China LAC: No let-up in border tension

There are no signs of any de-escalation in the almost month-long confrontation between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh, even as the Army brass took stock of the ‘ground situation’ with fresh inputs from the military operations and intelligence directorates on Thursday.

The Indian Army has enough “acclimatised” troops now deployed in the high-altitude areas in eastern Ladakh to take care of any contingency, while battalions in other sectors like Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control have also further cranked up their operational readiness, sources said.

The ongoing Army commanders’ conference, being chaired by General M M Naravane and attended by the senior lieutenant generals heading the six operational and one training commands, also discussed the “management of ammunition stocks and operational logistics” while reviewing the situation along the LAC on Thursday.

Sources said there was no doubt that the “well-coordinated” operation by the People’s Liberation Army for simultaneous intrusions at multiple points across the LAC into eastern Ladakh had the full backing of the top Chinese politico-military leadership. “Local commanders cannot take such far-reaching decisions,” a source said.

PLA commanders at the Chushul and Daulat Beg Oldie border personnel meeting points in eastern Ladakh, meanwhile, continue to be aggressive in their demand for India to stop its road and bridge construction activities, which were taking “well within our” territory. “But our commanders are standing firm and instead asking them to withdraw to restore the status quo,” the source said.

Consequently, Indian and Chinese soldiers remain entrenched for the long haul in their face-off positions at three places in larger Galwan Valley region and one each on the northern bank of Pangong Tso and Demchok, which are broadly around 1-3 km inside what India considers its territory.

There is a growing concern that the five bilateral agreements and protocols, ranging from the Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the LAC in 1993 to the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement in 2013, have largely failed to deliver the goods on the ground.

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