Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong’s claim on Thursday about the location of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at Pangong Tso and his refusal to clarify the LAC point to a scenario where the Indian Army will have to increase its permanent deployment on the disputed and tense border.
A senior Army officer said on Friday: “Our preparations and activities will be based on the actions of the adversary. As long as they retain capability, we have to be prepared for it because intent can change. We will maintain troops on the LAC according to that assessment.”
This means that the Army will have enhanced deployment on the disputed Ladakh border till total disengagement by troops at the points of friction and completion of total de-escalation by the two forces.
While the Indian Army has matched the Chinese PLA in terms of troop strength and support elements in the Ladakh sector, its commanders totally dismiss reports of induction of over 35,000 troops recently. However, the military commanders are clear that they will have to man positions along the LAC in specific areas to prevent any PLA aggression next year. “After the PLA aggression, we don’t trust the Chinese and fear that they will come back again north of Pangong Tso as summer arrives in 2021,” said a military commander.
Although the PLA has disengaged from patrolling points 14 (Galwan), 15-16 (Hot Springs), a smattering of adversary troops are still on forward location at patrolling point 17 A (Gogra) and withdrawal from all contested finger features is a distance away at the Pangong Tso.
With the cold and arid claimate of Ladakh, not much snow is expected in the general area of patrolling points 15, 16 or 17, but the over 17,000 feet Chang La (pass) gets filled with snow and lies en route to defences at Pangong Tso. “In order to cater for winter clothing requirements, we have not only placed orders with domestic manufacturers but also asked troops other than those stationed on Saltoro ridge and Siachen glacier to give up extreme snow clothing.
For instance, even troops at Partapur and Thoise are allowed Siachen clothing but the height of the two bases is same as Leh. So in the worst case scenario we will ask Partapur and Thoise troops to give up their down jackets, trousers, gloves, boots and goggles to their fellow jawans being posted up on the occupied Aksai Chin front,” said a second Army commander.
The PLA aggression in the Ladakh sector has created so much of mistrust between the two armies that both will keep troops on select locations all along the 3488 km LAC. “The Chinese aggression came despite all talks of peace and tranquility.
It is very important on part of both sides to settle the border issue soon as the number of friction points are increasing on the LAC and even a small spark can cause a flare-up, as unlike in the past, the Indian Army is regularly mounting patrols to earmark Indian territory and defend it to the last inch,” said a former Army chief.