Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at Leh in Ladakh on 3 July on a short visit against the backdrop of tensions between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) in Ladakh. The visit comes two weeks after Chinese PLA ambushed and killed 20 soldiers in a violent clash at Galwan Valley, one of the points of friction along the border, while losing more men on its side. Modi arrived in Leh, headquarters of the army’s 14 Corps, along with the chief of defence staff Bipin Rawat.
Prime Minister Modi is expected to meet the soldiers injured in the 15 June violent clash at Galwan Valley, in which 20 army personnel were killed.
While Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is expected to visit the western sector later, XIV Corps Commander Lt General Harinder Singh will brief Gen Rawat and take note of requirements on the ground. As the first CDS of India, Gen Rawat has a strong bond with the troops as he is blunt and to the point.
Although the Ministry of External Affairs spokesman on 2 July called for expeditious disengagement from the border, the de-escalation process will take time. The PLA does not appears to be in the mood to walk the talk between the two governments on ground. Despite the talks of peace and dis-engagement, the PLA troop withdrawal from Galwan, Gogra, Hot Springs and Pangong Tso will take a lot of time and serious persuasion.
Military commanders said the PLA continues to line up in its territory at all the stand-off points by physical deployment. At the same time, it is undertaking superficial thinning in the rear by Gen Rawat a few vehicles and few men. The PLA stands amassed at Galwan River Valley and consolidated at Pangong Tso with massive infrastructure upgrade.
Faced with a recalcitrant adversary, the army and IAF are fully deployed to prevent any further aggression from the PLA. The morale of the forces appears to be very high particularly after the 15 June flare-up at Galwan. “ We have no intentions of initiating any skirmish but any aggression from the other side will be fully repelled,” said a senior military commander.
With temperatures in East Ladakh and Tibet well over 20 degree Celsius and high velocity winds sweeping the region, air operations in the area are a challenge with weight limits being imposed during take-offs particularly in Russian origin platforms. While IAF will use the air bases in the plains in the worst case scenario, the PLA Air Force will have serious difficulty in operating from Tibetan Plateau. The coming days will be a test of unproven Chinese air platforms, missiles and land systems as their battle worthiness has never been challenged.