Updated: August 28, 2020 8:27:41 am
With the rigid and inflexible Chinese stance on further disengagement along the Line of Actual Control dimming hopes of a breakthrough in the next round of military talks between the two sides, the Army is preparing for all contingencies on the disputed border in Ladakh, including the possible threat of Chinese manoeuvres in October when weather conditions improve.
“Right now, the situation seems to be in a stasis, but that is essentially dictated by weather and terrain. The rivers and nalas are currently in full spate in eastern Ladakh, and with the tracks located in the valleys, they become unusable and inaccessible. That rules out any military action. But as the water subsides, and even though the weather then may be slightly colder, October is a campaigning season in the area for which the Army is fully prepared,” a senior officer told The Indian Express.
The 1962 border war between India and China was fought in the months of October and November. It spanned the areas in Ladakh which are currently the friction points between the two armies for the last 115 days.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, in an interview to Rediff.com, said: “This is surely the most serious situation after 1962. In fact, after 45 years, we have had military casualties on this border. The quantum of forces currently deployed by both sides at the LAC is also unprecedented.”
The officer said that besides the number of Chinese troops on the LAC, it is “the logistics support and infrastructure that is being built, which is a bigger indicator. Tracks, shelters, bunkers and communication networks have been put up by the PLA in the past few months”.
“Our deployment is very strong, and we are fully prepared. Being prepared means enough troops and armour, equipment and quantities of ammunition are in place now. The logistics is all tied up, including the supply chains,” the officer said.
After the Ministry of Defence gave powers last month to the services to sanction capital procurement programmes worth Rs 300 crore for urgent operational requirements, the Army has placed orders for specialist ammunition under the clause. Most of these orders have been placed with foreign suppliers who have to supply the full consignment by March 31, 2021.
Meanwhile, the talks at the level of the Corps Commander are expected to be held on the LAC “within next 4-5 days” but expectations of any breakthrough from the talks are rather low. There has been no progress in many rounds of diplomatic and military talks since mid-July, due to the rigid Chinese stance.
“The Chinese line in the last many talks has been about ‘mutual and equal’ disengagement which means that both sides step back by an equal distance. That has been rejected by us for many reasons: one, it is the Chinese who have ingressed and this reinforces the new status quo; two, this means we step back from our longstanding posts in the areas which is impractical; three, their terrain and better infrastructure means equal time of movement of troops instead of equal distance should be considered as a factor; and four, the Chinese want to maintain exceptions even in disengagement,” the officer said.
Despite agreeing to a disengagement plan in PP17A in Gogra, the officer said the Chinese troops continue to occupy a height which allows them to dominate the area on the Indian side of the LAC. Similarly, Chinese troops have refused to step back from the Finger-4 ridgeline on the north bank of Pangong Tso while stepping back from the bank.
In the strategic Depsang Plains, the tensions have led to the breakdown of the local arrangement which allowed Indian patrols to access patrolling points. Chinese troops have blocked Indian soldiers at a place 18 km inside the LAC, denying them access to five patrolling points in the area.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines