In July 1954, Nehru adopted a directive that “all of our old maps dealing with this border must be carefully examined and, if necessary, withdrawn. New maps should be printed, showing our northern and northeastern borders, without reference to any “line.” The new maps should also be sent to our embassies abroad and made available to the public and used in our schools, universities, etc.” This map, as it is officially used until today, served as the basis for relations with China, which eventually led to the 1962 war. The main disagreements occur in the Western sector, where the LAC stemmed from two letters written by Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959, after first mentioning such a “line” in 1956. In his letter, Zhou said the LAC consisted of “the so-called McMahon line to the east and the line to which each party exercises real control to the west.” In his book Choices: Inside the Making of India`s Foreign Policy, Shivshankar Menon stated that the LAC was described by the Chinese “only on maps that should not be modulated”. In October 2013, the two sides signed the border defence cooperation agreement to prevent an outbreak along the unmarcated border. This includes both the dialogue mechanism at the military level and the diplomatic dialogue mechanism. India rejected the concept of LAC in both 1959 and 1962. Even during the war, Nehru was unequivocal: “There is no sense in the Chinese offer to withdraw twenty kilometers from what they call the “real line of control”. What is this “line of control”? Is this the line they have created by the attack since the beginning of September? Following the Tulung La incident, the China Study Group in Delhi set patrol limits that India would comply with to impose its alignment with the LAC – limits that are still being met today. The problem is that India and China do not agree everywhere on the alignment of the LAC. Differences in perception, particularly in the 13 western, middle and eastern parts of the border, often lead to “face-offs” when patrols meet in these shadowy areas between the different alignments.
Some of these areas are Chumar, Demchok and the north shore of Lake Pangong in the western sector, Barahoti in the central sector and Sumdorong Chu in the east. The two sides agreed on the 2005 and 2013 protocols that set out the rules of engagement to deal with such situations, but as the current impasse in Pangong Tso reminds us, they have not always been followed. At Pangong Tso, india`s LAC turns to finger 8 and China to finger 4. The “fingers” of 1 to 8 refer to the mountain tracks that run from west to east on the north shore of the lake. At present, Chinese troops have set up tents in the finger 4 area and are preventing India from reaching its LAC on finger 8, leading to a dead end.