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India, China working on Ladakh peace formula: Alternate week patrolling after disengagement




Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, September 29:

India and China are working on a formula wherein their troops will patrol forward locations every alternate week so as to avoid violent face-offs between soldiers on the ground.

Top government sources said this has been the established practice on the countries’ border in Northeast India, and has worked well barring the occasional face-off. However, the border infrastructure development along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, as planned by India, will continue since the activities are well within territory it controls.

“In the Northeast, both sides patrol every week to their patrolling points. We know when the Chinese are coming, and they know when we are coming. This ensures that the troops don’t come face-to-face. This is something that can be done in the forward areas of Ladakh too,” ThePrint news portal quoted an Indian source as saying.

Local commanders in the Northeast speak to each other regularly — a practice that has continued even during the Ladakh stand-off, with the Chinese even saying that both sides must ensure that what happened in the northern sector (Ladakh) should not be allowed to develop there.

“However, we are not leaving anything to chance. Our strict vigil continues all along the LAC. There has not been any kind of aggressive deployment by the Chinese in the Northeast,” the source said.

However, the sources underlined that the formula being worked out will come into effect only when disengagement at the LAC is completed.

India insists that China needs to take steps for disengagement first, since it was the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that moved in.

According to previous India-China agreements, each side is supposed to have a patrol strength of 15-20 troopers.

However, since the 2017 Doklam stand-off, when India stepped into Bhutanese territory and blocked China’s illegal road construction activity, the PLA started bringing in bigger patrols along the LAC.

“From 15-20, the number increased to 30 and so on. It has been happening over a period of time. It came to such a point that they started coming en masse and surrounding our troops.

This resulted in scuffles, and that led to stone-throwing. Then, the Chinese started bringing in clubs and sharp weapons like machetes,” a source said.

This is what happened on 15 June in the Galwan Valley. “It was a melee. We could not open fire because the bullets could have hit our own,” the source said.

India has made it clear to China that its soldiers will open fire to defend themselves, and Chinese tactics of “using mass” will not be tolerated.

China has more than doubled its air bases, air defence positions, and heliports near the LAC since the Doklam crisis.

“The 2017 Doklam crisis appears to have shifted China’s strategic objectives, with China more than doubling its total number of air bases, air defence positions, and heliports near the Indian border over the past three years,” a report by leading global geopolitical intelligence platform Stratfor had said.

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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’



By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners



By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered



A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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