NEW DELHI: The Army is fully geared to handle the “delicate and serious” situation along the border with China, having undertaken precautionary deployments to safeguard the country’s territory integrity, Gen M M Naravane said on Friday.
“Our troops are well-prepared for all contingencies that may arise. A high state of operational readiness is being maintained,” the Army chief said after a two-day visit to forward areas in eastern Ladakh for a first-hand assessment of the ground situation and logistics for the coming winter along the Line of Actual Control.
Gen Naravane said the morale and resolve of Indian commanders and soldiers on the ground were high, and they were prepared for any challenge, while arrangements for their sustenance in the winter were also fully under way.
The military confrontation in the high-altitude region since early May has further escalated after around 3,000 Indian troops, heavily armed with rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles and other weapons, proactively occupied multiple tactical heights in the Chushul sector and then consolidated their positions on August 29-30.
Outmanoeuvred in the race to grab the heights, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has pumped in additional forces and tanks opposite the Chushul sector. It is vociferously demanding that Indian soldiers vacate the heights that overlook the PLA’s crucial Moldo garrison, the ingress route for tanks through the Spanggur Gap, and roads in the region.
Overall, both India and China have deployed well over 35,000 troops each, apart from tanks, howitzers, surface-to-air missiles and other weapon systems, along the frontier in eastern Ladakh, right from Daulat Beg Oldie-Depsang in the north to Demchok and Chumar in the south.
The latest flashpoint is towards the southern bank of Pangong Tso in the Chushul sector.
Gen Naravane said India was “firmly committed” to resolving the current situation through talks with China. “Over the past three months, both sides are engaged in resolving the tense situation. Military and diplomatic channels are functioning. We will continue to utilise all existing mechanisms to reduce tension and to ensure that the status quo is not unilaterally changed, and we are able to safeguard our interests,” he said.
Brigadier-level talks between the two armies at the Chushul-Moldo border personnel meeting point, meanwhile, continued for the fifth day on Friday. “Nothing much is coming out of the talks. But as long as you are talking, you are not fighting. One of the reasons for the June 15 Galwan Valley skirmish (in which 20 Indian and an undisclosed number of Chinese soldiers died) was the communication gap,” a senior officer said.
The Indian Army, after being presented with a fait accompli on the north bank of Pangong Tso with the PLA occupying the 8km stretch from Finger-4 to 8, has effectively blocked the PLA’s bid to do the same in the Chushul sector with its pre-emptive military manoeuvre on August 29-30. “It was for the first time we proactively changed the status quo. If the PLA is not adhering to the mutual agreements and protocols, why should we,” the officer added.


Source link