SOURCE: TIMES NOW
The standoff between the Indian and Chinese armies along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh appears to be worsening, with the troops of the two countries reported to be in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation at several locations along the de-facto border.
Top military sources have been quoted as saying in a report that the present situation may evolve to become the biggest standoff between the two countries since the 73-day-long Doklam dispute of 2017. After China is believed to have moved in some 5,000 troops at several locations along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh, India too has increased its strength, especially in Pangong Tso and Galwan Valley – the two areas from where standoff has been reported over the past few weeks.
At both Pangong Tso lake and Galwan valley, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has moved in troops and built temporary structures, including erecting tents and building bunkers, besides also deploying heavy equipment.
“The strength of the Indian Army in the area is much better than our adversary,” a PTI report quoted a top military official as saying on the condition of anonymity.
‘Not a routine standoff’
In conversation with the news agency, former Northern Army Commander Lt Gen (retired) DS Hooda described the situation as a serious one and “not a normal kind of transgression”.
Army sources said China had deployed troops around several key locations including Indian Post KM120 along the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley. This is a matter of particular concern as in the past, there was no dispute between the two countries as far as territorial jurisdiction of Galwan Valley was concerned.
Strategic Affairs expert Ambassador Ashok K Kantha also described the present situation as disturbing, saying it was not a routine standoff.
Why experts may be saying this is because the armies of India and China, at present, are in eyeball-to-eyeball- serious confrontation in several areas including Pangong Tso, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie.
To keep the Chinese aggression under check, Indian troops are undertaking “aggressive patrolling” at sensitive points, including Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie.
According to sources, the situation has escalated this time and diplomatic efforts at the top level may be required to defuse the tensions along the LAC.
How the situation along LAC escalated
The confrontation had started on the evening of May 5 when around 250 soldiers from India and China engaged in a violent face-off in Eastern Ladakh. The situation de-escalated the next day only after local commanders of the two armies spoke. Around 100 soldiers from both sides were injured in the clash during which the two sides exchanged blows and indulged in stone-pelting.
Four days later, a similar confrontation took place near Naku La Pass in North Sikkim. At least 10 soldiers from both sides were injured in the clash.
Last week, India had accused China of creating hindrance in normal patrolling by its Army. The Ministry of External Affairs also rejected China’s claim that Indian forces had trespassed onto the Chinese side.
Beijing had claimed that Indian Army soldiers had entered the Chinese territory in an “attempt to unilaterally change the status” of the LAC in Sikkim and Ladakh.
It may be recalled that in 2017, Indian and Chinese troops were involved in a 73-day stand-off at Doklam tri-junction. That standoff had even triggered fears of a conventional war between the two nuclear-armed countries.
India and China share the 3,488-km-long LAC, the de-facto border between the two countries. Further, China claims Arunachal Pradesh as its territory – as part of southern Tibet – while India disputes it.
Meanwhile, in the midst of the evolving situation in Eastern Ladakh, Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane will meet his top commanders for two days starting tomorrow. The Army top leadership is expected to discuss security issues along with other matters, Army sources said.