At a funeral last week in the mountains of northern India, one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s top aides paid respect to a Tibetan soldier killed on the front lines of deadly clashes with China.
Surrounded by troops waving the flags of both India and Tibet, Ram Madhav laid a wreath before the coffin during a ceremony that gave the deceased man full military honors. In a now-deleted tweet, the national general-secretary of Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party said he hoped the soldier’s death would lead to peace along the "Indo-Tibetan border.”
The rare recognition of a secretive Indian military unit with Tibetan soldiers by itself threatened to escalate a border dispute that has killed dozens since May and tanked economic ties between the world’s most-populous nations. Even more significant was the suggestion that India questioned China’s sovereignty over Tibet — a red line for Beijing, which sees separatism as a cause also worth fighting for in places from Xinjiang to Hong Kong to Taiwan.