For three main reasons, each and every step by Indian army will be taken only after verifying the situation on ground and preparedness to deal with a new reality at Indo-Chinese border.
India-China LAC standoff: The disengagement process started on Monday is considered as an important step. But, it is expected to have no such impact in the alertness of Indian army or its preparedness for a long-haul deployment in the Ladakh’s barren mountainous terrain. For three main reasons, each and every step by Indian army will be taken only after verifying the situation on ground and preparedness to deal with a new reality at Indo-Chinese border where blood has been spilled in June after more than five decades, The Indian Express reported.
The primary reason for remaining alert and cautious is due to high levels of mistrust among the two armies on the back of multiple events that have taken place in the last two months. It is to note that in the aftermath of the first round of talks at the level of the Corps Commander, Indian and Chinese army started to disengage. However, there was a violent clash on June 15 due to a dispute pertaining to the location of a Chinese post. This led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers wherein the number of Chinese soldiers who died remains unspecified. According to the report, the clash has left Indians with scars “which are too fresh to heal.”
Considering events like these, the Indian Army is indulging in a disengagement process with utmost caution and is mapping every move before taking the next step. The report highlighted that this implies the disengagement process to be more time-consuming, deliberate and onerous. Citing a senior army officer, the report said that the first step in all ‘friction points’ is expected to take a minimum of two-three weeks and another round of discussion between the commanders to reach the second step. Therefore, an extended deployment period can be expected from this which could last for weeks if not months, considering there isn’t any other encounter.
The steps taken by the Chinese army in the initial stages can be reversed easily and thus, this has become a concern. The report said that due to this, Indian army, at any given time, cannot lower their guard or think of reduction in strength as long as they are deployed. Furthermore, the IE report said that de-escalation from rear areas will be complex and the number of soldiers, heavy equipment will get de-inducted in a phased manner and match the numbers on the other side of LAC.
Another reason mentioned by the report for the need of extreme caution among Indian army is the current situation in the Pangong Tso area. Despite all meetings and discussions, the Chinese side is not backing down from its stance on the northern bank of the lake where it has constructed massive infrastructure. Based on these events (continuing from September 2019), apprehensions regarding the security and Chinese intent to force India to agree to the new status quo at the lake is growing. In simpler words, this means that Indian army is denied the right that allows it to patrol up to Finger 8, which they have been doing.
This scenario will be unacceptable to India and could lead to an eruption anytime across the LAC just like it was witnessed in May this year. On the night of May 5-6, Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed violently which resulted in some major injuries on both sides and a dispute which did not remain only in the Pangong area. Thus, in order to cater to any such eventuality, Indian army will have to ensure its strength as well as its alertness levels.
Lastly, the report said, the creation of de facto ‘buffer zones,’ a part of the disengagement process (believed as temporary), will end up denying access to certain portions of the LAC to the Indian soldiers. The report said that PPs (points given by the high-powered China Study Group) have to be patrolled by security forces in a specific period. In order to ensure the territorial integrity, the army would need full access to these PPs as soon as possible. As and when the Indian army patrols these regions, a situation that warrants military involvement could emerge if China decides to respond with violence or hostility.
All the reasons as explained by the report emphasized why the current situation on the LAC in Ladakh will result in a long-haul deployment before the status quo ante of April is achieved. This calls for complete preparedness within Indian army to deal with the new realities at the disputed border. The report underlined that this new reality which requires a high level of alertness, a fresh orientation and different preparations by the Indian army will not be changed after yesterday’s discussion to step back for some distance in Galwan valley.