Territories and borders defines the existence of the country. It provides the jurisdiction for a country within which its authority prevails. India shares border with 6 neighboring countries namely; Pakistan, China, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Disputes have been taking place in these regions due to various reasons. Sometimes it may be due to terrorism and sometimes as at present due to the territorial jurisdiction. LAC(line of actual control) and LOC(line of control) segregates Indian territorial jurisdiction from that of China and Pakistan respectively. But, in recent times there are few conflicts in defining these areas regarding the regions of the particular countries jurisdiction.
Territorial conflicts at present
India shares its 15,106.7km territorial border with its neighboring countries. But there are some ‘de-facto’ regions or some common regions near the borders which give rise to disputes among the countries with respect to its territorial jurisdiction. This may arise due to cartographical errors or due to the change in the river direction flowing through that region.
Pakistan has illegally and forcibly occupied 78,000 sq. km of the Indian territory popularly known as POK(Pakistan occupied Kashmir). Siachen Glacier located in the eastern Karakorams just to the east of the line segregating India and Pakistan was also a disputed region but at present it is under Indian administration since 1984. Saltoro ridge is another region located in the hearts of Karakorams and to the southwest side of the Siachen Glacier. India claim it be part of Jammu and Kashmir union territory where as the Pakistan claims it to be part of Gilgit-Baltistan. Sir Creek , 96km long strip of water in the Rann of Kutch marshlands is another disputed region between India and Pakistan.
Sri Lanka has maritime boundary with India. The 30 km shallow sea, the Palk strait lies between the countries. Kachchatheevu Island in the Palk strait was given by India to Sri Lanka in 1974. There were tensions about which country owned this island, but at present peace rests at the region.
The boundary disputes between India and Bangladesh were completely resolved by the Land Boundary Agreement of 1974 and its protocol of 2011. In 2015 it was even ratified . When it comes to India’s relation with Myanmar, there is no such border disputes.
At present, there are tremendous territorial disputes taking place in border regions of China and Nepal. The Line of Actual Control/ LAC for India is 3,488 km long, however for China it is 2,000 km long. It is located in 3 different sectors; Eastern sector (Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim); Middle sector (Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh); Western sector (Ladakh). Major disagreements is at western and eastern sectors of LAC. India is undergoing infrastructural development along its area of LAC, which is highly opposed by China. Few weeks back there was invasion of Chineese troop into the Indian territorial region at Pangong Tso and Galwan river valley along the western sector of LAC. Initially there were talks about vacating the area but later both the country’s army clashed where 20 soldiers of Indian Army died.
India shares 1,751 km long border with Nepal. Kalapani and Lipulekh is the most disputed area between the two countries. India claims Kalapani to be part of Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhandwhere as Nepal claims it to be a part of its Dharchula district. Recently Nepal moved towards staking its claim over Kalapani area.
Laws and treaties governing the territorial borders
When we look into the agreements on LAC between India and China we have:
In September 1993 – The agreement was regarding the maintenance of peace and tranquility along LAC and to see to that no activities of China and India will overstep the LAC.
In November 1996 – The agreement was to chalk out measures to build confidence in military field along the LAC and limiting both sides military forces within the agreed geographical region.
The flaws in the above two agreements were , there were no mention of actual line location and the line that separates deployment of India and Chinese troops.
In April 2005, the agreement was with respect to Political Parameters and guiding principles. The flaw in this was the incompletion of the fourth stage which involved demarcation of boundary on map and ground.
Treaty of Sugauli was signed 1816 between British East India company and Nepal to end the territorial war. This demarcated Uttarakhand’s Kumaon with river Kali as a boundary between the two countries. But the river shifts its course from time to time which arises disputes in the territory.
Article 253 of the Constitution of India confers power upon parliament to legislate on subjects in list 1 and 2 of the seventh schedule of the constitution for implementing “any treaty, agreement or convention with any other country or countries for any decision made at any international conference, association or other body”.
Impact of such disputes
Such disputes can have dangerous impact on both the countries. As we have seen recently, there were invasions and clashes between both the countries army taking no. of soldiers life. Apart from this, there can also be invasion of terrorists and can give rise to terrorism activities, because of lack of efficient demarcation of borders between the countries. Both the countries faces a loss of Human resource, aggregating tensions slowing down the growth of the country. People may also give up confidence on the treaties, laws governing such issues, government, legislation and the policies of the country, which may result in falling-out of harmony within the territory. Economies of the countries drop down. Illegal activities such as human trafficking, smuggling takes prominent place in such disputed areas due to lack of jurisdiction in those regions. People living in such disputed areas are frequently affected, as they may be asked to uproot and relocate their houses and livelihood as a result of disputes arising out. This has a large impact on the mental health of those people.
In order to avoid all the repercussions of this Territorial falling-out, there has to be enactment of firm laws which clearly demarcates the countries along its borders. Even the cartographical errors has to be avoided and corrected on a regular basis. Countries can keep a check on this cartography of the region as the rivers change their course from time to time, this can prevent such disputes. Also the legislative must take initiative to bring up laws which makes the treaties enacted completely valid and make a compulsion to follow the same. This would efficiently and gradually decrease the territorial disputes.
Author: Harshini P,
IFIM LAW SCHOOL(BBA LLB, 1st year)