Army chief General Bikram Singh faced some embarrassing questions from officers of the People's Liberation Army during his recent visit to Beijing to deliver a guest lecture at China's prestigious National Defence University.
General Singh, who visited China from July2 to 5, was the first Indian army chief to address PLA's premier defence university.
Following General Singh's lecture to the cadets at the University, a woman Colonel from the audience asked him to explain the Indian Army's stand on Arunachal Pradesh. The next question was on Tibet and the activities of Tibetan refugees in India.
Though General Bikram Singh dodged both questions well enough, he was taken aback by the set of 'unexpected and embarrassing questions'. On Arunachal Pradesh, the army chief said that "Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India.' While on the activities of Tibetans living in India, he simply reiterated Indian government's stand that "India does not allow any foreign political activities from its soil".
The development has raised the hackles of the defence establishment which is seeing it as a deliberate attempt by China to discomfit the Indian army chief.
Visiting dignitaries do face tough questions on sensitive issues but most of them come from journalists in forums like press conferences and background briefings, and not serving government officials of a much junior rank.
"India and China have established diplomatic channels to tackle issues related to the boundary dispute. This was certainly not the forum for it," said an official who is privy to the developments in the matter.
General Singh, who was the first Indian Army chief to visit China in nine years, interacted with the PLA cadets discussing India-China relations and the ties between the two militaries.
According to officials, the army chief spoke on strategic military leadership challenges in the 21 st century, without making any direct reference to Sino-India ties. He later answered questions on the bilateral ties and relations between the two militaries.