As field-level talks to lower tensions along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh remain inconclusive, the Indian Army has increased its presence in Uttarakhand following reports of a Chinese troop build-up in an area on their side of the LAC.
And in eastern Ladakh, which is part of the western sector, the Army has inducted additional troops and has enhanced round-the-clock surveillance of the LAC through UAVs.
Sources told The Indian Express that the Army has also increased its presence along the boundary with China in Uttarakhand — part of the middle sector — following reports that Chinese troops have been deployed in increased numbers in the Guldong sector.
The Chinese build-up, sources said, was reported to have taken place over the last few days, following which the Army reinforced a brigade located in the area with additional units.
“Deployment ahead of Harsil has been strengthened due to reports of Chinese beefing up their numbers in the opposite sector,” a senior officer said.
In eastern Ladakh, sources said, the Army has started inducting more crews to operate UAVs for enhanced surveillance of the area. Extensive physical patrolling of the area is very difficult since “the rough terrain takes too much time, too many troops,” sources said, but UAVs can provide regular updates on any Chinese movement along the LAC in Ladakh.
Fresh induction of troops, sources said, has taken place in Ladakh to strengthen Indian positions and create reserves.
Some of the specialist troops, sources said, have been moved from outside the theatre while other troops have been made available from “loop” battalions. Loop battalions refer to infantry units kept in an area pending their final induction or de-induction from posts in high altitude areas such as Siachen.
An official said reinforcements have already been provided to certain posts in Ladakh which are considered “critical” in case of sudden Chinese moves in the area. This, the official said, is based “on terrain, current Chinese deployment and our strategic vulnerabilities” — a pointer to the area around the Galwan valley where the Chinese have massed troops on their side of the LAC.
India’s key “strategic asset” in the area is the 255-km Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road which was completed last year. It provides access to Daulat Beg Oldie where the IAF re-activated an Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in 2008. The construction of this strategic road began in 2001, and an earlier alignment called the China Study Group (CSG) track had to be abandoned because parts of the road were getting washed away.
The realigned road was inaugurated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh last October who threw open a 1400-feet bridge on the Shyok river, officially called Colonel Chewang Rinchen Setu. The bridge is sandwiched between the Karakoram and Chang Chenmo ranges, and lies to the north of the confluence of Galwan and Shyok rivers. Galwan valley is closest to the road from the LAC.
Meanwhile, another meeting was held on Sunday at the field level between sector commanders of both the Indian and Chinese armies, but the talks remained inconclusive, sources said. It was their sixth meeting after Chinese soldiers moved into Indian territory at multiple locations.
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