This time the Chinese sides has been hampering the patrolling by stopping the Indian troops 5 kms short of the accepted point.
In an effort to ease tension areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, later this week the Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps of the Indian Army is expected to meet his Chinese equivalent at Chushul-Moldo. The meeting is scheduled to take place on June 6, at Chushul-Moldo which is one of the two designated meeting points in Ladakh. In an interview to a news channel on Tuesday, the defence minister Rajnath Singh had said that that there is a large number of Chinese (troops) present in the disputed area (along the LAC).
Experts believe that this may be an attempt to force India to stop road construction activities near the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. India has constructed a crucial high altitude Darbuk-Shyok- Daulat Beg Oldie road to reach its highest and northernmost airstrip.
Agenda of the meeting
The two top commanders are going to talk about plans to move out the troops from two spots located around `Finger 4’ which lies in the north of Pangong Tso and Gogra.
The preparations for the talks have already been made during a meeting between the Major General of the Indian Army heading the 3 Division and his Chinese counterpart on Tuesday.
The tension between the two sides is along the LAC on which both countries have different perceptions.
Though the troops of either side do not hold any ground in the disputed areas along the LAC, they come for patrolling purposes and return. This is based on the existing framework of the LAC management between the two sides.
However, this time, heavy tanks and artillery being positioned by the Chinese along the areas have posed a serious problem and have resulted in face-off at least once.
The third location at the confluence of Shyok and Galwan rivers in the Galwan valley has also caused concern and this has been conveyed to the Chinese side.
As per the China Claim Line of 1956, the alignment of LAC is accepted by both sides. And the patrolling by the Indian troops were accepted up to to a point accepted by both sides in the Galwan valley. However, this time the Chinese sides has been hampering the patrolling by stopping the Indian troops 5 kms short of the accepted point.
With the aim of holding ground in Galwan Valley and also north of Pangong Tso, the Indian troops are forward located.
Says Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, JNU: “The escalating border tensions at Pangong Tso and Galwan valley in Ladakh has turned into the most serious standoff since Doklam in 2017. It has been nearly a month but there is no sign of de-escalation from either side. Rather there are military reinforcements from both sides. China is believed to have deployed around 3000 additional troops in the region. It claims to have brought its troops in response to a unilateral construction by India.”
“The statements coming from the Indian side are conciliatory. In his interview to a media channel, Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister, confirmed Chinese reinforcements but hinted towards ongoing military and diplomatic dialogues between the two countries. Meanwhile, the main opposition party, the Congress Party, has blamed the government for inaction and allowing “serious transgressions” by Chinese troops into Indian territory. A competitive nationalism can push the parties towards extremes,” Prof Rajan observes.
According to him, “One does not contend that India and China are about to go to war. But the tensions between the two countries can easily flare-up. The repeated standoffs between the two countries in the last few years have been over construction activities. In the case of Doklam, China was trying to construct a road near Bhutan, and India raised alarms. This time India was constructing a road and a bridge near LAC in Ladakh and China is trying to stall this by sending reinforcements.”
“China has already constructed high altitude roads and military infrastructure near LAC. India lags far behind and is trying to catch up with China. Therefore, we are likely to witness many more standoffs in future unless these countries agree on the code of construction near the LAC,” he concludes.