May 16, 2018
The Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh
The morning prayers had just ended. Tezi Toko, a young monk at the monastery, lifted his head from prayer. Today’s prayers had been special, for a new batch of monks had just joined them. Life was quiet in Tawang, with people minding their own lives, including the monks and priests at the Monastery.
But Tezi had heard some disturbing rumours from the village: strange men in Army uniform had been seen across the mountains. Tawang, being a disputed site between India and China, was not new to Army men, but these seemed different. Some people had suggested that the Chinese were invading, but most people had brushed that theory aside. The Indian Army would never allow that to happen, they said. They had reposed faith in the tricolour that flew majestically in the village square.
Just then, there was a sudden scream from an adjoining corridor. Tezi rushed there to see another fellow monk looking out of the window in horror. Smoke was rising from the village outside and people were running helter-skelter in fear. Women and children could be seen screaming as families tried to stay together. The fire was spreading quickly, but its source was not immediately apparent.
Tezi strained his eyes to see where the fire was coming from, until he finally saw them. A band of uniformed men tossing grenades at whatever, or whoever, they could lay their eyes upon. Within moments, the village roads turned crimson. But when Tezi looked upwards, towards the horizon, his skin tingled in horror. There, a sea of soldiers could be seen marching towards the village. It felt as though the end of the world had arrived for Tawang.
Tezi returned to his chambers and knelt down to pray. He tried to concentrate on his prayer, but his mind kept wandering. He wondered how long it would take for the invaders to reach the Monastery. He knew it wouldn’t take them long once they reached the village square. But they would stop, at least briefly, at the Square. They had to take care of the tricolour, after all.
December 21, 2012
Onboard the Prime Minister’s Special Aircraft from New Delhi to Beijing
Although he seemed calm answering the media’s questions, the Prime Minister had a lot on his mind. This trip to Beijing was to be significant, as the two countries were all set to sign a Comprehensive Convention of Economic Cooperation and a number of security-related pacts.
But that was what the world was looking at. Over the past few years, India had been silently negotiating with Bangladesh to allow it to use its roads to transport goods and people – including soldiers – from and to the North East. It was exhausting, but necessary. Simultaneously, India had begun scaling up its border security along the Siliguri Corridor, which remains the weakest security point of the nation.
The Prime Minister knew that it would be foolish for the Chinese to ever invade India. But he also knew that if it were ever confronted with downfall, the Communist Party could act very foolishly. And, as they say, a strong body with a weak mind is a very dangerous combination.