Tuesday, September 1, 2020

India further strengthens presence in Pangong lake area


Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday carried out a comprehensive review of the situation in eastern Ladakh in the wake of China's "provocative" military manoeuvres to change the status quo in the southern bank area of Pangong lake.

IMAGE: Indian Army truck movement on road, in Leh. Photograph: ANI Photo

It was decided at the nearly two-hour meeting that Indian Army will continue to maintain its aggressive posturing in all sensitive areas along the Line of Actual Control to effectively deal with any Chinese "misadventure", official sources said.

They said the Indian Army has further bolstered its presence around the Southern Bank area of Pangong lake by deploying additional troops and bringing in more weaponry including tanks and anti tank guided missiles.

"The Indian Army is now dominating all the strategic mountain heights around the Southern Bank of Pangong lake," said a source.

The meeting was attended by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Army Chief General M M Naravane, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria among others, they said.

Army Chief Gen Naravane briefed the meeting about the prevailing situation, operational preparedness of the Army and steps being taken to maintain the current strength of personnel and weaponry in the winter months, the sources said.

They said Chinese troops attempted to evict Indian troops from at least two hill tops on Monday but their attempt did not succeed.

On Monday, Indian Army said it foiled attempts by Chinese military to change the status quo in the Southern Bank area of Pangong lake on the intervening night of August 29 and 30.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava on Tuesday said Chinese military was again engaged in "provocative action" on Monday when ground commanders of the two sides were holding talks to ease the tension in the area following attempts by Chinese troops two days back.

A Brigade Commander-level meeting between the two sides took place on Tuesday too in Chushul on the Indian side of the LAC but it could not produce any tangible outcome, the sources said.

Following the Chinese attempts, the Indian Army significantly strengthened its presence on a number of "strategic heights" around the Pangong lake besides further bolstering its presence in the area.

A battalion of the Special Frontier Force was also deployed in the area.

The sources said the Indian Air Force has also been told to enhance its surveillance on increasing Chinese air activities along the LAC in eastern Ladakh.

There have been reports that China has deployed J-20 long-range fighter jets and several other key assets in strategically located Hotan airbase which is around 310 km from eastern Ladakh.

In the last three months, the IAF deployed almost all its frontline fighter jets like Sukhoi 30 MKI, Jaguar and Mirage 2000 aircraft in the key frontier air bases in eastern Ladakh and elsewhere along the LAC.

The fresh attempt by China to change the status quo in the Pangong lake area is the first major incident in the area after the Galwan Valley clashes on June 15 in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed. 

China also suffered casualties but is yet to make the details public. According to an American intelligence report it was 35.

India and China have held several rounds of military and diplomatic talks in the last two-and-half months but no significant headway has been made for a resolution to the border row in eastern Ladakh.


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