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NEW DELHI: India is keeping its “military options” open if the ongoing diplomatic and military talks with China do not lead to a breakthrough in the stalled troop disengagement and de-escalation in eastern Ladakh.
In a clear signal of intent to China, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said the Indian armed forces “remain prepared for military actions” if “peaceful efforts” through talks did not succeed in restoring the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as it existed in April. The statement appears aimed at conveying that a prolonged stand-off with Chinese troops camping in certain areas like Pangong and Depsang will not be acceptable.
“Military options to deal with transgressions by the Chinese army in Ladakh are there, but they will be exercised only if talks at the military and the diplomatic level fail,” Gen Rawat told a news agency on Monday.
The military confrontation in Ladakh is in its fourth month now, with China refusing to complete the proposed troop disengagement in Pangong Tso and Gogra as well as de-escalate the military build-up in the strategically-located Depsang Plains-Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) sector.
TOI had reported on June 19 that the Indian defence establishment had presented a range of options for ‘limited’ military action in the aftermath of the bloody clashes in Galwan Valley, which left 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese troops dead.
The options range from forcible eviction of Chinese soldiers from Indian territory to a calibrated and localised conflict in conjunction with political, diplomatic and economic measures. But the political leadership will have to take the final decision.
A ‘counter-incursion’ by Indian forces into Chinese territory in some other sector in order to gain some leverage in negotiations remains a more feasible option. “Our forces can also go across the LAC and sit on China’s territory somewhere else as a bargaining chip,” a senior official said.
The focus, however, is on dialogue as of now.

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