The Indian Navy has also been asked to raise its alert level in the Indian Ocean Region where Chinese Navy has been making regular forays.
Frontline bases of the Indian army and the air force along the nearly 3,500 km de-facto border with China were put on high alert on Wednesday in view of the worst border clash between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan Valley that left 20 Army personnel dead and several injured, government sources said.
The Indian Navy has also been asked to raise its alert-level in the Indian Ocean Region where Chinese Navy has been making regular forays. The Army has already rushed in additional troops and weaponry to all its key frontline bases and formations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhan, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh, they said.
“The rules of engagement will be different from now onwards. The prime minister has spelt out the broad policy about it,” a top military official told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
Sending a strong message to China, Modi said India wants peace but is capable of giving befitting reply if instigated. It was his first reaction to the violent clashes in Galwan Valley.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met Prime Minister Modi in the evening and is learnt to have briefed him about steps being taken to boost military strength along the LAC to deal with any eventuality.
The Indian Air Force has raised the alert level in all its frontline bases tasked to keep an eye on the LAC, the de-facto border, the sources said.
The decision to raise the alert level of the three forces was taken at a high-level meeting Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held with Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and the three service chiefs, sources said. They said the Navy is increasing its deployment in the Indian Ocean Region to send across a strong message to the Chinese Navy.
The clash in Galwan Valley on Monday night is the biggest confrontation between the two militaries after their 1967 clashes in Nathu La in 1967 when India lost around 80 soldiers while over 300 Chinese army personnel were killed.
The sources said the armed forces will respond with a “firm approach” to any act of aggression by the Chinese Army henceforth. They said Indian Navy is also expected to adopt an aggressive approach in dealing with Chinese naval forays into the Indian Ocean region.
“The Indian Navy has an ace up its sleeves in the Indian Ocean Region should there be a need. It can exercise lot of control. Pressure points can be created which will hurt where it hurts the most,” strategic affairs expert Capt (retd) D K Sharma said.
In the meantime, the two armies held another round of Major General-level talks during which ways to implement an agreement on disengagement between the two sides in several standoff points were discussed.
The two armies were engaged in a standoff in Galwan and several other areas of the eastern Ladakh since May 5 when the two sides clashed on the bank of the Pangong Tso.
After the standoff began, the Indian military leadership decided that Indian troops will adopt a firm approach in dealing with the aggressive posturing by the Chinese troops in all disputed areas of Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie.
The Chinese Army has been gradually ramping up its strategic reserves in its rear bases near the LAC by rushing in artillery guns, infantry combat vehicles and heavy military equipment. The trigger for the face-off was China’s stiff opposition to India laying a key road in the Finger area around the Pangong Tso Lake besides construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley.
The road in the Finger area in Pangong Tso is considered crucial for India to carry out patrols. India has already decided not to stall any border infrastructure projects in eastern Ladakh in view of Chinese protests.
The situation in the area deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on May 5 and 6. The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in north Sikkim on May 9.
The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LAC. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet, while India contests it.
Prior to the clashes, both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas.