Monday, January 2, 2012



The alleged ill-treatment of S.Balachandran, an Indian diplomat posted in the Consulate in Shanghai, and two Indian employees of an Yemeni firm by local Chinese authorities in the city of Yiwu , about 300 kms from Shanghai, has led to a strong protest by the Government of India to the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi on January 2,2012.

2.The incident started with the illegal detention and ill-treatment of the two Indian employees of the Yemeni firm by local Chinese traders and authorities who allegedly held them accountable for the failure of the Yemeni firm to pay its dues to local Chinese traders. It has been further alleged that the China-based Yemeni head of the company disappeared making the Indian employees face the wrath of the Chinese traders and authorities.

3.When Balachandran went to the city to provide consular assistance to the two Indians and get them released, he himself became the victim of ill-treatment by the authorities and the court which was dealing with the case against the Indians. It has been reported that Balachandran, who is a severe diabetic, was denied access to food for nearly six hours during which period he had to remain in court. He reportedly collapsed as a result.

4.There is so far no reason to believe that any official of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs was involved in the incident. The ill-treatment allegedly meted out to Balachandran and the two Indian employees of the Yemeni firm was apparently by the local authorities who seem to have been acting at the behest of the Chinese to whom the Yemeni company owed money.

5. The incident illustrates the dangers of foreigners doing business in some small towns of China where the local authorities often collude with the local Chinese businessmen in harassing foreign businessmen and traders.

6. At the same time, this incident has come in the wake of the detention of a number of Indian diamond merchants by the Chinese authorities for months following allegations of illegal trading practices by them. Collusion of local Chinese authorities with Chinese businessmen and traders having unresolved disputes with foreigners is often seen and the Chinese authorities in their Ministry of Foreign Affairs have generally not been known for their vigorous intervention in such matters. They tend to treat casually complaints of misbehaviour and ill-treatment against their local authorities and businessmen.

7. The Government of India should insist on strong action against those responsible in the instant case while discouraging our media from blowing the incident out of proportion. At a time when there is still considerable prejudice against the Chinese in sections of the Indian civil society, such incidents would create a bad taste in our mouth and tend to strengthen the anti-Chinese prejudices. (3-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )



The police of Jammu and Kashmir need to be complimented for promptly arresting five members of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), who had allegedly opened fire on a crowd of an estimated 500 protesters who were protesting over power shortages in the Boniyar area of the Baramulla District in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). The firing allegedly resulted in the death of a 25-year-old person and injuries to two others. The incident has reportedly led to resentment and protests against the CISF by the local residents.

2. The CISF personnel who opened fire reportedly belonged to a unit posted in that area for providing physical security to the Uri power project. It is not yet clear whether the demonstrators were protesting in the residential township or in the vicinity of the plant.

3.The CISF is a physical security force specially raised and trained for guarding vital installations such as thermal, hydel and nuclear power stations, oil and gas infrastructure, airports etc. It is not a law and order or counter-insurgency force. Its personnel do receive basic training in crowd control, but they are not equipped for crowd control. Since their primary purpose is to prevent infiltrations and attacks on vital installations, they are issued with live ammunition.

4.The Uri incident has arisen probably because the CISF personnel were used for crowd control for which they are not specially equipped.Normally, the local police or other para-military forces such as the Central Reserve Police Force should have been used for maintaining law and order and for preventing acts of violence when the crowd was demonstrating. It is not clear how the CISF personnel got involved in crowd control duties for which they should have sought the help of the local police.

5.Two things need to be enquired into: Why the assistance of the local police or the CRPF was not sought? What were the circumstances under which the CISF personnel opened fire? If the protesters were marching to the gates of the power project, there might have been some justification for the action taken by the CISF personnel. Not otherwise.

6.CISF personnel deployed on duties for guarding vital installations in insurgency-affected areas need to be specially trained on dealing with situations such as the one that was witnessed in the Uri area and on the need for co-ordination with the local police, who should be entrusted with the responsibility for dealing with crowds which do not pose a direct threat to the plant.

7.To prevent a spiralling and creeping spread of the protests in anger over the death of a local resident, there is a need for a prompt enquiry into the incident and follow-up action against those found responsible for the mishandling of the demonstration. Any public perception that the Governments of India and J & K are attempting to cover up the incident might prove counter-productive and might be exploited for political purposes by local elements. The incident must be handled from the legal and humanitarian angles without any attempts at politicisation of this tragedy. ( 1-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )