last ROC official who made a statement against the McMahon Line. Since then, ROC has not made any statement on China-India dispute.
Chinese Military has an integrated Western Theater Command across the whole LAC with India. Indian Military has divided the LAC into 3 sectors - the western sector across Ladakh and the Chinese-held Aksai Chin, the central sector across Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand states, and the eastern sector across Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh states. Similarly, Indian Airforce has New Delhi-based Western Air Command, Prayagraj-based Central Air Command, and Shillong-based Eastern Air Command with several AFS (Air Force Stations/Bases), AGL (Advanced Landing Ground airports) and helipads to cover the LAC.
List of disputed areas from west to east along the India-China border:
|Disputed area||Administrative||Controlled by||Airbases / AGLs||Comments / Geostrategic context|
|Trans-Karakoram Tract (Shaksgam)||Ladakh (Azad Kashmir)||Xinjiang||China (since 1963)||Daulat Beg Oldi||Ceded to China in 1963 by Pakistan subject to the resolution of Kashmir dispute with India. Ref:|
|Aksai Chin||Ladakh||Xinjiang||China (since 1962)||Daulat Beg Oldi AGL, Leh Airport||Ref:|
|Demchok sector||Ladakh (Leh district)||Tibet (Ngari Prefecture)||India and China south and north of Indus River respectively.||Fukche||Ref:|
|Chumar (2 separate noncontiguous Chumur North & Chumur South subsectors)||Ladakh (Leh district)||Tibet||India||Nyoma, Padum AGL, helipad at Chumur.||Ref:|
|Kaurik||Himachal Pradesh (Lahaul and Spiti district of)||Tibet||India||Chinyalisaur Airport AGL, Pathankot Airport||Ref:|
|Tashigang-Shipki La||Himachal Pradesh (Kinnaur district)||Tibet||India||Chinyalisaur AGL, Pathankot Airport||Shipki La, with Indian military post, is an important pass for trade. |
|Sang-Nelang-Pulam Sumda||Uttarakhand (Uttarkashi district)||Tibet||India||Chinyalisaur AGL, Pathankot Airport||Area also covers Jadhang villages.Ref:|
|Barahoti||Uttarakhand (Chamoli district)||Tibet||India||Chinyalisaur AGL, Pithoragarh Airport AGL||Area also covers Silakang Lapthal Sangcha Malla villages. |
|Arunachal Pradesh||Arunachal Pradesh||Tibet||India||Tawang AFS & 7 AGLs (Aalo, Mechuka, Pasighat, Tuting, Vijoynagar, Walong, Ziro)||Most of the state is claimed by China. |
Within the relevant geostrategic context, Doklam and Andaman-Malacca Strait-South China Sea shipping lane are also important aspect.
- Doklam: It is a dispute between Bhutan and China near the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction bordering Sikkim state of India, and Bhutan was aided by India in the dispute. The area is of strategic importance to all three countries. This lies close to India's Siliguri Chickenneck Corridor where a Chinese military advance of less than 130 kilometres (81 mi) would cut off Bhutan, part of West Bengal and all of North-East India, an area containing almost 50 million people, scenario which arose during the war between India and China in 1962. India has embarked on a slew of Northeastern India connectivity and Look-East transnational Connectivity projects to create multiple alternatives to Silliguri corridor, including through Bangladesh, National Waterways and seaports, to mitigate the risk of being cut off.
- Ten Degree Channel and South China Sea dispute: World's busiest Sea line of communication (SLOC) passes through Strait of Malacca and Ten Degree Channel in the exclusive economic zone of India protected by India's Andaman and Nicobar Command. It is a geostrategic choke point for China since this is crossed by over 94,000 merchant ships every year carrying world's 40% freight trade between China and other nations. US$5 trillion annual shipping trade passes through the SLOC and Choke point|chokepoints of Southeast Asia and South China Sea (SCS). 80% of the global trade passes through Indian Ocean SLOC in oil and natural gas critical for advanced economies. India, Australia, Japan and USA have comprised the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) to deal with China as part of their Indo-Pacific strategy.
Kashmir conflict is a territorial conflict primarily between India and Pakistan in which China is playing a third-party role. Conflict started after the partition of India in 1947 as both India and Pakistan claimed the entirety of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan recognizing Chinese sovereignty over the Trans-Karakoram Tract and Aksai Chin since 1963. India controls 70% of its population and approximately 55% of the land area including Jammu, Kashmir Valley, most of Ladakh, and Siachen Glacier. Pakistan controls approximately 30% of land including Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, however Kashmir’s king gave the complete Kashmir to India since the population of Kashmir was majorly of Kashmiri pandits who were killed brutally in 1990s by Muslim population, and China controls the remaining 15% of the land including Aksai Chin and mostly uninhabited Trans-Karakoram Tract, and part of the Demchok sector.
Sir Creek, a 96-km (60-mi) tidal estuary in the uninhabited marshlands of the Indus River Delta on the border between India and Pakistan which flows into the Arabian Sea and separates Gujarat state in India from Sindh province in Pakistan. The long-standing India-Pakistan Sir Creek border dispute stems from the demarcation "from the mouth of Sir Creek to the top of Sir Creek, and from the top of Sir Creek eastward to a point on the line designated on the Western Terminus". From this point onward, the boundary is unambiguously fixed as defined by the Tribunal Award of 1968.
