“The LAC is simply not negotiable. Our troops will remain forward deployed in eastern Ladakh till the Chinese soldiers withdraw,” said an officer, after a consultative meeting among top officials from the Army, external affairs and defence ministries on Monday.
The inter-ministerial meeting, a smaller version of the high-powered China Study Group led by national security advisor Ajit Doval, to formulate India’s future strategy came ahead of diplomatic talks through the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) later this week.
Five rounds of top-level military talks between the rival corps commanders have failed to break the deadlock in the stalled troop disengagement in Pangong Tso and Gogra as well as de-escalation in the rival military build-ups in the strategically-located Depsang Plains-Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) sector, as was reported by TOI earlier.
With China adopting a rigid stand in its design to forcibly push the LAC westwards, the military confrontation is into its fourth month now. India, too, has militarily adopted a hardline position, with a massive advance winter stocking exercise for its over 30,000 soldiers deployed just in Ladakh.
“It will require top-level political-diplomatic intervention since the military talks have failed to make any headway, with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) making unreasonable demands. The Indian Army has strongly conveyed to the PLA that it must restore status quo as it existed in April by withdrawing,” said another official.
But the PLA has so far refused to withdraw eastwards from the 8-km stretch it has occupied from `Finger-4’ to `Finger-8’ (mountainous spurs jutting into the lake) after building scores of new fortifications and gun positions on the north bank of Pangong Tso since early-May.
The PLA has similarly remained intransigent about its deep intrusion into what India considers its territory in the Depsang-Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) sector, where it has blocked Indian soldiers from going to their traditional Patrolling Points-10, 11, 12 and 13 for over three months now.
India, of course, has also deployed additional brigades (each has around 3,000 troops) and T-90S main battle tank regiments in the Depsang plateau, which located at an altitude of 16,000-feet provides access to the DBO advance landing ground and the critical Karakoram Pass in the north.