In response to a question, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai stated in Parliament that “No infiltration” has been reported along the India-China border during the “last six months”. The response puzzled many who compared the statement made by Rai with the one shared by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday, in which he had talked about the repeated attempts made by Chinese army to occupy territory held by the Indian troops. If there was zero infiltration on the LAC then wasn’t Rajnath Singh’s statement contradictory to the one made by MoS Home?
The answer may lie in the convention used by the ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Defence in how attempts to cross over into Indian territory is defined. The response of the MoS is quite in line with the terminology India has officially used to distinguish between ingress into the Indian territory by soldiers from neighbouring countries from those by terrorists.
Briefing journalists in Jammu’s Nagrota-base corps headquarter area, the then General Officer Commanding-In-Chief (GOC-In-C), Northern Command, Lt Gen B S Jaswal had made a similar statement, “There is no intrusion or incursion whatsoever. There has been transgression. It continues,” in context of Pak army’s attempted movement into the Indian side.
In 2014, the then MoS Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju had made a similar statement in the Parliament in which he had said that since 2010 there has zero incursions across the LAC, however, he said 1612 transgressions had taken place across the LAC between January 2010 and August 2014.
Two years later, in July 2016, the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said in Lok Sabha in response to questions over the ingress of PLA into Uttarakhand border, “India-China border is not formally demarcated. There are areas where both sides have differing perceptions of LAC. Barhoti (Uttarakhand) is one such area. There was no incursion, just transgression which has been settled. There is a well defined mechanism to settle such transgressions.”
So, what is the difference between an incursion/infiltration and a transgression and how are these terms used.
“Infiltration refers to people in small groups moving through a held line of defence. The term suggests that the people infiltrating move covertly across well defined border lines,” Lt. Gen. Anil Chait (retired), former Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff, told News18. He said that infiltration refers to the method of movement and is understood to be unorganised.
“Transgression on the other hand is not a military term. But we understand it to be more of an organised activity. A movement which is much larger in scope across a held line. The line here refers to a jurisdiction, hence the movement is considered to be against the established jurisdiction,” he added. He said that when the term transgression is used, it is understood that the body of people transgressing ‘has the mandate of authorities. It is a willful act against another authority,” Lt. Gen. Anil Chait (retired) further added.