Major areas of dispute between India and Nepal are Kalapani, Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh, Susta, Mechi, and Tanakpur. An estimated 60,000 hectares of border land is currently disputed between India and Nepal.
Although claimed by Nepal, Kalapani has been administered by Indian army since the 1962 border war with China. The 1816 Treaty of Sugauli signed by Kingdom of Nepal and British India in 1816 utilizes the Kali River as Nepal's western boundary with India. However, lack of consensus on what is the precise location of the river Kali has resulted in dispute over whether the land consisting Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh is part of India or Nepal. Some scholars suggest that the lack of consensus is because of British cartographers who kept on shifting the line demarcating the river eastwards for strategic reasons. However, there are also some scholars who believe that lack of consensus is due to the shift in the course of the river over time.
In November 2019, India issued a new political map of India which showed Kalapani as part of India. The new political map of India was rejected by Nepal. Mass protest against India took place across Nepal and outside Indian embassy in Nepal. Protesters accused India of occupying their land. In May 2020, Indian Defence minister, Rajnath Singh inaugurated a 80-km road from Dharchula to Lipulekh pass. Nepal protested against the construction of road in Lipulekh area. Lipulekh area is currently under India's control. However, government of Nepal states that the Lipulekh area belongs to Nepal. On 20 May 2020, Nepal launched its own map showing Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh as parts of its own territory. The new map was subsequently approved by the Nepali parliament on 18 June 2020. India opposed the move, claiming that the decision to include Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani is not based on evidence or historical facts.
On 15 June 2020, Indian border police, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) reported that border pillars which served as demarcation, were missing along the India-Nepal border. SSB also reported that Nepali border police has established five new border outpost near the disputed area. On 19 June, Nepal started deploying its troops near the Kalapani and other disputed areas. The troops had established camps and they were working on building a helipad in the area. In the same month Nepali Army Chief, General Purna Chandra Thapa, after visiting Kalapani border area, stated that Nepali army will start building army barracks and border outposts near the Kalapani area. On 21 June, Indian media reported that radio stations in Nepal were conducting a propaganda campaign against India by playing anti-India songs.
Susta is another territory which is disputed between Nepal and India. It currently controlled by India and is a part of Bihar province. Residents of a village in Susta state that Susta belongs to Nepal and they are Nepali citizens. The 1816 Treaty of Sugauli defined Gandaki river as the international boundary between India and Nepal. The right bank of Gandaki river was under Nepal’s control while the left bank was under India's control. Susta village was initially on the right bank when the treaty was signed and it was a part of Nepal. However, over the years, the Gandaki river changed its course and Susta moved to the left bank and is now currently under India's control. The Government of Nepal has repeatedly stated that Susta belongs to Nepal and Indian government should return the area.
South Talpatti (as it was known internationally) or Sheikh Mujib Island (as it was known by Bangladeshi Awami league supporters) was a small uninhabited offshore sandbar landform in the Bay of Bengal, off the coast of the Ganga-Brahmaputra Delta region. It emerged in the Bay of Bengal on the Bangladesh side of river that makes the boundary between India and Bangladesh in the aftermath of the Bhola cyclone in 1970, and disappeared before or during Cyclone Aila in 2009. In March 2010, Sugata Hazra of the School of Oceanographic Studies at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India, said that the island had disappeared and that sea level rise caused by climate change was a factor.
The enclaves were reputedly part of a high stake card or chess games centuries ago between two regional kings, the Maharaja of Cooch Behar and the Nawab of Rangpur and the result of a confused outcome of a treaty between the Kingdom of Koch Bihar and the Mughal Empire. After the partition of India in 1947, Cooch Behar district was merged with India and Rangpur went to then East Pakistan, which became Bangladesh in 1971. The prime ministers of India and Bangladesh signed a Land Boundary Agreement in 1974 to exchange enclaves and simplify the international border. In 1974 Bangladesh approved a proposed treaty, Land Boundary Agreement, to exchange all enclaves within each other's territories, but India did not ratify it. Another agreement was agreed upon in 2011 to exchange enclaves and adverse possessions. A revised version of the agreement was finally adopted by the two countries 41 years later, when the Parliament of India passed the 100th Amendment Act to the Indian Constitution on May 7, 2015. Inside the main part of Bangladesh, there were 111 Indian enclaves (17,160.63 acres), while inside the main part of India, there were 51 Bangladeshi enclaves (7,110.02 acres). In respect of adverse possessions, India received 2,777.038 acres of land and transferred 2267.682 acres to Bangladesh. India ratified the agreement by constitutional amendment in May 2015. Under this agreement, the enclave residents could continue to reside at their present location or move to the country of their choice. The adverse possession of Berubari went to Bangladesh. The unmarked borders between the nations were also finally solved regarding Daikhata-Dumabari, Muhurichar river island and Pyrdiwah.
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