NEW DELHI: The operational situation in the larger Chushul-Pangong Tso area of eastern Ladakh is on a knife’s edge, with Chinese troops once again indulging in provocative actions on Monday after Indian soldiers had earlier occupied the heights there to thwart a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) land-grabbing bid over the weekend.
The aggressive designs of the PLA to unilaterally alter the status quo of the LAC were, however, foiled this time too by “defensive actions” undertaken by the Indian soldiers, said officials.
The fresh PLA attempt took place when the rival brigade commanders were holding a flag meeting at the Chushul-Moldo border personnel meeting point on Monday morning in a bid to de-escalate tensions in the area where rival troops, tanks and other heavy weapon systems are ranged against each other.

The Chinese army brass is furious at the way PLA has been checkmated by the Indian Army’s pro-active military manoeuvre to occupy multiple heights near the southern bank of Pangong Tso, Rezang La, Reqin La and Spanggur Gap on August 29-30.

“Our troops will not budge from the heights because they are within our perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). They have not crossed the LAC at any place. The heights were occupied to prevent the PLA bid to present us with a fait accompli there, like it did in the ‘finger area’ on the north bank of Pangong Tso,” a senior officer said.
“On Monday, PLA troops tried to climb up the heights and come closer to our positions at a few locations on the southern bank of Pangong Tso and Spanggur Gap. They apparently wanted to dislodge our soldiers but were suitably cautioned and outmanoeuvred. The warning was conveyed at the flag meeting also,” he added.

The PLA is also testing Indian deployments at a few places along the 1,597-km frontier in eastern Ladakh, stretching north to south from Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO)-Depsang, Galwan, Hot Springs, Pangong Tso, Chushul, Demchok and Chumar sectors. On Tuesday, for instance, several PLA vehicles came close to the LAC in the Chumar sector but there was no attempt to intrude, said an officer.

The “evolving situation” and “possible contingencies” in the days ahead were reviewed by the high-powered China Study Group (CSG) in a two-hour meeting here on Tuesday afternoon. It was attended by defence minister Rajnath Singh, foreign minister S Jaishankar, national security advisor Ajit Doval, chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat and Army chief General M M Naravane, among others.
Far away in the high-altitude region, a flag meeting was also held at the Chushul-Moldo BPM for the second day running on Tuesday. “But there was no breakthrough,” another officer said.

The PLA’s recent attempt to open a new front in the Chushul area, amid the continuing military confrontation on the northern bank of Pangong Tso, Gogra and DBO-Depsang areas after its deep intrusions in early May, has led to a distinct hardening in India’s stance.
This was reflected in the Army’s swift takeover of previously unoccupied heights in the Chushul area after it detected an impending threat by the PLA through ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) operations.
This is, in fact, the first time that India has acted in such a “tit for tat” manner since the military confrontation began four months ago. If the PLA had occupied the heights, it would have got the tactical advantage of overlooking important Indian positions in nearby Thakung and other areas. “Instead, we are now overlooking their positions. We have a tactical advantage there,” the officer said.
The Army has already strengthened its position by deploying two tank regiments as well as infantry combat vehicles in the flatter terrain in the Chushul sector. Over 30,000 troops, 155mm howitzers, surface-to-air missiles and other weapon systems are of course also deployed in eastern Ladakh, as was reported by TOI earlier.
Watch India-China faceoff: Eastern Ladakh on knife-edge, Army foils fresh action by PLA