As winter sets in across India, an open source intelligence Twitter handle @detresfa_ posted a satellite image from the European Space Agency showing Galwan Valley in Ladakh’s face-off site in its “winter transformation”.
The image shows Galwan valley and the exact faceoff site picked by satellite marked in a blue square. Indian and Chinese had clashed at Galwan Valley on June 15-16 leading to the death of 20 Indian soldiers, although the PLA had lost troops as well however the Chinese foreign ministry has refused the divulge the exact number of Chinese casualties.
After a series of commander-level talks after the Galwan Valley clash military commanders from India and China agreed to “stop sending more troops” to the Line of Actual Control(LAC) along the Himalayan border.
The two sides agreed to stop sending more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground, and avoid taking any actions that may complicate the situation.
Despite the talks, another incident flared up in early September when shots were fired for the first time in 45 years on the border.
After the deadly June clash — which also resulted in an unknown number of Chinese casualties — the world’s two most-populous nations sent tens of thousands of extra troops to LAC.
India and China fought a war over the frontier in 1962. Amid rising tensions, the Indian Air Force tested the new French Rafale jets taking it on “familiarisation” flights above the LAC.
The first five planes of a $9.4 billion order for 36 Rafale aircraft were formally commissioned on September 10, with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh calling them a “strong message” to New Delhi’s adversaries.
The defence ministry had said during the commissioning that the fighter planes had “already flown and familiarised with our operational environment” without specifically mentioning Ladakh.
“(The Rafales) have undergone intense integrated training with other combat fleets including firing of advanced weapons,” that statement added.
In October, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened a Himalayan tunnel that will drastically reduce the time needed to rush troops to the country’s remote Chinese border as tensions grew between the Asian neighbours.
The tunnel traverses India’s northern Himachal Pradesh state and lies on one of two main routes for troops headed to border areas in Ladakh.
The $400-million, nine-kilometre (six miles) tunnel will cut the journey by about 50 kilometres (30 miles) and four hours, enabling travellers to bypass a tricky route across a landslide-prone Himalayan pass.
The tunnel, at an altitude of more than 3,000 metres (10,000 feet), has been hailed as a feat of engineering.
A decade in the making, freezing temperatures and the challenging terrain meant construction work could only be carried out for about six months each year.
The project is part of New Delhi’s push to catch up with Chinese infrastructure development on the other side of the LAC. In the last six years, Modi’s government has expedited several frontier projects including roads, bridges and high-altitude airstrips.
“We have put our entire energy in developing our border infrastructure. The country hasn’t seen roads, bridges and tunnels built at this scale,” PM Modi said.
India’s Border Roads Organisation, which implements most of these strategic projects, says it has built more in the last four years than in the previous decade.
The Indian Army has now begun preparing for the the long, hard winter as Chinese troops lurk at the LAC keen to exploit any Indian weakness.
Workers from Border Roads Organisation (BRO) use a machine to clear a snow covered road near Zojila mountain pass that connects Srinagar to the union territory of Ladakh, bordering China.